In honour of the 40th anniversary of the miners strike Reporter Darcie Rawlings decided to take a tour of the region, visiting seven of the North East's many iconic mining sculptures.

The Northern Echo:

Travelling around the North East from Stockton to Seaham, here is a map to pinpoint the 7 remarkable miners monuments I visited. 

1. 'The Brothers' in Seaham

The first stop along my miner’s sculpture tour was 'The Brothers' mining sculpture in Seaham. Created by Brian Brown, who previously worked at Silksworth pit, 'The Brothers' was unveiled in 2011.

The Northern Echo: 'The Brothers' in Seaham

This monument celebrates Seaham's mining heritage, the silhouettes of three miners represent the three mines of Seaham: Seaham Colliery, Dawdon Colliery and Vane Tempest.

I wasn’t fully sure where to look for this sculpture but asking the receptionist at Seaham Library, I was told head to Bells Fish and Chips where the sculpture sits across the road.

After following the accurate directions, I was opposite 'The Brothers' which is atmospherically located beside Seaham Seafront.

A powerful start to my mining monument journey, for me this sculpture not only highlights the three mines in the area but it represents the brotherhood and friendship associated with mining history.

2. 'Marra' in Horden

This nine-foot steel sculpture, ‘Marra’ is located in Horden’s perfectly maintained Welfare Park in County Durham.

The Northern Echo: 'Marra' in Horden

Horden Parish Council purchased the statue for £19,000 - it features a miner with his heart ripped out, and was made by celebrated steel sculptor Ray Lonsdale.

Unveiled in 2015, ‘Marra’ is intended to illustrate the demise of mining communities, particularly the demise of one of the biggest mines in the country, which was Horden Colliery.

The figure stands tired and defeated but is still tall and strong, an important representation of the miners who dedicated so much to the industry.

Also known as "I Ain't Gonna Work On Maggie's Farm No More" about Margaret Thatcher, Ray Lonsdale captures a potent acknowledgment of the strong feelings in the region.

3. 'The Fishburn Miner' in Fishburn

The Fishburn Miners’ Memorial is a dramatic reminder of the village’s links to its industrial past.

The Northern Echo: 'The Fishburn Miner' in Fishburn

Situated on Fishburn’s Front Street in Stockton, the sculpture, by Northumberland artist Keith Maddison, is of a life-size bronze miner encased in blocks of sandstone, emerging from a shaft.

Unveiled in July 2003, this sculpture felt different from the ones I had visited so far, drastically portraying the danger of the industry and the fears of many of the young boys and men who had to endure injuries, adverse health issues and even death.

'The Fishburn Miner' is a poignant and eerie reminder of Fishburn’s history captured in time. 

4. 'The Last Shift' in Wheatley Hill

Located in Wheatley Hill Cemetery, in East Durham, ‘The Last Shift’, by artist Ray Lonsdale was revealed for the first time in 2018.

The Northern Echo: 'The Last Shift' in Wheatley Hill

The creation of the statue is based on a photograph of local miner Tom Davies in his pit clothes.

This artwork was the culmination of four years of hard work to raise more than £22,500 to commission the figure.

Written ’50 jobs lost’ and ’50 years without our pit’ highlights the great loss the community of Wheatley Hill has faced.

Surrounded by the beautiful grounds of the cemetery this is a peaceful spot with seating areas perfect for contemplation and reflection of the sculpture and the community’s history.

5. ‘Into the Depths’ in Quarrington Hill

Standing as a large triangular sculpture, the £25,000 artwork was made from stone and wood by Teesdale-based sculptor Phil Townsend.

The Northern Echo: ‘Into the Depths’ in Quarrington Hill

Erected in 2016 the sculpture is located opposite the community centre on the Front Street of Quarrington Hill in County Durham, depicting miners at work.

An educational sculpture detailing information about the pit and what it was like to work there, this sculpture is truly a piece of heritage artwork.

Tracing my fingers with the stone, etched with real tales of strife and struggle, ‘Into the Depths’ is a brilliant memorial for learning and reflection. 

6. Miners Memorial in Langley Park

The miners' memorial in Langley Park is 10ft statue featuring a traditional mining lamp in its chest and is surrounded by pit wheels.

The Northern Echo: The miners memorial in Langley Park

The newest sculpture in this mining monument tour was unveiled in 2019 and was designed by Sunderland-based artist Mark Burns Cassell, working with metal fabricator and artist Ron Lawson.

Cassell based some of the features of this statue on his own grandfather, Jack Malone, who worked at Langley Park's colliery for decades.

Sitting in the heart of Langley Park in County Durham, this sculpture honours the miners who worked at the pit which closed in 1975.

7. 'Old King Coal' in Chester-Le-Street

Finally, I visited the oldest sculpture on this tour 'Old King Coal' in Chester-Le-Street, County Durham. 

The Northern Echo: 'Old King Coal' in Chester-le-Street

Designed by David Kemp, ‘Old King Coal’ was created to celebrate the industrial history of the region and is built using stone from the Consett railway station bridge and bricks from old kilns.

Strikingly ‘Old King Coal’ was completed on 15 October 1992, which was coincidentally the day an announcement was made of the closure of the last pits in Durham.

Unfortunately, I managed to get caught up in a storm visiting this sculpture but on a nicer day you can cycle or walk along the Sustrans C2C route to find ‘Old King Coal’.

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We certainly haven’t included all of the brilliant mining sculptures that have been erected in the North East in this tour.

We are so lucky to have so many in the region, it would take longer than a day of visits to see them all.

However, all seven of these North East’s iconic mining sculptures reflect on the North Easts mining past and provide a flavour of some of the most iconic creations in the region in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the miners’ strike.