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.
Gary Kirsop, head of property services at South Tyneside Homes, said: “We are very proud of our apprentices who have really risen to the challenge of helping to create a casing for the banner.
“It not only offered them a great opportunity to work with our tradesmen and develop their skills, but get involved in a community project with their work on show as part of the display.”
Marsden Banner Group chairman, Brian Cauwood, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather all worked at Whitburn Colliery, said: “We are grateful to all those who have helped with this restoration and been involved in bringing it back to where it belongs – right at the heart of the local community.”
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.