The records of 200,000 miners who worked in the Durham Coalfield can now be viewed online.
Volunteers working on Mining Durham’s Hidden Depths project have spent five years cataloguing and indexing records from Durham Miners’ Association.
Their work means that visitors to the Durham County Record Office website can search for a miner online and find out what records are held in the archives for that person.
The project was launched in 2009 with funding for just six months.
However, some volunteers have continued indexing copies of arbitration committee minutes, signing-on books, accident books and other documents and now the number of miners referenced has reached 200,000.
Liz Bregazzi, county archivist, said:
“We are very grateful to all of our volunteers for their hard work in helping build up this important database.
“The database is very popular, receiving more than 100,000 page views last year and about 45,000 so far this year so it’s great that it continues to grow.
“Anyone who has checked the index in the past and not been able to find the miner they are searching for should definitely take another look now that so many more names have been added.”
However, other records give much more detail about individual miners and any injuries and compensation they and their dependants received.
The database is at www.durhamrecordoffice.org.uk
Source – Durham Times, 24 Oct 2014
Wine glasses have been discovered which reveal a terrible two years in the mining history of a Tyneside town.
The four-inch high glasses from the 1830s are etched to commemorate an explosion at Jarrow Colliery which cost 42 lives and the hanging and gibbeting of miner William Jobling – the last man to suffer this fate in Britain.
The glasses were part of the personal effects of Edith Harris, who lived in Scotland but was from Blyth, Northumberland. She had inherited the glasses from her grandparents, who lived in Jarrow in the 1830s and may have had mining connections.
After her death the glasses passed to her nephew, William Ritson, of Cullercoats, whose widow Mileta considered giving the glasses to a charity shop as she sorted through items.
Instead she took the glasses to Newcastle auction house Anderson and Garland, who will put them up for sale on Tuesday.
Auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch said: “You would be forgiven walking past the glasses as standard 19th Century items worth a few pounds at a push. These however are engraved with local historic interest that the authorities would probably rather forget. They are a wonderful insight into the world of 19th Century miners.”
Jarrow Colliery had a woeful disaster record.
In 1817 an explosion killed six miners and 1826 another 34 died. In 1828 another eight miners were killed t the colliery and in 1830 an explosion left a death toll of 42.
The Times reported: “The explosion took place in Jarrow Colliery, and 23 men and 17 boys were instantly destroyed, and several others hurt, some of whom so severely that recovery is not expected. The men generally are of the married class, some of whom have left large families.”
In 1845 yet another explosion killed 39.
Unrest in the mines led to strikes and it was amid one such stoppage that William Jobling’s fate was sealed.
He was convicted at Durham Assizes of killing 71-year-old local magistrate Nicholas Fairles near Jarrow Slake at the height of the 1832 miners’ strike in the Durham and Northumberland coalfields.
Jobling was with Ralph Armstrong, who a dying Fairles identified as his killer. Armstrong escaped and was never found.
Judge Parke in his summing up attacked the unions, saying: “Combinations which are alike injurious to the public interest and to the interests of those persons concerned in them. I trust that death will deter them following your example.”
After the execution, Jobling was taken from the scaffold, his clothes were removed and his body covered in pitch. He was then riveted into an iron cage, made of flat iron bars two-and-a-half inches wide. In a wagon, drawn by two horses, his body was taken to Jarrow Slake escorted by a troop of Hussars and two companies of infantry.
The gibbet was fixed near the spot where the murder was committed. Jobling’s body mysteriously disappeared and one theory is that fellow pitmen took it down, held a burial service, and lowered the remains into a nearby disused pit shaft.
A section of the gibbet is on show at South Shields Museum.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 30 July 2014
A replacement has been found for a police band that quit a theatre show amid vociferous protests over their involvement.
Durham Miners’ Association Band has agreed to take over from Durham Constabulary Brass Band in a production of Brassed Off, at Darlington Civic Theatre, next month.
The mining community, including Durham Miners Assocition itself, had objected to a band with police links taking part in the show, which tells the tale of a colliery band battling for its future amid pit closures and job losses.
Although the police band is made up of civilians, objectors felt its involvement was inappropriate given the resentment that still lingers over the role officers played in the 1984 Miners’ Strike.
Producer Jenny King, of the Touring Consortium Theatre Company, which is staging Brassed Off, acknowledged that it would have been much easier if the miners’ association band had been booked in the first place, rather than the police band.
She said: “We take this show all over the country and everywhere we go, we need local bands, if possible with a connection to the mining industry.
“We have two or three people sourcing bands and we are incredibly grateful to Durham Miners’ Association for coming to the rescue.
“The show will be all the better for it, their commitment will be fantastic.”
Ms King added that all brass bands used in the production are amateurs, as to pay professional rates would fall foul of the Musicians’ Union.
She confirmed that, although expenses are paid, the miners’ association band will not receive a fee for its role in the production, nor would the police band had it taken part.
Source – Northern Echo 22 Feb 2014