Pit wheel artwork approved as Sunderland communities mark mining heritage

Plans for a public ‘pit wheel artwork’ in Washington have been given the go-ahead by city councillors.

The previous pit wheel has now been removed and will be relocated to Silksworth, where it served the colliery between 1868 and 1971.
The previous pit wheel has now been removed and will be relocated to Silksworth, where it served the colliery between 1868 and 1971.

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee, on August 1, 2022, approved plans for the new structure in the centre of Albany Village.

This was linked to a campaign to bring the pit wheel home after original markings were discovered on the pit wheel stating it was used at Silksworth Colliery between 1868 and 1971.

What the wheel could look like this when installation is complete.

Councillors for Washington West, which includes Albany, previously said they were satisfied with the pit wheel being moved as long as there was a suitable replacement.

Following the planning decision by councillors at City Hall this week, a pit wheel artwork will return to Albany to help celebrate the area’s rich mining heritage.

The “replacement public realm artwork” is planned for a round paved area within the centre of the car park where the previous pit wheel monument once stood.

The pit wheel would measure 3.2 metres in width and would stand on the existing plinth at a maximum height of approximately 6.3 metres.

A committee report prepared for the Planning and Highways Committee adds: “The pit wheel proposed for installation at Washington Albany Village centre is currently located at Washington F-Pit.

“This wheel is surplus to requirements so will be used as a replacement wheel for Albany following the removal of their wheel earlier this year to return it to Silksworth”.

Council planners, in the report, also confirmed the proposal would “not lead to any adverse impact to residential/visual amenity and would [be] acceptable in highway safety terms”.

Plans are part of a wider £4.6 million regeneration scheme for the area, which will see improvements to the Washington F-Pit Museum with a new visitor centre and improvements to Albany Park.

Proposals include more greenery and landscape features, as well as security measures such as CCTV and new lighting to tackle issues of anti-social behaviour including unauthorised access by motorbikes or quad bikes.