A dedicated team has been working to bring a long lost pit banner back to life using research from the past as well as a fragment from the original. Flossie Mainwaring-Taylor reports

ONE of the oldest miners’ banners is to make an historic return to one of the biggest events in County Durham’s calendar.

Trimdon Colliery banner has not made an appearance at Durham Miners’ Gala for what is believed to be about a century but this year will be proudly held up alongside villagers thanks to a conservation project.

A team of residents, councillors and an artist have been working tirelessly to bring the pit banner back to life using a fragment from the 125-year-old original.

Group chairman David Gibson said: “It’s a big achievement for a small community. Everybody is thrilled to bits with it. It’s a massive piece of history to come back to the community and to take it into the gala to represent Trimdon Colliery is fantastic.”

Trimdon Colliery Banner Group raised almost £9,000 to fund the creation of the new banner which has just been completed.

Among the donors were Cllrs Peter Brookes, Lucy Hovvels, Morris Nicholls, Trimdon Parish Council and members of the public.

The remaining fragment was found at Blackhall, near Hartlepool, by the late Ted Atherton who dedicated 50 years to researching its history.

A newspaper cutting records its unfurling in July 1892.

On the front it shows three men in the Trimdon Colliery agent’s office while on the back is a depiction of the Good Samaritan.

It has been recreated by Emma Shankland, of Durham Bannermakers, who spent 11 weeks hand-painting both insets on silk.

The treasured replica’s permanent home will be Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Working Men’s Club.

It is hoped in time the original fragment will also go on display in the club.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson has pledged to walk with the Trimdon Colliery banner at the annual Big Meeting in July.

The politician’s father was a miner for about 40 years, working mostly down the pit at Fishburn and then Kelloe.

He said: “We shouldn’t forget the heritage and the men and boys who worked down the coal mines, and those who lost their lives.

“I know there has been a lot of work put in by volunteers to ensure the heritage of the mining industry goes on, mainly to do with the community spirit it generated.

“I usually walk with the Fishburn banner but this year I’ll walk in with this one for Trimdon Colliery because it’s an important time for them.”

Group secretary Paul Trippet said: “It will forever have a home in Trimdon Colliery and will be celebrated at least every year at Durham Miners’ Gala. We hope the people of Trimdon Colliery come out on that day and support us wholeheartedly.”

A fundraiser for the group featuring singer Aryana will be held in Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Working Men’s Club today at 7.30pm. Admission is £3.