A community picnic and programme of entertainment in Usworth Park on Saturday 3rd August will celebrate Washington’s mining heritage.

The Miners’ Picnic will mark the 45th anniversary of the closure of Usworth Colliery. The mine, which opened in 1845, had 1,785 employees at its peak in 1921.

During its 129-year history, Usworth Colliery provided a living for tens of thousands of miners and their families.

The Miners’ Picnic will take place between 1.00 and 4.00 pm. Families are invited to bring along their own picnics and to enjoy an afternoon of activities and entertainment. The event will be taking place near Manor View East.

The Miners’ Picnic will include the following features:

  • An exhibition of miners’ banners from local pits, including Usworth
  • Musical entertainment, courtesy of the NSUWT Concert Band and Washington’s WI Ukulele Group
  • Costumed characters and artefacts from mining life, courtesy of the Time Bandits history re-enactment group
  • Traditional mining songs from the historian and folksinger Keith Gregson
  • Kids’ craft activities, provided by the Sunderland Museum Service

In addition to the Miners’ Picnic, there will be an Exhibition of Mining Photographs. This exhibition – put on with the help of Washington History Society, Bowes Railway and members of the local community – will feature images showing the mining heritage of Usworth and the wider Washington Area.

The Exhibition of Mining Photographs will be hosted at the Washington Millennium Centre, Concord, from Monday 29th July to Saturday 4th August.

Also at the Washington Millennium Centre, there will be an Object Handling and Information Session, courtesy of Tyne and Wear Archives. The session – which will take place on Monday 29th July from 10.00 am to noon – is free and all are welcome.

All of the above events are being put on to remember and celebrate the industrial and cultural history of coal mining in the Washington Area.

Cllr John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture, said, “The Usworth community is very rightly proud of its coal mining heritage, and this event is being held to remind us all of when coal mining was indeed the centre of everyone’s life in the local community.”

“Where better to stage a Miners’ Picnic than the Colliery Welfare Park, giving families an opportunity to come together and learn more about Washington’s mining heritage, and to share the brave and often tragic stories of those who lost their lives whilst trying to earn a living for their families.”

“We want to acknowledge these men and their families and give the community the opportunity to come together and bring a picnic on what we hope will be a beautiful summer’s day.”

To learn more, please go to www.sunderland.gov.uk/miners-picnic or phone 0191 561 8413.

Please note that no parking is available at Usworth Park and only limited street parking is available nearby. People attending the picnic are urged to come by public transport if possible.

(Featured image courtesy of WordRidden, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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