A village is proudly displaying a newly-restored reminder of its coal mining heritage.
The Marsden Lodge Banner, which represents all those pitmen who worked at Whitburn Colliery (also known as Marsden Colliery), was returned to South Tyneside in January last year after it had been in storage for more than two decades in the Miner’s Hall in Durham.
Since then, the banner has been lovingly restored by the Marsden Banner Group, a team of enthusiastic local volunteers dedicated to preserving the area’s mining heritage.
The colourful silk banner, which features the iconic image of Marsden Rock with the adage ‘Firm as a rock we stand’, has now been put on permanent display at Whitburn Library much to the delight of Whitburn and Marsden ward members, councillors Tracey Dixon, who is on the Banner Group committee, Peter Boyack and Sylvia Spraggon.
Speaking on behalf of the ward members, Coun Boyack said: “We’re all very proud of our rich mining heritage and it’s wonderful to see the Marsden Lodge Banner restored back to its former glory and put on display in the Borough for the public to view.
“It is a treasured memento, which marks Whitburn Colliery’s contribution to the once-thriving coal mining past, and up until now, it had remained hidden from sight since 1983.
“We’re delighted it now takes pride of place in the village and is helping to keep the spirit and culture of the local mining community alive.”
Coun Dixon added: “The vibrant colliery banners are icons of mining communities but the Marsden Lodge Banner was in a poor state of repair when it was returned to the Borough.
“The restoration project has taken many months to complete but we are delighted with the finished article.
“We’re really pleased that by displaying this symbol of mining life we can remind our younger generation of the significant role this industry played in the lives of their communities.”
The community-led restoration project has been supported with £500 funding from the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum and the skills of young apprentices from South Tyneside Homes Property Services Team who created the display case.
The intricate repair work was carried out by banner restorer Billy Middleton, a former blacksmith at Thornley and Easington collieries.
Whitburn Colliery opened in 1879 and was part of the South Tyneside coalmining industry until its closure in 1968.Before it went on display in Whitburn, the banner had not been seen on display since 1983 when it was carried at the centenary celebration of the Durham Miner’s Gala.
Source – Newcastle Journal 09 April 2014
Despite grassroots protests, including occupation of threatened buildings, by Hands Off Sunderland Libraries, nine libraries across Sunderland have been closed by the city council, in a bid to save 850,000 pounds.
The libraries affected are those at Doxford Park, Easington Lane, East Herrington, Fence Houses, Hendon, Monkwearmouth, Silksworth, Southwick and Washington Green.
Coun. John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture: “This is a very emotive subject and we recognise the strength of people’s feelings.
“As I’ve said before, we probably wouldn’t have gone down this route if the council didn’t need to make 110 million pounds savings as a result of cuts from central government. The fact is the library service needs to save 850,000 pounds, so we have had to look at changing how we do things as budgets continue to be cut and resources become ever more stretched.
“As councillors, we have to make difficult decisions . Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.
“But I firmly believe that the new library service will be much more flexible to fit in with people’s needs and will result in better services reaching more people across a wider range of locations.”
Eh ? How does closing public services across a wide range of locations reach more people across those same locations ? I suspect the only flexibility resulting will be the closed service users, who’ll have to be a lot more flexible to find an open library.
How much will be saved really ? Has any account been taken of vacant buildings needing to be maintained, books and equipment to be mothballed, staff who lose their jobs ?
“Had savings not been made here, they may have had to fall on children’s or adults services.” A nice attempt at emotional blackmail, but what exactly are libraries if not children and adult services ?
And should it be either/or anyway ? We know only too well about the nature of the current national government, but Sunderland City Council is Labour controlled. Shouldn’t they – and other Labour controlled councils – be providing, you know, opposition ? Getting together and going head-to-head with the government perhaps ? Making a moral stand ?
We’ve been promised years more austerity, whoever wins the next general election. Now the process has been started, which libraries will be next ?
As noted in no less an organ than Private Eye (#1349) –
Sunderland library chiefs have some handy advice on what can replace local libraries facing closure.
“Because of Facebook, because of gadgets, we dont need libraries the way we used to when I was 15,” Cllr Graeme Miller told a public meeting, which agreed proposals for the closure of nine libraries to save #850,000 a year.
Quite apart from how completely un-useful Facebook is for most homework, research or reading for pleasure, Sunderland is part of the UK region with the highest concentration of people off-line, with a recent survey finding only 42% of less well off people in the city had online access from any type of “gadget”, including computers, smart phones and so on.
Hands Off Sunderland Libraries on Facebook at –