Coal mining memories: The F Pit in the spotlight 55 years after it closed

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It's an exhibition which ex-miners helped to shape

Decades of mining memories are on the way thanks to a new exhibition spotlighting Washington F Pit.

The stories of the people who worked there have been gathered - and so have photos, poems and plenty of other memorabilia.

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Washington F Pit in September 1978.Washington F Pit in September 1978.
Washington F Pit in September 1978. | se

The last generation of miners

It has been spearheaded by Sunderland photographer Andy Martin along with biographies and verbatim poems created by Dr Louise Powell.

It all captures the last generation of Washington miners' memories and sense of belonging in a changing coalfield community.

The 91-year-old who helped shape the exhibition

The ‘Coal Face’ exhibition will be open to the public at Washington F Pit throughout September. 

Alan Taitley, 91, who lives in Fulwell, was one of the ex-miners who participated in the project.

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Fulwell man Alan Taitley who worked at the F Pit and contributed to the new exhibition. Photo: Andy Martin.Fulwell man Alan Taitley who worked at the F Pit and contributed to the new exhibition. Photo: Andy Martin.
Fulwell man Alan Taitley who worked at the F Pit and contributed to the new exhibition. Photo: Andy Martin. | Andy Martin

Alan was born in Washington Glebe to a mining family and held roles including putting and power loading at F-Pit. After its closure, he worked at Boldon and Wearmouth Collieries.

'Sunderland was an integral part of the Durham coalfield'

The new display has been funded by heritage charity Redhills, The Cultural Spring and University College London (UCL).

It tells of an era when the pits were still open and operational, but where half a dozen pit villages had the superstructure of a new town imposed on top.   

Washington F Pit lodge at the Durham Miners Gala in 1967.Washington F Pit lodge at the Durham Miners Gala in 1967.
Washington F Pit lodge at the Durham Miners Gala in 1967. | se

Nick Malyan, Chief Executive of The Redhills Charity, said Washington and Sunderland were 'integral parts of the former Durham Coalfield'.

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He said Redhills was 'delighted to be working with not only a brilliant Sunderland photographer in Andy Martin but partnering with The Cultural Spring and Sunderland Culture to deliver an exhibition that is rooted so firmly in the people, culture and heritage of the area.“

A real insight into the coal industry

The Coal Face exhibition coincides with annual heritage open days, for which Washington F Pit opens to the public.

Despite officially closing as a pit in 1968, F Pit remains a historical attraction for locals and tourists wanting to learn about Sunderland's coal mining heritage. 

The exhibition will be open to the public from Monday, September 4 to Saturday, September 30 from 12pm to 3pm Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday).

Visiting is free and no tickets are required.

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