AFTER almost a century, a complete record of where each one of the 168 men and boys who died in the North-East's worst ever peacetime disaster can be recorded for posterity.

Only the grave of Thomas Killingback, victim of the 1909 West Stanley Burns Pit explosion, remained unaccounted for after a year of trawling through archives.

But when his family, still living the North-East, read that his was the only name outstanding, they contacted The Advertiser and eventually, the mystery was solved.

The Advertiser began a campaign in February last year to find out who was buried in the unmarked trenches behind St Andrew's Church in Stanley and then mark those graves with a simple tribute.

The first part of that campaign is completed and we know that 54 men and boys were buried in the unmarked burial trenches and who they were. Now we hope to raise thousands of pounds to mark those graves.

Joan Brack, of Fairfield, Stockton, contacted the paper to say that Thomas Killingback, who was aged 25 or 26 according to different sources, was her great uncle. She wrote to a relative in Northamptonshire to find out where he was buried and received the reply that he was laid to rest in East Gateshead.

Former pitman Bob Drake, of Stanley, who uncovered a hidden interment sheet and trawled cemeteries across the North-East to find out where each of the men and boys was buried, checked out the records in Newcastle and they confirmed he was buried at East Gateshead Cemetery.

Mrs Black said: "All of us in the family have known about Thomas but, after my parents died, I was worried we might have lost where he was buried. I could not believe it when I read in the newspaper his was the only outstanding name. I am just glad we could help."

The names and final resting places of each of the 168 men and boys who died will take pride of place at a fundraising exhibition at The Lamplight Arts Centre in Stanley, from Friday, February 14, to Sunday, February 16. Entry costs £1.

* To help in the campaign call Chris Webber on (01642) 513346 from Monday.

To contribute directly, send your cheques to The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF. Cheques should be made payable to The Northern Echo's Stanley Pit Disaster Memorial Appeal.

To read the story of how Mr Drake managed to track down the names against all the odds, visit our website on www.thisisthenorth