Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mining Art Gallery opens at Aukland Castle

Setting A Prop by Bob Olley

A new Gallery of Mining Art has opened at Aukland Castle in Co Durham, giving a permanent home for the renowned Gemini Collection of Mining Art, which includes more than 420 works by prominent local artists such as Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish.

The site will help visitors to understand what it felt like to work in the coalmines and shed light on why some miners felt it necessary to paint the dark, clamorous, claustrophobic and arcane world, otherwise denied to the gaze of those above ground.

As well as preserving a vital aspect of coalfield heritage for future study and appreciation, the Mining Art Gallery will also offer a wide range of opportunities to explore the history of mining and the impact it had, not just on those who worked there, but on the County Durham community as a whole.

The Auckland Project is currently developing a programme of educational activities and community events to help the region’s residents engage with this heritage and have offered a number of volunteering opportunities within the gallery when it opens on 21 October.

Murals Commemorating the 1976 Grunwick Strike

NELH usually focus on North East events and history, but Grunwick was a key moment in British Labour History. In 1976, six workers walked out of Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in Willesden and ignited an historic two-year dispute which united thousands to demand better rights for poorly treated workers.

Two murals to commemorate the event have been unveiled in Willisden, the site of the dispute.

More information on the Grunwick Strike at the Grunwick 40 site.

New Video: Thomas Spence in London’ (1750 -1814)

Keith Armstrong has made a five minute video, Thomas Spence in London’ (1750 -1814) which includes renditions of two of his polemics, ‘The Hive of Liberty’ and ‘Pigs Meat’, the latter including the delightful lines, ‘Pigs meat, pigs meat / We piss on the elite’.

Those of a nervous disposition or members of the ruling class should not watch it.

North East History, Volume 48, 2017, Now Available

  • Fifty Years of the North East Labour History Society
  • Picketing, Photography and Memory: Easington 1984-85
  • Jack Trevena: WEA District Secretary and Conscientious Objector
  • The Bagnalls of Ouseburn: Watermen, Publican, and Sporting Hero
  • Trade Unionism and Methodism
  • Rose Lumsden, a Sunderland Nurse in the Great War
  • Gender and Social Transformation in the 1970s Community Development Projects
  • Commemorative Plaques and Monuments, some recent examples
  • Davey Hopper 1943 – 2016. A Personal Appreciation




Leanne Smith wins 2017 Sid Chaplin Prize

Leanne Smith has been awarded the annual Sid Chaplin Memorial Prize for the best undergraduate dissertation on North East history. Leanne, who graduated from the University of Sunderland this summer with a First Class degree, chose as her subject a little known, almost forgotten aspect of social history.

Leanne’s dissertation, ‘The Struggle over Female Labour in the Durham Coalfield, 1914-1918’, has unearthed original research into how the Durham Mining Association (DMA) resisted pressure from colliery owners and the government to accept the introduction of female labour during the First World War.

“At the time it was claimed that the DMA’s refusal to employ women miners was based on concerns over the undercutting of wages,” say Leanne. “But in contrast two of the country’s largest labour concerns, The Amalgamated Society of Engineers and the Clyde Workers Committee, reacted very differently.  They negotiated to protect men’s position and wages within their industry. They accepted women into their very traditional industry.”

“My research shows that the Durham Mining Association resisted reforms, because they believed it was necessary to continue the status quo. The DMA were a very conservative body, who believed that a sexual division of labour was essential to coal mining communities such as the Durham coalfield.”

“Women contributed not just domestically. It was women who built the Durham mining community, who held together the family unit and brought stability that made it possible for the coal mining industry to exist – and made equality impossible in the minds of the Durham Mining Association.”

Sixty Personal Histories of North East People Now Available on this Website

The North East Labour History Society is pleased to announce that it has published transcripts of the personal memories of sixty people from the North East. You can find these on our website at:

Do take a look and tell us what you think. If you have transcripts or notes from interviews with people who have been involved in the labour  movement in the North East we would be delighted to provide space for them on our site ().