Glimpse history through old images of Craghead, in County Durham, North East England.
The small, former mining village of Craghead, located close to the town of Stanley, still retains its colliery brass band.
Craghead’s War Hero
Michael Heaviside was born in Gilesgate Durham City in October 1880. He served as a stretcher-bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Boer War. Later, he joined 4 DLI, as a Reservist, whilst working as a miner at Burnhope Colliery and then at Craghead.
The Great War, later known as World War I, began in 1914, Michael Heaviside immediately joined up with the 15 DLI, serving with them until the end of the war in 1918.
On 6th May 1917, at Fontaine le Croisilles, under heavy fire from the German side, he took water to a wounded soldier lying in no-man’s land. Then under cover of darkness, he later returned with a team of stretcher bearers, to carry the injured man to safety.
For his bravery, Private Michael Heaviside received the Victoria Cross.
In the newsreel below, we see Private Michael Heaviside VC of Craghead arriving at Shield Row station, Stanley, County Durham in 1917.
After the war, Michael Heaviside returned to his mining work underground.
He died in his home on 26 April 1939 aged 58 years, and is buried at St Thomas’s Churchyard, Craghead.
His family presented his medals to the Regiment during a parade at Brancepeth Castle in 1957.
Uploaded to YouTube by Beamish Museum
Craghead In The 1960s
On 5th October 1969, a BBC documentary was broadcast, showing the lead up to, and eventual closing, of Craghead Pit.
Some of the miners were ready for retirement, but others were deeply worried about what the future would bring, with redundancy or relocation being the main options.
During the documentary, we also see the 85th Miner’s Gala. Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, and Barbara Castle, the Secretary of State for Employment, were there.
The contributors to the documentary about the end of this North East pit include Barbara Castle, George Hancock, Maggie Hancock, Alf Hesler, John Hughes, Brian Ord, George Ord, Pat Ord, Susan Ord, Kit Robinson, John Robson, and William Welsh.
It’s notable that this film includes footage of men being persuaded to move to pits elsewhere in the country. They would all be closed down within 20 years.
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Thanks to Pavlofox from Pixabay for the page photo.