Blessing for statue honouring miners

The Bishop of Jarrow is to bless the statue of a mining family at Concord, Washington, in Wearside.

The Miner's Statue symbolises the Washington coal mining community and pays particular tribute to members of the community who lost their lives in the mines.

In 1828, an explosion in Washington "I" pit killed 14 people, including three boys below the age of 10.

An explosion in the Washington "F" pit in 1867 killed 10 miners, including two boys.

Springwell Colliery suffered two methane gas explosions. The first in 1833 killed 47 miners, including five children below the age of 10. The second explosion in 1837 killed 27 miners.

In 1844, around 40,000 miners met at Shadon's Hill to fight for better and safer conditions. They formed a trade union to this end but it was soon broken up as a result of stern opposition from the mine owners.

Usworth Colliery was opened in 1845 and was the scene of another large disaster in 1885, when an underground explosion killed 41 miners. Usworth was the last Washington pit and closed in 1974.

In addition to the Miner's Statue, the Rt Rev Mark Bryant will bless banners made by children from local schools paying tribute to the mining community.

The blessing on Sunday has been organised by Les Simpson, Chair of Usworth Miners Banner Group, and Derek Sleightholme, Secretary of Washington Heritage Miners Group.

Councillor Bernard Scaplehorn, the Mayor of Sunderland City Council, and the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association will also be in attendance.