Over the past couple of weeks, the volunteers have been helping the collections team to rotate our beloved pit banners ready for your enjoyment.
We rotate the banners on display every year, and this year we wanted to remember the thousands of men and women that worked at the Woodhorn Coal Mine. 2021 marks forty years since the Woodhorn Colliery pit closed. We wanted to celebrate this by displaying our Woodhorn Colliery banner at the very beginning of our banner ramp ready for you to enjoy throughout this significant year.
Some of you might have already noticed the changes were taking place.
As you can imagine some of the banners are rather large, so we find it easier to do this on days we are closed. This allows us to lay the pit banners out in all their glory whilst we condition check, very gently vacuum, then photograph them.
We take great pride in caring for our pit banners. We know how much they mean to our local communities, so we want to preserve them for as long as possible. Carrying out condition checks helps us to identify if any of our banners need to be seen by a specialist conservator before any future appearances on the ramp take place.
In the next few weeks, we will have completed our rotation. This will see the following banners up on the Banner Ramp for your enjoyment until summer 2022.
Newbiggin Labour Party Women’s Section
Banner of the Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Labour Party Women’s section. The banner front features green and white text which reads, ‘Love Ye One Another’. The reverse reads, Newbiggin-By-Sea Labour Party Womens Section’.
Seaton Burn & Brenkley Colliery
During the 1845-5 Miner’s strike the Brenkley and Seaton Burn union branch decided they needed a banner. Money was scarce for such luxuries when striking families were suffering hardship. But a sail maker in North Shields came to the rescue.
Sail makers, Thomas Young and Son made this very simple banner. The banner was to have a short life. In December 1985, just nine months after the of the year-long miner’s strike, the Brenkley Drift was closed.
To celebrate the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 the Seghill union branch ordered a new banner. But there was just one problem. The rationing of goods like fabric, during and after the second world war, meant the branch would have to save enough ration coupons!
They succeeded and must have had a few spare coupons left over. During the ceremony in 1947 to unroll the banner, branch officials presented new kettles to the residents of the local Aged Miner’s Homes.
Rising Sun Wallsend
The image on the front of the Rising Sun banner celebrates the mechanisation and modernisation of the colliery after the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947. The reverse of the banner tells a different story.
Nationalisation of the coal industry heralded an extensive programme of pit closures during the 50’s and 60’s. Blutcher, Coronation, Isabella, Maria, Seghill , Mickley, West Wylam and Montague were some of the casualties.
This banner’s life was short. The Rising Sun pit became another victim of closure in 1969. The banner was manufactured by George Tutill Ltd.
Woodhorn Colliery waited 66 years for its first banner to be unfurled. Coal had been mined at Woodhorn since 1894 but It wasn’t until 1960 that it paraded its first banner. What a wonderful sight it was!
The new banner was unrolled in front of delighted union officials and then paraded through the streets led by the colliery band.
Below is a short video of volunteer Maurice carefully installing the new banner with the help of Georgina Ascroft, Curator of Mining Culture.