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UK: 15 Years Since Northumberland's Last Mine Closed, Ellington Still Feels Its Loss

 

 

By Hannah Graham

June 8, 2020
- Coal hasn't been dug out of the ground at Ellington, Northumberland in the UK for just over 15 years - but it's still very much a mining village.

Opened in 1909, Ellington Colliery was once at the very heart of life for the people of Ellington and the surrounding villages of Lynemouth and Linton.

The last operating deep mine of the Great North Coalfield, its end came in February 2005, when water catastrophically burst out from the coal face of a new development in the mine that should have assured at least another five years of life for the pit.

 

Quickest million tonnes produced, 1983, from the DVD, Remembering The Past: Ellington Colliery

Photo: Six Townships History Group

Soon, the site of the former pit could be home to up to 400 new houses - but for those who lived in Ellington when the mine was still operating, the site's former use won't soon be forgotten.

Councillor Liz Dunn lives in Lynemouth, close to the ex-colliery, and the area she represents covers Ellington and a number of the surrounding villages.

She remembers the colliery well, as her husband used to work there, and says the area has still not fully recovered from its closure.

Once a major employer, with a workforce of over 2,000 at the time of the 1984 miners' strike, just 340 jobs were lost in 2005 when it closed.

 

Underground at Ellington in the 1980s, from the DVD, Remembering The Past: Ellington Colliery

Photo: Six Townships History Group

Coun Dunn said: "It was a way of for most people in the surrounding villages. I think we still feel the impact of it closing.

"We've still got the power station at Lynemouth, which has about 150 employees, but we are still feeling the impact of losing that industry."

Pictures show the scale of the mine when it was operational. Some of the Coal Board land has been regenerated through what Coun Dunn says was a "marvellous" community project on behalf of Ellington Juniors football club, which will provide much-needed sports and social facilities for the area.

With new homes on the way, the councillor believes what's really needed to rejuvenate the villages is improved public transport, allowing people to commute to work further afield.

She said: "Mining was a way of life, and when it came to an end that was a really hard thing for some people to take.

"While there's been some regeneration in the area I still don't think the ward as a whole has recovered.

"The rates of deprivation in the ward are still high - from 2016 to 2019 we've actually moved down in the indices of deprivation, we have a lot of children on free school meals, for example. We've got a long way to go, and better transport between the villages and out of the area is one thing that would help."

 

Stock yard at Ellington Colliery, 1964, from the DVD, Remembering The Past: Ellington Colliery

Photo: Six Townships History Group

One thing that hasn't been lost, however, is the community of the colliery - as the ongoing pandemic has proven.

Coun Dunn added: "One thing I have to say, and it's been especially obviously with the coronavirus, is there's still this sense of community which prevailed when the pit was open and is still there.

"There's a really strong contingent of villagers who have been doing shopping, helping out people who need it."