Memories of life down Rising Sun pit relived

MEMORIES of life down a Tyneside pit have been captured in a new book.

MEMORIES of life down a Tyneside pit have been captured in a new book.

The author, Ron Curran, himself worked at the Rising Sun Colliery, in Wallsend, North Tyneside, for 25 years.

He brought together his own experiences as well as those of other members of the public to publish Wallsend Best.

Mr Curran, now 82, of Belford, Northumberland, started working at the pit at the age of 16. He was a colliery blacksmith based on the surface but was regularly called upon to carry out mechanical repairs underground.

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The mine, which opened in 1910, was owned by the Wallsend and Hebburn Coal Company but was taken over by the National Coal Board in 1947.

North Shields-born Mr Curran, a great-grandfather of six, said: “When I look back, I realise it was a hard life. At the time we just carried on with our daily jobs and did what we were asked to do without thinking about it.

“There were plenty of hazards, with accidents taking place down the pit. Falling stones were a major factor and the miners had to put up with dangers of flooding and dust affecting their lungs.

“But, as I have tried to show in my book, the workers had their own community. People socialised with each other, shared their joys and sorrows.

“The comradeship in sharing dangers and hardship created a common bond which has lasted beyond the life of the pit. There was something special in the relationship people shared at the colliery.”

Before writing the book, he made an appeal for pictures and personal memories from people with connections to the Rising Sun and collected a wealth of material highlighting everything from miners’ picnics and jazz bands to the last days of the colliery which closed in 1969 and is now a country park.

The pictures include one of miners posing at the No 1 shaft before going underground, a pony on sports day on the sports field in the mid 1960s, the last cage up at the colliery in July 1969, and the Rising Sun Colliery Legionnaires Juvenile Jazz Band in 1966.

Mr Curran, who was also a union official and campaigned to save the pit from closure, said: “Hundreds of people were connected to the colliery in some way or the other and I am sure their sons, daughters or grandchildren will find this book of interest.”

Wallsend Best has been published by Summerhill Books, a Newcastle company specialising in local history.

Priced at £9.99, it is available at North Tyneside Libraries, Segedunum Museum in Wallsend, Borders in Wallsend, Harry Smith’s and Keel Row Books in North Shields, Fenwick and Robinsons in Newcastle.

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