A CHURCH bell will toll 168 times to mark the 100th anniversary of one of region’s worst coal mining disasters.
A service will take place 100 years to the moment after the explosion ripped through West Stanley Colliery, in County Durham, on February, 16, 1909.
Two events have been organised to commemorate the lives of the 168 men and boys who perished in the tragedy.
On Monday, February 16, a service will be held at the site of the tragedy. Derwentside District Council has organised the service of commemoration, at 3.15pm, next to the pit wheel memorial to the dead, near to the King’s Head playing fields in the town.
The memorial, which was opened in 1995 by former Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan, whose grandfather, Frank, was one of more than 30 men who survived the blast and risked his life by going to help others escape, has been refurbished and restored by the council over the past few months.
A marquee is being put up over the memorial, which will be open sided to let as many people as possible take part.
During the service, bugles from the South Shields branch of the Durham Light Infantry Association will play the Last Post, before the bell of nearby St Andrew’s Church is rung 168 times. A two-minute silence will be held.
Meanwhile local historians Jack Hair and Bob Drake have organised a centenary memorial service, which will be held at St Andrew’s Church on Saturday at noon.
Mr Hair, of Mandela Close, Stanley, said: “This is to pay tribute to the men and boys who lost their lives in that disaster and all of those who were killed or injured in mining accidents.”
The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, will give an address at the service. Music will be provided by Craghead Colliery Band, with singing from Annfield Plain Gleemen Male Voice Choir.