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Grave is restored of radical miner MP

Thomas Burt's successors as Morpeth MP, Ian Lavery (left) and Denis Murphy
Pictured at his restored grave in Jesmond Old Cemetery

Thomas Burt's successors as Morpeth MP, Ian Lavery (left) and Denis Murphy Pictured at his restored grave in Jesmond Old Cemetery

The grave of a pioneering Morpeth Parliamentarian has been re-dedicated after a two-year restoration project.

Thomas Burt rose from humble beginnings as a mining trapper boy to become the Father of the House in Parliament.

However, his grave in a Newcastle churchyard had recently fallen into a state of disrepair.

With the help of the Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery and the Northumberland National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the grave was restored and was re-dedicated at a simple ceremony at the weekend.

Born in Murton Row near North Shields in 1837, Thomas Burt began his working life at Haswell Colliery at the age of ten. By the time he was 26, he had become the Northumberland Miners’ Union General Secretary, looking after the welfare of thousands of workers in pits from Tyneside to the Scottish Borders.

In 1874, Burt stood as a Radical Labour candidate for the Morpeth Parliamentary constituency and with the support of the local Liberal Party, which agreed not to put forward a candidate, he won the seat.

After the 1892 General Election he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade by Prime Minister William Gladstone, a post he held for three years. He remained Morpeth’s MP until ill-health forced him to stand down at the 1918 election, by which time he was known as the Father of the House.

Former Wansbeck MP Denis Murphy, who is Secretary of the Northumberland NUM, began seeking help for the restoration of Burt’s grave two years ago and now the work has been completed at a cost of £1,700.

Current MP and former NUM Secretary Ian Lavery said: “Thomas But had a long and outstanding career as a Parliamentarian, a tremendous achievement for someone who had virtually no formal schooling and started work down a coal mine at the age of just 10.

“Thanks to the determination of our own union and the fantastic efforts of the Friends of the cemetery, his grave is once again a fitting tribute to a great man.”

 

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