The first major coal mining disaster of the Victorian era took place 151 years ago in Northumberland.
The New Hartley Pit Disaster claimed the lives of over 200 men and boys. It decimated a community. It tugged at the heartstrings of the recently widowed Queen Victoria and it forced an act of Parliament improving mining safety.
That last point was the only good thing to come out of this avoidable tragedy. I wrote a poem in tribute to those affected by the disaster. The poem’s called History Lesson and was published last year in Still The Sea Rolls On a collection of writings commemorating the 150th anniversary of the tragedy.
On Saturday I will be performing this poem at the Hartley Disaster Memorial in St Alban’s churchyard in Earsdon as part of the following event:
The Pitman Poet of Percy Main. An event featuring new settings of local hero Joseph Skipsey’s poems by his great-great grandson, Chris Harrison plus poetry, songs and the Northumberland pipes.
The event runs from 11am to noon and will take place in church if it is raining.
Event organiser, Keith Armstrong is also coordinating other events to commemorate 110 years since the death of Joseph Skipsey. For more information please visit his blog http://keithyboyarmstrong.blogspot.co.uk/