Calls for statue to honour Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the miners' Davy lamp, in Hebburn

Calls have been made for a statue to be installed in Hebburn to honour the creator of a mining lamp which helped save thousands of lives.

By Nic Marko
Friday, 10th June 2022, 6:34 pm

Cllr John McCabe, Hebburn South representative on South Tyneside Council, is campaigning for Sir Humphry Davy to be remembered for his work in the area helping to keep miners safe.

He said he would like to see a “substantial memorial”, such as something similar to the Tommy statue in Seaham.

Sir Humphry came to Hebburn around 1812 and researched how to provide safer means of lighting coal mines, and his work resulted in him inventing the miners’ safety lamp.

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Mining lamps.

He successfully tested his safety lamp at Hebburn Colliery in 1816, which quickly went into production and had an immediate impact in helping to support coal mining.

It consisted of a gauze chimney over a brass lamp, and prior to its invention miners would use candles or other naked flames, which carried a serious risk of causing explosions due to the presence of ‘firedamp’.

Cllr McCabe, supported by Hebburn North representative Cllr Adam Ellison, said they have already begun earmarking funding for the project, which would provide a boost to the area.

Cllr McCabe said: “I’ve had this in my mind since I was a young boy, I’ve lived in Hebburn all my life and I think people forget about why Hebburn exists, the industrial revolution made Hebburn what it is now.

The statue could take shape next to the new Hebburn Minewater energy scheme building, it was suggested.

“I think we need to boost the town centre, we need to boost tourism. People living in Hebburn, a lot of them who are new to Hebburn, will be totally unaware of these links.”

Cllr McCabe, who is a retired mining engineer and a member of North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, said he would like to see the statue incorporated at the site of the new Hebburn Minewater Project.

He added: “Personally I would like to see a miner standing with a safety lamp in one hand and in his other holding a child by the hand, because that miners’ safety lamp saved many lives.

“Part of me will never be away from coal mines, but the fact that we’re using Hebburn mine water to heat buildings and save on carbon emissions, that is a tremendous move forward as well.”

John McCabe.

Cllr McCabe said the next steps include exploring further avenues for funding for the project, and reaching out to schools and community organisations for their views.

It comes after he announced his plans for the project, which he hopes will come forward in “18 to 20 months”, at a Hebburn Community Area Forum meeting.

He added anyone interested in getting in touch on the project should contact him using details available on https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/.

The giant Davy Lamp outside the Stadium of Light, part of artworks commemorating Wearmouth Colliery.
Sir Humphry Davy, Bt, by Henry Howard (1803). National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 4591. Reproduced under the terms of CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.