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First Tuesday: Maureen Taylor-Gooby, The birth of Billy Elliot land

6 November 2018 @ 19:00

I was born in Horden in East Durham and initially became interested in my own family history. I developed this to research the development of Easington, Horden and Blackhall Collieries which was published as “The Birth of Billy Elliot Land”. I have since written a history of the Burdon Family of Castle Eden who played an important part in the history of the area and the wider region. This has been published as “The Rowland Burdons, North Country Gentlefolk”.

Some may think that these villages had been mining communities for many, many generations, but in fact the life span of these collieries lasted only a human lifespan. Coal was first drawn from Easington pit in 1910, which lasted 83 years until it was the last of the three pits to close in 1993.

Pit sinking began in Horden in 1900 with the sinkers living in wooden huts. Once coal had been drawn houses were built and miners travelled from near and far to seek work in the pit. My family were amongst the many recorded in the 1911 census. By that time there were schools, shops and many more houses.

The villages rapidly became communities. There are accounts of strikes and their hardships, a riot in Horden when the colliery owned club was burned down, and accidents, especially when the pit was being sunk.

But the people of the village quickly established carnivals,sports, parks, child welfare clinics and aged miners homes themselves. The villages soon became vibrantcommunities with coal mines at their throbbing hearts.

This account is their early story.


6 November 2018


Old George Inn
Old George Yard
Newcastle, NE1 1EZ