Pit wheel memorial honours village's miners

The Advertiser Series: North Skelton Band master Denis Noble, Coxhoe Banner Group chairman Robert Robinson, secretary Jenny Robinson, Rev Christopher Wood-Archer and Councillor Maria Plews in front of the Coxhoe mining memorial (8789989) North Skelton Band master Denis Noble, Coxhoe Banner Group chairman Robert Robinson, secretary Jenny Robinson, Rev Christopher Wood-Archer and Councillor Maria Plews in front of the Coxhoe mining memorial (8789989)

A LONG-running campaign to erect a memorial to miners killed in a village’s pits has finally ended in success.

A pit wheel mining memorial has been unveiled on Coxhoe’s village green, eight years after members of Coxhoe Banner Group set out on the project.

Chairman Robert Robinson said: “I was in tears. There were a lot of tears shed that day.

“We’ve had so many knock-backs in those eight years. But we weren’t going to give up – we were going to keep fighting.

“Everything was a blur that morning. I still go down every to see it’s definitely there.”

The Banner Group was founded 12 years ago and its first task was to have a new miners’ banner created for the village.

Once that had been achieved, members turned to the memorial.

They bought a genuine pit wheel from Coal UK in Doncaster but encountered problems finding a site, buying the plot and securing funding, so the wheel remained in storage for several years.

After several different groups started to work together, progress speeded up around two years ago, leading to the memorial being unveiled on the morning of this year’s Durham Miners’ Gala, Saturday, July 12.

North Skelton Band performed, Rev Christopher Wood-Archer led a service and the wheel was unveiled by Jenny Robinson, Banner Group secretary, and county councillor Maria Plews.

Cllr Plews said: “It was a wonderful day, an emotional day. It took so long to get it.”

The overall cost of the project was about £70,000.

The wheel stands on limestone flagstones and against a limestone wall, honouring the village’s quarries, and includes sleepers, representing the village’s railway heritage.

Mr Robinson, himself a former miner, said: “It’s lovely. A lot of people don’t know that’s where the old Long Row pit houses were.”

In future, the names of men and boys who died in Coxhoe’s three pits, West Hetton, Joint Stocks and Clay Hole, and one drift mine could be added to the memorial and flowers and interpretation boards added nearby.

Mr Robinson also hopes to restore a historic wall which was removed.

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