Me­mo­rial will mark ‘for­got­ten’ tragedy


The Chronicle - - News - By MIKE KELLY

Re­porter A ME­MO­RIAL to the vic­tims of a ‘for­got­ten’ North East pit dis­as­ter has been un­veiled.

The Towne­ley Main tragedy in 1826 at Stargate in Gateshead saw 20 men and 18 boys, some as young as 10, killed as a re­sult of an un­der­ground ex­plo­sion.

A me­mo­rial stone to mark the dis­as­ter was placed in the nearby Holy Cross Church­yard in Ry­ton in 1993.

It con­tained an in­scrip­tion based on a Bible quote from Job 28:4 but had no de­tails of the dis­as­ter it­self and its vic­tims.

We re­ported last year how an ap­peal was launched by the Brighten Ry­ton Her­itage Group.

On Fri­day the me­mo­rial, which con­sists of a flower-dec­o­rated pit tub and me­mo­rial plaque iden­ti­fy­ing the names and ages of those killed and the sur­round­ing vil­lages from which they walked, was of­fi­cially un­veiled.

It is sited on Stargate Lane close to where the old pit head was lo­cated.

Peter Rodgers, sec­re­tary of the her­itage group, said last year it was an anom­aly that there was no mon­u­ment to the dis­as­ter which iden­ti­fies the names of those killed which, in some ways, makes it a “for­got­ten” tragedy.

“We want to hu­man­ise the me­mo­rial. To list the names and ages of all those who died,” he said then.

A num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in the area to­day are de­scen­dants of the vic­tims.

As the me­mo­rial was be­ing un­veiled, he said: “I hope they see it as a fit­ting trib­ute.”

Those who died in­cluded 11 peo­ple called Rob­son, while the two youngest boys, aged 10, who were killed were John Hall and Thomas Waugh. The old­est Peter Rodgers at 60 was Thomas Brown. Among those in­vited to at­tend were Blay­don MP Liz Twist, the May­oress of Gateshead, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of The Land of Oak and Iron, the NUM and the Rec­tor of the Holy Cross Church. Chil­dren from the local Crookhill School also sang at the event.

Alan Cum­mings from the Durham Min­ers As­so­ci­a­tion at the un­veil­ing of the 1826 Stargate Pit dis­as­ter Me­mo­rial near Ry­ton

Gateshead Mayor Jill Green

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