Friday, 10 July 2015

Mining the records

“The Kitchener’s Army Pit Lads proved themselves to be “born soldiers.”  What a great pity it is impossible to estimate how much the country owes to the miners for the ultimate victory, and the good hearted manner of it.”

Sergeant Charles Moss, 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.

Section from the agreement for 9th Bn, DLI to use Redhills Villas (D/DMA 7/1/1)
D/DMA 7/1/1 Section from the agreement for 9th Bn, DLI to use Redhills Villas
Saturday 11 July is the 131st Durham Miners’ Gala.  100 years ago the Gala did not take place because of the war.  In fact, it was halted for the 1915-1918 period of the war.  Large numbers of miners from the Durham coal fields enlisted in the army but many were also needed to keep up coal production – a vital part of the war effort.  This was not an easy balancing act and we want to look at the effects it had, not just on the county’s mining industry but also on the mining communities. 

We are just starting to dip into our various mining records to see what they contain relating to the First World War.  Whilst doing some work on the Durham Miners Association catalogue, one of our members of staff put on their Durham at War volunteer cap to flag up some documents.  One of these is the agreement between the Northern Command of the War Office and the Durham Miners Association to take temporary occupation of the Redhills Villas.  These were just beside the new Miners’ Hall which was opened in October 1915.
Durham Miners' Hall, Redhills (D/Cl 27/277/1858)
D/Cl 27/277/1858 Durham Miners' Hall, Redhills
Durham County Record Office will have a stall in the marquee at this year’s Miners’ Gala and a representative of Durham at War will be there for at least part of the day.  If you have an interesting story about mining in the county during the First World War, come along and tell us about it.

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