Group celebrates new books with exhibition
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
FOUR new books covering Evenwood’s part in the world wars, its coal-mining heritage and how it coped during the successive Covid lockdowns will be on view during a unique exhibition this month.
The books were produced by Evenwood and District History Society this year.
Two of the books on how the village commemorated VE day last year and how life continued through the pandemic were produced thanks to a grant from former county councillor Heather Smith.
The society took on the tough task of collecting material throughout the pandemic to ensure generations for years to come would know what life was like during an extraordinary time.
Jackie Dodds said: “We have personal accounts of people, the Government information that was given out and Boris’ [Johnson] original letter to people.
“We have testimonials from a nurse who was infected with Covid and from young people about home schooling.
“We have a letter from a little girl to her nana about how much she misses her.
“This is an important year in the history of the village. It is amazing just how quiet the place was.”
The group captured images such as Evenwood Runners keeping up with exercises, how the cricket club re-emerged and some of the interesting activities, such as a pebble art challenge, that took place.
Mrs Dodds, who started the pebble challenge, said: “It was just something I put on the Evenwood Facebook page for people to do their own pebbles and when out on a walk to place them for others to find. The knock-on effect was great.”
Also collected were newspaper articles featuring such amazing feats as cater Kimberley Clark who cooked up 10,000 meals for key workers and vulnerable people during the lockdown.
An amazing aerial photograph by drone operator Liam Dobinson captured a perfect moment of a double rainbow over Evenwood during the lockdown, which is also featured.
Equally important, the society last month completed a two-volume tome about the village’s coal mining past, research of which was started by Kevin Richardson when the last coke oven closed in 1984.
More than 400 pages of photographs and text make up the work, a copy of which is to be given to the Durham Mining Museum at Spennymoor. The books, entitled History of Coal Mining and Coke Production in the Evenwood Area, records a number of interesting pieces including the Tate family who were coal merchants in the village.
Mr Richardson said: “Everyone prior to 1918 worked in the pits or the coke works.”
However, production declined during the First World War and the subsequent depression. The society has uncovered that at least four coal miners from the village were killed in action during The Great War after they were recruited to tunnel under the enemy trenches.
The also found at least 50 people who died in accidents in the pits themselves.