January 16th, 2022, marked the 160th anniversary of the New Hartley pit disaster. 204 men and boys lost their lives in a serious mining accident, which wiped out almost the whole male population of New Hartley village and resulted in changes to the law, which meant that all pits had to have 2 shafts to allow escape in such a catastrophe.

On Sunday, 16th, members of the local community and children from New Hartley First School, Seaton Sluice Middle School, Whytrig Middle School and Astley Community High School marched behind the Backworth Brass Band to the memorial garden, where there was a moving service and children sang a hymn in remembrance. This was followed by an event in the Memorial Hall, where there was a wonderful selection of art and poetry produced by New Hartley First School and Seaton Sluice Middle School; more music from Backworth Brass Band and Beeswing folk group; and a song called 'Widows of the Coal' performed by Seaton Sluice Middle School. 

This was an emotive event and one which highlighted the importance of remembering such tragedies and teaching our young people about an important part of their social history.

Mrs K McSparron