Group celebrate 200th anniversary of Hetton Colliery Railway with educational fun day and unveiling of new artwork

A community group is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Hetton Colliery Railway.

Friday, 10th June 2022, 11:45 am

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Volunteers from Friends of Hetton Lyons Park
Volunteers from Friends of Hetton Lyons Park

Friends of Hetton Lyons Country Park marked the bicentenary of the sinking of Hetton Colliery and the opening of Hetton Colliery Railway, an eight-mile line from Hetton to the River Wear at Sunderland, with a celebration and unveiling of new installations at the park.

The occasion was marked with a miners parade around Hetton Lyons Country Park and featured over 180 children from local schools having an educational activity day in which they will take a journey back in time to learn how coal was formed millions of years ago.

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Sunderland school children at the bicentenary celebration

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As part of the anniversary, the group, unveiled new heritage locomotive artwork, welcome notices and a heritage trail, which was all funded by the local community.

Shirley Carr, secretary of the FHLCP, said, “We intend that this will provide an educational resource for local children and adults alike, commemorating the story of their forebears, and offering interesting background information for visitors to the many sporting and social events which the park hosts.

“It will provide a visitors attraction during the Hetton Colliery Railway 200 Bicentennial celebrations at the 2022 Hetton Carnival on June 18 and 19 2022.”

School children, who were from Eppleton Primary Academy School, Hetton Lyons Primary School and Easington Lane Primary School, viewed fossils and Hetton Colliery and Railway memorabilia, had a storytelling by Captain Raggy Beard, and took part in fun mining and railway games and crafts.

The parade makes its way through Hetton Country Park for the unveiling of a statue in the park. Picture by FRANk REID

The Friends of Hetton Lyons Country Park are group of local residents, volunteers and recreational/sports park users who link with others to provide activities/events for the public and achieve improvements in Hetton Lyons Country Park.

The group regularly fundraises to hold activities and make improvements in the park and often work within the local community.

Hetton Colliery Railway was designed by George Stephenson and was the world’s first purpose-built steam railway, it drew visits from engineers all over the world at the time, yet is little known today.

By the railway lines closure in 1959, it was recognised as the oldest mineral railway in Great Britain.

The statue at Hetton Country Park. Picture by FRANK REID