IT WAS almost midnight on August 22, 1947, when tragedy struck a North Durham town, costing the lives of 22 men and shaking a community to its core.
The two dozen miners were underground in the “fourth north district”, between the Louisa Pit and the Morrison North Pit, in the area of Kyo bogs when a huge explosion of firedamp, most likely a pocket of methane gas, ripped through the pit workings.
Of the 24 men working the coal seam, 22 were killed, including two “Bevin Boys”.
The two pits were linked underground, so the men were from both collieries and had descended from both ends of the shaft.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the disaster, and remember the men lost that day, local historian Jack Hair and then vicar of St Aidan’s church, Annfield Plain, Revd. DE Jenkins, raised funds for a permanent memorial in the grounds of the church, which was dedicated with family members and descendants of the deceased present on August 23, 1997.
However, the memorial was placed under threat, when it was announced in February 2016 that St Aidan’s church was to close.
Stanley Town Council moved quickly to honour the men who died in 1947 and save the memorial. Following lengthy discussions with the church and with help from Mr Hair, whooriginally commissioned the stone, the Council is funding the relocation of the stone, which will now sit outside the Louisa Centre, near the site of the old Louisa Colliery.
Town Mayor Alex Clegg said: After almost two years of negotiations, we finally got the green light to relocate the stone, just in time for the 71st Anniversary of the disaster and it is fitting that now sits so close to where some of those hardworking men made their final journey underground.
“This disaster was an important part of our area’s mining history and it’s right that the men should be remembered.
“I’m delighted that we have not only been able to secure the future of the memorial for future generations but that we have been able to place it in a prominent location so that many more people will be able to see the memorial in the setting of the former site of the Louisa Colliery.”
Leader of Stanley Town Council, David Marshall, said: “Like most this part of County Durham, the town of Stanley was hewn from the coalface – our proud history inexorably linked to the coal mining industry.
“It is only right and proper that we continue to educate people about and pay tribute to the brave souls who gave their life down the pit. They worked for long hours in horrendous conditions for a modest income all to make sure there was food on the table for their families…we will remember them and make sure others do for generations to come.”
The Town Council is planning an event on August 23, the anniversary of the disaster to re-dedicate the memorial in it’s new setting.
Stanley Town Council is delighted to announce the dates for this year’s Summer Play in the Park Events. As always, all the rides and activities will be FREE so get the dates in your diary now.
The dates are:
Wed 1 Aug – View Lane Park
Sat 4 Aug – Oakies Park
Wed 8 Aug – South Moor Greenland School Playing Fields
Sat 18 Aug – Annfield Plain Park
Wed 22 Aug – Craghead Millennium Green
All events are from 10 am to 3 pm
A PAIR of crimefighters are clamping down on community anti-social behaviour in a North Durham town.
Two new neighbourhood wardens have been recruited to prowl the Stanley beat, working alongside their communities to improve the environment and help tackle minor disorder and vandalism.
The new full-time patrolmen are funded by Stanley Town Council, which is also funding essential equipment and training.
Kieron Rice and Dave Jarvis started their first shifts this week and were eased into the role by Paul Rutherford, one of Durham County Council’s community wardens.
Kieron said: “I couldn’t wait to get started. I think Stanley is a great town and there seems to be so much happening at the moment, with everyone pulling in the same direction.
“My aim is to quickly get to know people across the community and begin to build up trust in ourselves and the service. In doing that, we will learn about areas of concern, potential areas of anti-social behaviour and also involve ourselves in some of the proactive community projects happening all over Stanley.
“The more we can help improve Stanley, the better civic pride will be and the more pride we can instil, the easier our jobs will be. Every village and town has its issues with challenging elements, but if we can reduce their impact on other people, then our introduction will have been a success.”
The wardens will work closely with the Town Council as well as other community groups. It will also provide a link with Durham Police, which has backed the introduction of community wardens.
Leader of Stanley Town Council, Councillor David Marshall said: “Stanley will benefit from the arrival of Kieran and Dave, who will immerse themselves in the community and quickly learn about the projects that are making a real difference to their lives and also address some of their concerns.
“When the enhanced wardens service was cancelled in 2015, the quality of life for people in and around Stanley deteriorated. Almost overnight, there was an increase in dog fouling, more fly tipping and a rise in the amount of rubbish blowing around the streets. How can people be proud of where they live in that sort of environment?
“The people of Stanley wanted to see an improvement in their environment, so I’m delighted that we can start tackling that by bringing back a dedicated team of wardens and environmental caretakers that can really get stuck in to improving the environment for all of our communities.”
The wardens will also work alongside Stanley’s Environmental Caretakers, who, among other services, take a lead the town’s “In Bloom” entry and other civic pride programmes.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “This is an example of partnership work at its best, and demonstrates the commitment of Stanley Town Council and ourselves to ensuring Stanley is a safe and attractive place to live, work and visit.
“Neighbourhood wardens make a positive difference in towns and villages across County Durham, and Stanley Town Council’s decision to invest in an enhanced service demonstrates a proactive approach that should be applauded.”
Next Tuesday the Council holds its Annual Meeting. Each May, the Council elects a new Town Mayor to officiate at meetings and be the ‘face’ of the Council in the community. At the Annual Meeting the Council reviews its constitution and rules, signs off the annual accounts and decides when the Council will meet in the coming Civic Year.
The meeting will commence at 6.30 pm in the Civic Hall. The public are encouraged to attend.
The Agenda and papers for next week’s Projects Committee are linked below.
The meeting will be held at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 10th April at the Civic Hall. All meetings are open to the public. Items to be considered:
Advice Service Specification
Youth Theatre production for Armed Forces Day
Advice in County Durham Networking Event
Gertie Ayer from Annfield Plain received the British Empire Medal from Mrs Sue Snowdon, H.M. Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham yesterday at Annfield Plain Central Methodist Church in front of a large gathering of friends, family and well wishers. Local MP Kevan Jones nominated Gertie for the award in recognition of her 75 years of voluntary work in the community at Lee Hill Hospital, Shotley Bridge Hospital (for 40 years) and for the last 30 years visiting the elderly at Stonleigh Care Home, in addition to voluntary work preparing meals and running coffee mornings at the church, work she still does aged 95. An Annfield Plain resident all her life, Gertie truly deserves her recognition and all the members and staff of the Town Council congratulate her.
The Agenda and Background Papers for next week’s Ordinary Council Meeting are linked below. The meeting will be held at 6.30 pm at the Civic Hall. All meetings are open to the public. Please note: If you wish to ask a question at the meeting, it must be notified to the Clerk in advance of the meeting. The Clerk can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org
Business to be discussed at the meeting includes:
Member’s Initiative Fund – Details of the projects supported by Councillors in 2017/18
Events Specification – Tender details
Wardens SLA – Specification for enhanced wardens service
Civic Hall Hire charges
The Projects & Initiatives Committee will be considering the provision of grit bins, Stanley In Bloom and updates to outstanding projects. The meeting is at 6.30pm on Tuesday 13th March at the Civic Hall. All meetings are open to the public. The Full Council meeting postponed from 27th February will follow.
The agenda and supporting papers for the February Ordinary Council meeting are linked below. Business to be considered at the meeting includes:
Events Specification, War Memorial, Allotments and the Louisa Morrison disaster memorial
The meeting will be held at the Civic Hall and starts at 6.30pm. All Council meetings are open to the public