Colliery Disaster memorial, 1871, stonemason W Robson of Seaham. Minimal Gothic Revival style.
Reasons for Designation
The Seaham Colliery Disaster Memorial, of 1871 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* a tall and attractive Gothic revival design in the form of a tapering, octagonal spirelet with an enriched cross-head;
* fashioned by a local stone mason, it displays good-quality materials and craftsmanship, and forms a poignant landmark along with the 1880 Seaham and Rainton colliery disaster memorial.
* it commemorates a Durham coalfield mining disaster in 1871 in which 26 men and boys died and stands as a tangible expression of the hazards inherent in England's later-C19 coal mining industry.
* it benefits from a spatial group value with the listed Christ Church and a First and Second World War memorial, and it benefits from a spatial and historic group value with the Seaham and Rainton Colliery disaster memorial of 1881.
The Seaham Collieries suffered three major explosions within three months of starting coal production. The second of these occurred at 11.30pm on Wednesday 25 October 1871, when 26 men and boys were killed. According to one of the survivors, Mr Hutchinson, this was the exact minute that he and his son had fired a shot within the mine. Four of the dead were brought to the surface immediately, but it was a further two months before the remaining 22 bodies could be recovered. In the meantime, and to the dismay of some, coal production continued. The inquest heard that 26 had lost their lives 'accidentally from an explosion caused by an outburst of gas'. No recommendations were made about the practice of shot-firing. Nine years later in 1880, the firing of shot in the same pit caused an explosion that killed 164 men.
The memorial to the dead was fashioned by stonemason W Robson of Seaham and erected after money was raised from fellow workers.
Colliery disaster memorial, 1871, stonemason W Robson of Seaham. Minimal Gothic Revival style.
DESCRIPTION: situated immediately outside Christ Church within a large walled enclosure, along with the 1880 Seaham and Rainton Colliery Disaster memorial. It is a two-stage monument about 5.5 metres high. The lower stage comprises a slightly tapering, square stone pedestal on a moulded base, with a cable-moulded, low-pitched pyramidal cap. The upper stage comprises an enriched cross raised above a tapering, octagonal spirelet with decorated collar. A recessed panel on the east face of the pedestal has the inscription in incised black letters:
THIS MONUMENT IS/ ERECTED BY THE/ CONTRIBUTIONS OF/ THEIR FELLOW WORK/ MEN AND OTHERS/ IN LOVING MEMORY OF/ TWENTY-SIX MEN AND BOYS WHO WERE KILLED/ BY AN EXPLOSION AT/ SEAHAM COLLIERY, / OCTOBER 25TH 1871/ AND WHOSE NAMES/ ARE INSCRIBED HEREIN.
The names and ages of the dead are inscribed on the north, south and west faces of the pedestal.