Funding boost for initiative

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

An environmental organisation has secured Heritage Lottery Fund support for a floral miners’ memorial project that will operate in three Northumberland locations.

Groundwork North East and Cumbria will be working with people from Pegswood, Ashington and Prudhoe to research family histories and create meadows as living tributes to miners involved in the First World War effort.

The initiative began in early spring, with some early wildflower seed sowing, and it will progress with a series of activities to explore the themes of the project.

Those also involved include the North East War Memorial Project, the Wansbeck and District Branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society, local history societies and the Friends of Community Woods groups in Pegswood, Ashington and Prudhoe.

The reclaimed pits in these areas have become wildlife havens and Groundwork North East and Cumbria has been working with the local volunteer groups weekly to enhance these woodland sites.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “We know there are some stories to find as some miners stayed to mine because it was a reserved occupation, essential to the war effort, some joined as infantry and we believe some joined the tunnelling companies that played an important role when the war became more fluid in 1916.

“Since 1918, the mines of this area have gone through a mix of fortunes, with closure and reclamation in recent years.

“There will be two strands to this memorial project – firstly, there will be talks and information gathering linked to finding out more from local family histories and we will make use of the Woodhorn Archive and the Mining Institute in Newcastle.

“We hope that people interested in the project will help research more of the Northumbrian miners’ stories from the First World War to publish in walks leaflets and display panels and an online album.

“We will also work with Active Northumberland to devise some artefact boxes for loans to schools.

“Secondly, there will be opportunities for volunteers to work with ecologists to undertake meadow surveys, seed collections and sowing, as well as planting and growing plants on the meadows to create contemplative and beautiful places for people to find and reflect.”

For more information about how to get involved in the project, call Lesley Silvera on 01670 514876 or email Lesley.silvera@groundwork.org.uk