Hartley Disaster Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1354997
Date first listed:
19-Feb-1986
Date of most recent amendment:
10-Sep-2021
Statutory Address:
St Alban's churchyard, Earsdon, North Tyneside, NE25 9JY

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
St Alban's churchyard, Earsdon, North Tyneside, NE25 9JY

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
North Tyneside (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
NZ3204572560

Summary

Memorial, erected 1862.

Reasons for Designation

The Hartley Disaster Memorial of 1862 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a dignified classical memorial in the form of an obelisk upon a pedestal, fashioned of good-quality ashlar sandstone with carved detail.

Historic interest:

* it commemorates one of the first, and one of the worst large-scale mining disasters of England, in which 204 men and boys died, and which still resonates with the local and wider community; * the Hartley Mining Disaster prompted new legislation in mining safety that obliged colliery owners to sink two independent means of escape.

Group value:

* it benefits from a spatial group value with the listed Church of St Albans, in whose churchyard it is located, and also with the vicarage of St Albans and the church hall walls and piers.

History

On 16 January 1862 the North East's worst pit disaster occurred at Hartley Colliery when 204 men and boys lost their lives. The engine beam at Hester pit snapped and fell into the shaft, bringing with it large amounts of debris. The pit comprised a single shaft and did not have an alternative exit, and large numbers of miners were trapped underground. The disaster attracted huge public interest, with 20,000 people joining the families who waited at the surface for news in the days afterwards. A week later when bodies were found, it was discovered that most of the victims had died from the effects of poisonous gases released by the original collapse of the beam. It is said that 60,000 people took part in the funeral procession to Earsdon churchyard on 26 January. A total of £82,000 was collected for the 407 widows and dependants of the victims, and was considered such a great amount that £20,000 was able to be sent to other coalfields. The memorial to those who lost their lives was erected in Earsdon Churchyard, where some of the dead are buried.

The Hartley Disaster was one of the first large-scale mining disasters of Victorian times and led to improvements in mining practice. The coroner's inquest recommended that all collieries should have more than one shaft and that colliery engine beams should be of 'malleable iron instead of cast metal'. Legislation obliging colliery owners to sink two shafts, side by side, was rushed through parliament by the end of the year.

The 150th Anniversary of the disaster coincided with the 175th anniversary of the Church of St Albans, and two new stained-glass windows were commissioned from local artist Cate Watkinson, with the themes of Death and Resurrection, and installed in the church to commemorate the disaster. A newly composed piece of music by Martin Ellerby was also played in a concert by Grimethorpe Colliery band.

Details

Memorial, erected 1862.

MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial stands in St Alban's churchyard surrounded by ornamental iron railings. It comprises a tall corniced pedestal with cord moulding to the frieze, and an egg-and-dart cornice, which supports a tall faceted and tapering obelisk; the whole standing about 4.5m high. Inscriptions are in incised Roman letters painted black on the friezes of the pedestal.

The east face reads; ERECTED/ TO THE MEMORY OF THE 204 MINERS WHO LOST THEIR/ LIVES IN HARTLEY PIT, BY THE FATAL CATASTROPHE/ OF THE ENGINE BEAM BREAKING, 16th JANUARY 1862. The south face reads: BE NOT DECEIVED: GOD IS NOT MOCKED: FOR WHAT- SO EVER A MAN SOWETH. THAT HE SHALL ALSO REAP / (GALAT VI CHAP VII VERS). The north face reads: THEREFORE BE YE ALSO READY: FOR SUCH AN HOUR/ AS YE THINK NOT THE SON OF MAN COMETH. / MATTHEW XXIICHAP XLIV VERS/ BLESSED THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD/ REVN XIVCHAP X111 VERS/ 'IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH'.

Below the frieze, each face of the pedestal is inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives within paired, raised, round topped panels.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
303271
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, (1992), 261
Usherwood, P, Beach, J, Morris, C, Public Sculpture of North-East England, (2000), 55-56

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 21 Feb 2001
Reference: IOE01/03172/01
Rights: Copyright IoE Mrs J.H. Black. Source Historic England Archive
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