Return of Silksworth pit wheel moves a step closer

A pit wheel from a long-closed coal mine could soon be a step closer to a return home

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 9:00 am

In March Sunderland City Council meeting approved £17,500 towards the cost of relocating the wheel. Total cost is estimated at £25,000 to £30,000, with the difference being met by community fundraising.

Currently it stands in the centre of Albany. But an engraving on the hub of the wheel states that it was used at Silksworth Colliery between 1868 and 1971.

On Monday, September 6 representatives from Silksworth’s former mining community, including the Silksworth Banner Group, meet the council’s planning committee to discuss the relocation. A decision is expected then and it seems likely that approval will be given.

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

The delegation will be supported by Cllr Phil Tye, who represents the Silksworth ward and helped launch the campaign in 2020 to have the wheel returned.

If the move goes ahead the 5-metre diameter artefact will be mounted on a plinth off Silksworth Lane near the Aged Miners cottages. Total height would be 6.5 metres.

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

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

The hub of the wheel shows exactly where it belongs.

Cllr Tye said: “My late father worked at the pit at the age of 16 in 1955 and worked until its closure in 1971, before moving over to Wearmouth again until its closure.

“I am proud to be the son of a miner and hugely proud of my mining routes in Silksworth.

“It’s been a huge task negotiating with the good people of Albany and I must thank the council’s Area Arrangements team, the heritage Team and planning team for getting this to where we are today.

“I can’t wait to see the wheel standing proud on the previous site of the pit being reunited 50 years later.”

Silksworth Colliery ended production on November 6, 1971 after more than a century. It claimed the lives of 126 men and boys. The last recorded fatality was that of Percy Matthewson in 1955 who died of asphyxia.

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