World famous colliery band from South Shields remembered with Blue Plaque honour

The memory of a world famous brass band from South Tyneside will play on for future generations on after a commemorative Blue Plaque was unveiled.

Friday, 24th August 2018, 2:10 pm
Updated Friday, 24th August 2018, 2:10 pm
Deputy Mayor Coun Norman Dick unveils the Blue Plaque at St Hilda's Colliery, with John and Mary Taylor, and deputy mayoress, Jean Williamson

The plaque pays tribute to former St Hilda’s Colliery Band, which won the World Band Championships five times in 1912, 1920-21, 1924 and in 1926.

It was unveiled by the deputy mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Norman Dick, during a community open day celebrating a milestone in the restoration of St Hilda’s Pit Head in South Shields.

The Blue Plaque at St Hilda's Colliery.

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As a former miner, who worked at Harton Colliery in the early 60s, and at Westoe Colliery from 1976 until it closed 1992, the plaque unveiling was particularly poignant for Coun Dick.

While at Westoe, he also ended up working a few shifts at St Hilda’s – helping to keep the fires burning to prevent the shaft freezing in the winter.

The deputy mayor said: “This plaque is not only a lasting tribute to the band members and their achievements, but recognises the important role they played in the rich industrial and cultural heritage of the borough.

“The plaque is also a memorial to the men and boys who perished in the disaster of 1951 and all other miners who worked there over the decades of coal production.”

The achievements of St Hilda’s Colliery Band, which was made up of miners, were never equalled by any other brass band.

Funding involved an agreed deduction from wages and collecting ‘points’ when playing in the parks.

Their performances brought great pleasure and civic pride to South Shields.

The Blue Plaque was unveiled under a new scheme in which members of the public were invited to put forward nominations for the recognition of individuals or structures.

John Taylor nominated St Hilda’s Colliery Band.

He said: “My own grandfather and father played in the Hilda Colliery Band and I am proud to own one of those world championship medals.

“There are many descendants of the band members still residing in the Borough and I know they value such a tribute to their family members.”

St Hilda’s Pit Head has been renovated by the Tyne and Wear Preservation Trust and transformed into a centre for the community, with support from South Tyneside Council and the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund and others.