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West Stanley Pit Explosion February 16th 1909

By Two Point Four Children on Feb 16, 09 11:32 PM

A Colliers Night Out, a celebration of the colliers of the Great Northern Coalfield in remembrance of the men, boys and ponies killed in the above is to be performed at the Black Bull Inn, Frosterley, Co Durham on Sunday February 15th 2009. Unfortunately by the time I read the leaflet I'd picked up I'd missed the performance...

We ended up in the Black Bull Inn and Coffee Shop, adjacent to Frosterley Railway because on Valentines Day the golf course was closed due to the snow. My other half couldn't play so we decided to go for a proper walk across the moors at Hill End. Son No 2 of course refused to come as he 'doesn't do walking.'

After struggling to walk in the heavy snow alongside the rippling river for an hour or so we headed back in the car over a bridge and came across the Black Bull Inn and Coffee Shop.

Walking into the Inn was like walking back in time. It was perfect. We sat in old wooden chairs by an ancient blackened fire range with a grandfather clock booming right behind us and a contented cat strolling across the stone flags from the scorching fire in one room to the equally enticing fire in the other.

I asked for coffee and this was served in a large cafetiere, together with a checked mug and real brown and white sugar lumps. A delicious smell of farm house cooking wafted over and we could hear the sound of potatoes being mashed in the background...

Apparently a few years ago Son No 2 had been there with his grandparents for a meal and had asked the lady behind the bar if they did pizzas. 'Oh no,' he was told, 'we only serve fresh food.' It certainly smelt wonderful.

What a setting for the performance of 'A Colliers Night Out' which was described in the leaflet as being performed in two Acts by Benny Graham, Johnny Handle, a founder member of the High Level Ranters and Dave and Anni Fentiman.

Who could imagine the horrors of what it must have been like after the explosion which happened at 3.45 in the afternoon of that Tuesday in February 1909... And what it must have been like on the surface as the hundreds of people that waited there suddenly heard the telephone ring from way down below...

The leaflet explains how only 30 miners survived the Burns Pit Disaster and 168 died. The victims were buried in huge trenches in the local churches and the men of Stanley went back to work. One widow received her dead husband's pay after the tragedy and this had been docked by half a shift for the time he failed to work...

If anyone did attend 'A Colliers Night Out' I'd love to hear how the evening went...

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