The small, former mining village of Craghead, located close to the town of Stanley, still retains its colliery brass band.
The Great War Hero Of Craghead
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.
When WWI began, he immediately joined 15 DLI and served with this Service Battalion throughout the war. He won his Victoria Cross for his bravery at Fontaine le Croisilles in France on 6 May 1917 when he took water under heavy fire to a wounded soldier in no-man’s land. That night he went back with stretcher bearers to carry the man to safety.
Private Michael Heaviside VC of Craghead arriving at Shield Row station, Stanley, County Durham in 1917:
Uploaded to YouTube by Beamish Museum on 3 Nov 2014
After the war, Michael Heaviside returned to 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.
Craghead In The 1960s
BBC Documentary originally shown on BBC 2 on 5th October 1969, showing the lead up to and eventual closer of Craghead Pit, near Stanley, County Durham.
” ‘A Year in the Life’ was an ambitious, in-depth documentary series. In this edition, we visit Craghead, a small village in County Durham. With the local colliery threatened by closure, the miners face uncertain futures. Some welcome the opportunity for retirement, but for others the prospect of relocation or redundancy looms large. The programme also includes scenes from the 85th Durham Miners’ Gala, attended by Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Barbara Castle, then Secretary of State for Employment.”
The contributors 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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