A PIT banner restoration group has received an unexpected gift.

The Bowburn Banner Group was formed last month to restore the village colliery's 1959 emblem and create a replacement banner.

The 1959 banner has been returned to the group from the NUM Colliery Officials and Staff Association offices, in Nottinghamshire, where it was taken after the pit closed in 1967.

Now the group has been presented with the remains of the colliery's 1919 banner, which bears the portrait of First World War nurse Edith Cavell, who was shot by German military authorities as a collaborator.

The design will be incorporated into the new banner.

The banner remnants were presented to the group by Arthur Moyes, author of The Banner Book, which he wrote in 1974.

The banner, which also features a portrait of miners' leader and MP John Wilson, as well as aerial views of the Miners' Gala and a miners' convalescent home, will be examined by a conservator to see what can be done with it.

It had been described as one of the most important banners in mining history and was thought to have been destroyed.

The cost of the project will be about £27,000 and the group is investigating what funding may be available.

Group secretary Mike Syer said he was delighted the 1919 banner had returned to Bowburn.

The group hopes both banners will be ready to be paraded at next year's Big Meeting.

A concert featuring the Reg Vardy Band, formerly the Ever Ready Band, to raise money for the project, will be held in Bowburn Community Centre, Durham Road, Bowburn, tomorrow, at 7pm.

Tickets cost £3 and are available by calling 0191-377 1491.