Remembering Sunderland's Wearmouth Colliery, 30 years on from its last shift

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An Echo film tribute to Durham's last pit

A poignant day in Wearside history is marked today.

It is 30 years since the last shift clocked off at Wearmouth Colliery which had been a part of Sunderland's industrial scene for 158 years.

Wearmouth pit which witness its last shift 30 years ago.Wearmouth pit which witness its last shift 30 years ago.
Wearmouth pit which witness its last shift 30 years ago. | se

300 pits at its height

The closure marked the end of the Durham coalfield which had once boasted more than 300 mines.

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At its height,it employed 165,000 people and Wearmouth pit alone employed more than 2,000 people in the years before its shutdown.

Clocking off for the last time.Clocking off for the last time.
Clocking off for the last time. | se

Its history stretches back to 1835 when it first began producing coal. By 1914, 2,600 people worked there.

Production records set in the 80s

The pit was still a mainstay of Wearside employment in the 1950s and a new tower winder was added.

By 1957, the National Coal Board was making changes and new overhead winding gear was brought in. There were bright days when production records were set. There were one million tonnes of coal lifted at Wearmouth in 1987.

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Celebrating a production record at Wearmouth pit.Celebrating a production record at Wearmouth pit.
Celebrating a production record at Wearmouth pit. | se

Gone but never forgotten

The pit was a huge undertaking. There were the men who went underground, the canteen workers, management. All contributed to a slick operation. But darker days lay ahead. The threat of closures and unemployment led to the miners strikes of 1984. Hundreds turned up on the picket lines.

The end came in the early 1990s and the last shift clocked off on December 10,1993.

The last shift at Wearmouth in December 1993.The last shift at Wearmouth in December 1993.
The last shift at Wearmouth in December 1993. | se

The legacy lives on

By 1995, there were hopes of a new future but not for mining. The site was being considered as the new home of Sunderland Football Club.

And by 1997, hordes of supporters would flock to the very place where their ancestors once toiled hard for coal.

Wearmouth pit may be gone. It is never forgotten.

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