Woodhorn Museum calls for miners to attend reunion

Woodhorn Colliery miners have been asked to contact Woodhorn Museum to attend a grand reunion

Peter Crighton The last tea at Woodhorn Colliery

A museum built on the site of a former North East pit is looking for formers workers there to attend a grand reunion.

Woodhorn, near Ashington, is appealing for anyone who worked in the mine - including surface workers at the pit - during its 82-year history to contact it.

Work to sink the shafts at Woodhorn began in 1894 and the first coal was brought to the surface four years later in 1898. At its peak almost 2,000 men worked at the pit producing 600,000 tons of coal each year.

Although production stopped in 1981, the tunnels and shafts continued to be used for neighbouring Ashington Colliery until 1986 with a small team of men remaining on site to maintain access.

Woodhorn is now a museum dedicated to the mining industry, whose director Keith Merrin said: “Woodhorn has undergone many changes since those industrious days, and looking around the historic site now as it buzzes with happy holiday families enjoying the exhibitions and exploring the buildings, it’s hard for non-miners to imagine what it must have been like.

“So much has changed in those intervening years, but the stories and memories will remain with the men who worked underground, and the men and women who worked ‘on bank’, and this reunion is a wonderful opportunity to bring together old friends and rekindle, even just for one evening, the comradeship and community bond.

Woodhorn miners reunited, l-r Colin Garbut, Bob Robson & Billy Walker
Woodhorn miners reunited, l-r Colin Garbut, Bob Robson & Billy Walker
 

“We are delighted that this event is to take place at the museum, and hope that as many people as possible take the opportunity to come together, meet old friends and ‘have a bit crack’.”

The reunion will take place on September 27.

Anyone interested in attending should call 07984 295361 for more information and to reserve places.

Among those who have already reserved their place at the reunion is Billy Walker, who followed his father in working at Woodhorn.

He worked at the pit for 17 years from the mid-1950s, cutting coal by hand, and recalls its friendly, family atmosphere. Though he later left the mining industry, he came back to it towards the end of his working life at a pit in Selby, Yorkshire.

He said: “I’m hoping to see lads I haven’t seen in years. I don’t get out so much these days but I’ve got a set routine where I go to the same club. I think my old work mates will be the same so our paths don’t cross. The reunion will be a great opportunity to catch up, talk about the old days, and have a canny crack.”

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