Historic Silksworth pit wheel returning to former home after plans approved by Sunderland councillors

A historic pit wheel from a long-closed coal mine is returning to its former home after a committee unanimously backed plans for the move.

The Silksworth Colliery pit wheel currently stands in the centre of Albany.
The Silksworth Colliery pit wheel currently stands in the centre of Albany.

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee were presented with proposals to relocate an existing pit wheel from Albany Village to a new site in Silksworth.

Residents of Silksworth launched a campaign to return the pit wheel to the area, after it was discovered original markings on its centre stated that it was used at Silksworth Colliery between 1868 and 1971.

Councillors at the meeting on Monday evening unanimously supported the proposals to relocate the pit wheel, subject to routine conditions, which was in line with council officer recommendations

Coun Phil Tye launched a campaign to take the wheel to Silksworth.

Cllr Phil Tye, who represents the Silksworth ward and has been involved with the campaign to have the wheel returned, spoke at the meeting about how the plans came about, and the historical benefits it would have for the area.

He said: “It was absolutely random that a local resident saw it in Albany and that’s where we started four years ago.

“You can imagine, the first phone call I got the same day was they’ve got our pit wheel, we want it back.

“It’s a delight to see it in its true form, it hasn’t been tampered with, it hasn’t been damaged.

The hub of the wheel shows exactly where it belongs.

“It’s quite phenomenal the history that we have in our localities and why it’s just so important for the community to be able to have something back and something to remember it.”

He added detailed consultation had been carried out with residents over the plans, which were submitted by City Council officers, and representatives from Silksworth’s former mining community helped work on the proposals, with some attending Monday’s meeting.

Cllr Tye added some residents were also fundraising locally for additions around the pit wheel, such as a memorial seat .

The five-metre diameter artefact will be mounted on a plinth off Silksworth Lane near the Aged Miners cottages.

The total cost is estimated at £25,000 to £30,000, with the difference being met by community fundraising.

Campaigners hope to have the monument in place before the end of 2021, to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of Silksworth Colliery.

Albany, also rich in mining heritage, will be provided with a replacement wheel donated from the nearby ‘F’ Pit Museum.

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