Ex-miners left to pick up bill for new banner

FUNDRAISING BOOST ... Harton Miners' Banner Group with the artwork created by Bob Olley, centre left, with John Watson and Coun Ernest Gibson (back left); right, the mining banner.
FUNDRAISING BOOST ... Harton Miners' Banner Group with the artwork created by Bob Olley, centre left, with John Watson and Coun Ernest Gibson (back left); right, the mining banner.

A CASH crisis has left a group of former miners picking up the bill for a new banner marking an historic pit disaster.

Last year was the 175th anniversary of the devastating gas explosion at St Hilda’s Colliery in South Shields.

Pupils from St Bedes R C Primary School design the St Hilda's Colliery disaster banner

Pupils from St Bedes R C Primary School design the St Hilda's Colliery disaster banner

To mark the tragedy – where 51 men and boys, including victims as young as 12, were killed – a banner was created with the help of South Tyneside artist Bob Olly.

It had been hoped the £8,000 cost would be paid for by a bid for funding from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

However, the bid fell through.

The group, which is based at Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare, in South Shields, has already raised more than £4,000 towards the cost through fundraising and donations.

Now Mr Olley has stepped in to help with their efforts by offering one of his prints as a raffle prize.

John Watson, secretary of the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Banner Group, said: “We were bitterly disappointed we did not receive funding to help with the creation of the banner.

“Last year was such a poignant year, it was 175 years since the mining disaster, a tragedy which changed the face of the industry.

“As a group we are trying to protect and educate young people of our mining heritage.”

The banner also featured designs by youngsters from St Bede’s RC Primary School, South Shields, as the school provided a place where the victims’ bodies were taken.

A fundraising night will be held at Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare on March 27 from 7pm to midnight.

Tickets, priced £3, for the karaoke and race night are on sale from the venue in Low Lane, South Shields, contacting Mr Watson on 07827925232 or from Coun Ernest Gibson on 07795542267.

Twitter @shieldsgazlisa