Gathering will recall memories of South Shields pit

Former miners, from left, Coun Jim Perry, Jim Robson and Ronnie Peterson are calling out to other ex-pitmen to join them at their annual reunion at Harton and Westoe Miners' Welfare Club in South Shields.
Former miners, from left, Coun Jim Perry, Jim Robson and Ronnie Peterson are calling out to other ex-pitmen to join them at their annual reunion at Harton and Westoe Miners' Welfare Club in South Shields.

A new era for former miners dawns this month as they host an annual reunion event.

For the first time, members of the Westoe branch of the Mechanics’ Union will celebrate their annual get-together with members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Hopefully by joining together it will open up the event to more groups of ex-miners who worked at Westoe Colliery.

Ronnie Peterson

That joining of forces was made possible by the two unions amalgamating last year.

The event aims to give ex-miners formerly employed at Westoe Colliery in South Shields the chance to get together and reminisce about past times.

The reunion will be held at Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Club, in Low Lane, South Shields, on Friday, starting at 7pm.

Club trustee Ronnie Peterson said: “Last year was the final reunion of the Westoe mechanics as a stand-alone union. Now we are heading into a new era following the amalgamation of the Mechanics’ Union with the National Union of Mineworkers.

“Hopefully, by joining together, it will open up the event to more groups of ex-miners who worked at Westoe Colliery.

“Our reunion nights are always well attended and are a great occasion for everyone who worked at the pit to come together, socialise and talk about their time at the colliery.” The shaft at Westoe Colliery was sunk in 1911, and the pit was breaking production records by the early 1960s.

However, the colliery faced geological and water problems and, following a decision by the then Conservative government, the pit, the last one on the Tyne, closed in June 1993.

The closure left hundreds of miners on the dole.

Prior to its closure, its workers had been involved in the mining strike of 1984 and 1985. Coun Jim Perry, a South Tyneside Council ward member for Primrose in Jarrow, worked as an electrician at the pit during the strike.

He became the branch secretary for the Mechanics’ Union and spent much of the dispute on the picket line outside Westoe Colliery.

He said: “This reunion is a great opportunity for people who may not have seen each other since the mine closed to come along and renew old friendships.”

The NUM represents miners past and present, working or retired, as well as their families, and despite the closure of pits throughout the country, it is still active.

For information, call 456 6166 or visit www.num.org.uk