Woodhorn Museum encompasses the iconic coal mine buildings of Woodhorn Colliery – the best preserved pit in Northumberland. It was part of the Ashington Coal Company from the late 1800s until nationalisation in 1947/8. It closed on the 27th February 1981. Ashington was known as the ‘biggest pit village in the world’ with nearly 30,000 inhabitants.
One of these was Jackie Milburn (1924 – 1988). He worked at Ashington Colliery as a fitter. His house looked out over the mine itself and his family all worked there. His childhood in Ashington was marked by his passion for football – he would walk 8 miles a day to and from school kicking a stone down the road to improve his ‘ball control’. In 1946 he signed for Newcastle United aged 22. He became a folk hero overnight. He went on to play for England. As part of the Ashington footballing dynasty that included Jack and Bobby Charlton, Milburn’s name is etched into the hearts of every Geordie – everyone in the area seems to have a ‘Wor Jackie’ story.
Stokes’s work looks at Jackie the family man, father and husband. Stokes draws upon a collection recently donated by Jackie’s son Jack to Woodhorn Museum. Items include a reel-to-reel tape recorder and some ‘Soundmirror’ tapes that record family gatherings, chats and sing-songs. You can read more about Stokes’s ‘Soundmirror’ here.