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Postcards tell story of proud mining heritage

The Amble sword-dancing team, circa 1923.
The Amble sword-dancing team, circa 1923.

A fascinating book which gives an insight into the life and times of Northumberland’s pits and their workers has been published.

Northumberland Collieries on old picture postcards has been produced by George Nairn, as part of the Yesterday’s Northumberland Series.

Broomhill Colliery Band outside the Grey's Arms Hotel at Red Row in 1906.

Broomhill Colliery Band outside the Grey's Arms Hotel at Red Row in 1906.

The book contains a selection of images featuring scenes from the 1800s and 1900s, with informative captions.

Among the collection is a photograph showing the Amble sword-dancing team from the 1920s.

This form of two-handled sword dance was popular with Northumberland and Durham miners and was based around Amble, Bedlington, Earsdon, Monkseaton, Newbiggin, Prudhoe, Mickley, Walbottle and Westerhope.

Meanwhile, a picture of Shilbottle Colliery is accompanied by the caption: ‘Shilbottle coals were acknowledged to be the best house coals produced for durability, heat and freedom from ash.’

Shilbottle colliery, bought from Shilbottle Coal Co Ltd in 1917 by the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Shilbottle colliery, bought from Shilbottle Coal Co Ltd in 1917 by the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

Another image shows the Broomhill Colliery Band outside the Grey’s Arms Hotel at Red Row in 1906.

The band featured in competitions from the 1890s and were regulars at the Northumberland Miners’ Gala.

Another fascinating picture shows a pit pony with its tub and admirers after winning first prize in a show near Newbiggin.

Other postcards to feature include a rare temporary postmark cancellation from Cramlington Colliery, miners at Woodhorn presenting a fashion line-up, Edwardian style, with one smoking a clay pipe, and an artist’s impression of the Hartley pit disaster from an engraving depicting one of the worst-ever mining accidents, in which 204 men and boys, and 43 ponies, were killed.

Colliers being loaded at Broomhill staithes.

Colliers being loaded at Broomhill staithes.

The book (ISBN 978 1 905408 57 3) is designed and published by Reflections of a Bygone Age, Keyworth, Nottingham. It is priced £4.95 and is available from Alnwick Post Office or JR Soulsby & Sons, in Rothbury, or from www.post cardcollecting.co.uk or by calling 0115 937 4079.