Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Pit May Be Gone, but the Men Who Died in It 60 Years Ago Will Never Be Forgotten; 60th Anniversary of Tragedy Marked

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Pit May Be Gone, but the Men Who Died in It 60 Years Ago Will Never Be Forgotten; 60th Anniversary of Tragedy Marked

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

ACOMMUNITY turned back the clock yesterday to honour 83 men who lost their lives in one of Britain's worst ever pit disasters.

Hundreds of people turned out in Easington Colliery, County Durham, to pay tribute to the 81 miners and two rescue workers who perished in a massive explosion 900 feet underground at the Duck Bill Seam 60 years ago yesterday.

Easington Colliery Brass Band led a parade bearing the colliery banner from the site of the mine entrance - now a grassy mound overlooking the North Sea - up the town's main street past boarded-up pubs, bookmakers, fast food takeaways, a tattoo parlour and numerous terraced houses with To Let signs in 1

There a service was conducted by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Rev Mark Bryant, and Easington vicar the Rev Chris Pearson to a packed congregation inside the church.

Outside in the church driveway overlooking an allotment burly, shaven headed men unable to get inside solemnly followed the service sheet.

Shirley Robinson, who was a baby when her father Joe Lippeatt was killed in the explosion, read a moving poem written by her mother Margaret, now 93, earlier this year.

Margaret was too frail to attend the service but had written the poem intending it to be read out there.

Many of those present were able to remember the disaster.

They included Cyril Peacock, who was a 15-year-old band member in 1951.

"I remember the band playing at about 50 funerals in a week and a half," he said. "Then the next week we played at a service for the 11 Catholics who died in the explosion. My father Cyril was band leader at the time. I am still known as Cyril Peacock junior." A police escort followed the parade to the church.

"We haven't seen you since 1984," one retired miner joked with an officer, a reference to the bitter fighting between police and pickets on the streets of Easington during the miners' strike.

Alan Napier, former leader of the district council and now deputy leader of Durham County Council, said the turn-out showed that the 83 men who died are by no means forgotten. …

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