Exhibition to focus on mining and railway heritage of the Gaunless valley
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A REFURBISHED miner’s banner and a model of the Haggerleases railway line are just two of the major attractions that will form part of a Gaunless Valley history group’s exhibition.
Mining and railways is the theme of the Gaunless Valley History Trust’s display, which will be held at Butterknowle Village Hall on Saturday, August 18, and Sunday, August 19.
The event will also feature photographs of the heyday of mining in Butterknowle and the surrounding area.
Trust chairwoman Jeanette Newell said the group was formed in 1987 and has been collecting items from the area every since.
She added: “Basically we asked people if they had any old photographs so we could copy them.
“It was before the age of scanners and digital, so we had to take photographs of their photographs and make prints. From that we put together an exhibition in 1987 and we filled this hall.”
The group also filled Woodland and Copley village halls in the weeks after.
Later, much of what the trust had collected was used as a permanent exhibition at the Gaunless Valley Visitor Centre.
Trust member Fred Aitken said: “It is a shame the visitor centre is gone. This is why we need to do exhibitions like this.”
Last year more than 300 people visited Butterknowle Village Hall when an exhibition was held of images produced by local photographer Bill Daiken. His family had gifted his collection to the group after his death.
More than 100 prints were ordered during the exhibition by people who identified family members in the photographs or simply wanted a copy.
The latest exhibition will feature the model of the Haggerleases line that was part of the display at the visitor centre as well as the village’s miner’s banner, which has been restored by Beamish Museum.
Trust member Raymond Kellett said the banner was discovered in the attic of the Royal Oak pub some years ago and was taken to Beamish for safe-keeping.
Mr Kellett’s family has been in the area for generations and the son of his great uncle, who was the pub landlord at the time, died at age 13 while working on the mines as a driver.
Another feature of the exhibition is a map of the area dating back to 1896, which has dots and circles to show where all of the Gaunless Valley coal mines were.
Mr Aitken said: “They are like pimples on a teenager's face. They are absolutely everywhere. It almost beggars belief.”
Among the photographs that will go on display is an image of The Slack in 1898 and another of Woodland Brass Band when they performed at the Durham Miners Gala in 1924.
The exhibition runs from 11am to 4pm each day, with a slide show presentation at 2.30pm. Admission is free but people are welcome to make a donation to the trust.
People can also order prints of the photographs that are on display.