Wallsend pit disaster to be commemorated 200 years on

A pit disaster that devastated a North Tyneside community is to be commemorated on its 200th anniversary.

The Wallsend Colliery Disaster claimed the lives of 52 men and boys when an explosion ripped through the colliery on October 23 1821. 

The blast was said to have ‘shook the ground like an earthquake and made furniture dance in neighbouring houses’.

The victims were between the ages of five and 77 and only four workers survived.  

To commemorate the disaster, North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, and MP Mary Glindon will unveil a plaque as part of a memorial service at St Peter’s Church, Wallsend, where 46 of the victims are buried.

They will be joined for the unveiling on Saturday 23 October by local councillors, Rev Michael Vine, and Ken Hutchinson, Chair of Wallsend Local History, who will give a talk on the disaster.

The Elected Mayor said: “The passage of time may have softened the grief and the sadness of this tragedy, but this had a devastating impact on the community, and we felt it was important to come together and remember the lives lost on that terrible day.

“The men and boys who worked down the pit worked long-hours in a hazardous environment. The working conditions are unimaginable for us today, and the death toll is even more shocking because of the very young age of some of the victims.

“This memorial will serve as a reminder to future generations about the lives that were lost and our industrial heritage in North Tyneside. My thanks to all who have supported this project.”

Ken Hutchinson, Chair of Wallsend Local History, and the author of a book on the disaster, said: “Sadly there were a lot of mining disasters at this time and others such as Felling (92 killed in 1812) and Heaton in 1815 (75 Killed) got a lot of publicity and this disaster was largely overlooked.”

The main part of the event is open to the public. Guests are invited to gather at the church at 10am and then proceed to the churchyard for a brief talk, prayers, and the unveiling at 10.35am.