National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Ashington Colliery Disaster Memorial

Summary

Type Statue

     A bronze statue of a colliery deputy in breeches, short-sleeved shirt and flat cap with hand raised to hold a lamp (the lamp no longer exists). The tall tapering, light granite pedestal on which it stands has drinking basins to the west and east and a carved wreath in relief high up on the south face. On the north face there is a bronze plaque on the base of the pedestal with a view in low relief of a colliery complete with miners and a colliery railway.
     The memorial was erected in Hirst Park, Ashington, in 1923. It was moved to Woodhorn Colliery Museum in 1991 at the request of Bob Howard, the son of one of the victims. The sculptor broke with tradition by not depicting the figure with a pick over his shoulder and lamp by his side (see Canavan's Miner TWNE45). Since the majority of men killed were deputies, it was thought appropriate that the statue should show a deputy whose 'practised eye can, by the action of the flame, recognise the presence of gas and so warn the workers of possible danger.' It was hoped also that this pose would serve as a 'reminder that Safety First should be the watchword.'
     The memorial commemorates the Woodhorn Colliery's worst disaster. On the morning of Sunday, 13th August 1916, at about 7.00 a.m. an explosion ripped through the pit killing eleven men instantly and two others who died later in hospital. The losses would have been far greater had it not been a Sunday when there were only thirty men down the pit. The disaster was particularly hard for the community to bear because it occurred at a time when many men from the colliery were being lost in France. One of the victims, Walter Hughes, aged, 38 with four children had only the week before returned from spending a period in hospital after he had been gassed in the trenches.(1)

Inscriptions

Raised Roman letters on bronze plaque on south face of the base of pedestal: ERECTED BY / THE MINERS AND / DEPUTIES TRADE- / UNION BRANCHES IN THE ASHINGTON GROUP / OF COLLIERIES (ASSISTED / BY DONATIONS FROM THE / ASHINGTON AND CO. LTD., THE NORTHUMDERLAND / MINERS ASSOCIATION, THE NORTHUMBERLAND / DEPUTIES ASSOCIATION AND FRIENDS) / IN MEMORY OF THEIR FELLOW WORKMEN / WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE WOODHORN / COLLIERY EXPLOSION ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 13TH 1916 / (names underneath)

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Reid, John Sculptor
Knowles, William Henry Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Pedestal Granite 700cm high approx x 138cm square
Statue Bronze 190cm

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
NORT55 NE
General condition Good
Surface condition
Structural condition
Vandalism
Road A197
Precise location Woodhorn Colliery Museum, car park
A-Z ref None
OS ref NZ883283
Date of design 1923
Year of unveiling 1923
Unveiling details Erected 1923; re-erected 1991
Commissioned by None
Duty of care Woodhorn Colliery Museum
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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