The Spinney Commemorations 2nd May 2015 Afternoon.


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Les Turnbull


Cragside Primary Singers


The Spinney                                      Planting Snowdrops                                Inside Woodlands

2nd May Evening Concert: St Teresa’s Church Hall


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John Handle sings ‘Under the Fields of Heaton’


Heaton Voices

Remembrance Service in St Teresa’s  Church, 3rd May


Comments from the congregation:

Very interesting and informative, good to remember.

A very enjoyable and informative evening with a
good mix of dialogue, music, singing and dancing,
Thanks to all involved.

It was a very interesting service and good to find out
more about the mining tragedy. Choir was excellent.

This was a very moving service, you never always
know what happens under your feet where you live.

The service brought the event to life in the human
stories. How right that we should remember these
events in the history of our locality.

The evening was excellent. It was informative,
interesting and moving, and a really fitting tribute
to the 75 who lost their lives.

An interesting and moving service – great signing,
wonderful dance and a fascinating insight into the
history of Heaton.

Backworth Colliery Band

Service of Remembrance This took place at 6pm Sunday 3rd May St Teresa’s Catholic Church

On the 200th Anniversary of the Heaton Main Colliery Disaster

Pre-service: Backworth Colliery Band

 Welcome:  Father Michael

Hymn All:  ‘Lead Kindly Light’. Acc. by Backworth Brass Band

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’ encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Should’st lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

John Henry Newman (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890)


‘The Last Shift’: read by Tony Neilson

May Day was over & the great festival of Spring had passed.
Tuesday, the second, was just another ordinary day.
The sun had set and, by late evening,
Heaton’s farming community was at rest.
Only the mine disturbed the silence.
In the darkness after midnight,
Numerous figures thread their way through the blackened fields,
Marshalled to their workplaces by the beat of the great engine,
The pulse of the colliery.
To the outsider the mine is an awesome place,
Full of magical sights and sounds,
Another world,gripping the imagination.
Small fires light up the pithead
And the acrid smell of burning coal pervades the air.
The noise, the drifting smoke and the flickering lights
Add to the mystery.
The rhythmic power of the massive engine is compelling.
The deafening thuds and hissings command attention.
Amid this inferno,
Men and boys exchange banter,
While they wait to be lowered, in wicker baskets,
Down into their underworld.
All are unaware of the impending disaster,
And the acts of heroism,
Which ordinary men would soon perform.
Most will not escape
Before torrents of water overpower the great engine
And destroy the mine.
Summer will pass,
And the ice of winter grip the ground,
Before their bodies are found.
Men and boys will be returned, lifeless,
Through frozen fields, now white with snow,
To their final resting places.
This was their last shift. Les Turnbull 2015


Opening Prayer

Les Turnbull: The story of the disaster

Johnny Handle  ‘Under the Fields of Heaton’

Scriptures: Book of Wisdom, Chapter 3 verses 1 – 6  & 9

Gospel of John, Chapter 14 verses 1- 6

Homily  Father Michael

Backworth Colliery Band  – ‘The Miners’ Hymn’: Gresford.

You are invited to join the procession, bringing

75 candles, from the back of church to the front.

Bidding Prayers

Gifts of Snowdrop bulbs to the churches: Tessa Green

St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School Resurrection Dance

‘May You See Diamonds’ – Heaton Voices

May you see Diamonds in the darkness of the night
And may you shine among us in every earthly eye.
May you hear Angels in the Darkness of the night
And may you sing among us in every earthly choir.


On the morning of Wednesday 3rd May 1815, the worst disaster in the history of Newcastle took place in Heaton near the site of St. Teresa’s Church on Heaton Road, when men working in Heaton Main Colliery broke into the abandoned workings of Heaton Banks Colliery. The influx of water cut off their escape route and the pumping technology of the day was unable to drain the mine before their air supply ran out. A rescue was initially attempted from an old pit near the windmill in Heaton Park but this was thwarted when the pit collapsed. A second attempt was made from the Avenue Pit in Byker, which was situated where the High Main pub is today. This was also a failure. It is likely that the 75 men and boys died within a few days of the accident but the first body was not recovered until 6th January 1816 when the water had been reduced sufficiently to allow access. The final bodies were not recovered until 6th March. Most of the men were buried at St. Peters Church in Wallsend.

Both these collieries in Heaton were major enterprises of international significance using the most advanced technology of their day. The greatest concentration of steam power in the world was to be found in the Ouseburn Valley in the early eighteenth century; and at the beginning of the nineteenth century Heaton played a significant role in the development of the steam locomotive. These enterprises brought considerable wealth not only to the royalty owners and the mining partnerships but also to the workforce, who were widely regarded as being amongst the most prosperous sections of the working classes. Several of the mining families employed servants. It is right that we remember the bicentenary of this tragedy; but we should not forget the great achievements of the men who made the name of Newcastle synonymous with coal throughout the world.    Les Turnbull.