Bowburn Miners Lodge

Bowburn Miners Lodge – Miscellaneous news items and lists of officials

Note: Many of the following items were gleaned from the excellent collection of local newspapers available, on microfiche, at Durham County Council’s Clayport Library in Durham. At the time of writing, not all past copies of the Durham County Advertiser and the Durham Chronicle & County Gazette have yet been explored. So other items may be added at a later date.


24 November 1908: John Plummer’s Award was made to set hewing and other prices and conditions for working in the Busty Seam at Bowburn Colliery, following arbitration between owners and workmen: the first such formal agreement.

John Plummer, a former HM Inspector of Mines, had been appointed “umpire” after arbitrators for the owners (T.Y. Greener, of Crook) and miners (J. Herriotts), appointed by the Joint Committee of the Durham Coal Owners and the Durham Miners Association, had failed to reach an agreement.Local representatives of Bell Bros and the Bowburn miners were not named in this Agreement.

However on a later agreement, regarding band stone prices, signed on 22 February 1910, local representatives were named as A.L. Steavenson and W. Harle, for the owners, and Thomas Foster, Robert Griffiths, John Ward, Samuel Laverick, James Griffiths and Thomas Wilkinson, for the miners.

Source: Bowburn Lodge DMA (1935) “Local Agreements Book”.


26 July 1919: At the first Durham Miners’ Gala since before World War I, Bowburn Miners’ Lodge (or perhaps just a contingent of Bowburn miners) is believed to have marched in with a home-made banner, depicting Nurse Edith Cavell, who had been executed in Belgium on 12 October 1915 but whose body had recently been returned in state to Britain, in May 1919.

Banner historian Arthur Moyes was told, in 1973(?), that this was hand-painted by “Mr. Marrington”, a painter at Bowburn Colliery, and that it depicted Edith Cavell on one side and John Wilson, DMA Agent and MP, on the other. He was told this by Mr. J. Hutchinson, of Gilesgate, a former Bowburn miner, who gave him the remains of what he believed was this banner, during a banner history exhibition at the DLI Museum. Moyes (1974) described this as “one of the most important banners in Durham Miners’ history”. It uniquely portrayed an identifiable woman – the only miners’ lodge banner ever to do so. Mr Hutchinson reported, wrongly, that the banner went into Durham for a few more years after that. He also said that “Mr Marrington” was disgraced and demoted as a result, both management and his fellow miners being ashamed of the banner – though the reasons for that were not clear. (Theories have even included sympathy with Germany, for instance, but it is more likely that it was just a poor portrait of a national hero.)

However it was found in 2005, after Mr Moyes had donated these banner fragments to Bowburn Banner Group, and they were examined by conservators, that they were of a professionally produced damask banner, made by Tutill, the London-based banner-makers. This was the banner that was produced in 1920 (see below) and was proudly displayed and paraded at the Durham Gala from then until 1938.

It is believe that “Mr. Marrington” (possibly James Harrington, a Bowburn miner who had previously been a house painter, and whose son William John died on the Somme in 1916) painted this earlier, temporary banner, with a more amateurish portrait of Edith Cavell, and that this was carried into Durham for the 1919 Gala only.

Sources: See following entry.


26 July 1920 (eve of the 1920 Miners’ Gala, on 27 July): Probable date of the unfurling of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge’s Edith Cavell banner, in the Hare & Greyhound Inn.

It depicted Edith Cavell on one side and John Wilson on the other. (See above.)

This was remembered, many years later, by Joe Griffiths, son of the checkweighman, Bob Griffiths. Joe had attended the unfurling “at the age of 10” (probably just before his tenth birthday in August 1920).

Sources: F. Knox; Moyes (1974); N. Emery (1998), “Banners of the Durham Coalfield”, p.140; Oxford Companion to British History; Joe Griffiths; the evidence of the banner itself, now kept in Bowburn Community Centre; speculation by Mike Syer, about James Marrington, based on separate research about WWI casualties.


The 1920 banner with lodge officials at Durham Big Meeting


September 1921: Half-yearly meeting of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge elected its officers and committee:

President: Cuthbert Morley

Secretary: Robert Willey

Treasurer: George Scott

Delegate: John Coates

Compensation Secretary: J. Chatt

Average Taker: J. McEwan

Doorkeeper & Crakeman: W. Bewick

Auditors: W. Cowans & J. Witham

Assistant Weighman: J. Witham

Committee: J. Ramshaw, J. Elliott, J. Witham & officials above.

Sources: Dur. Co. Adv. 23/9/1921, p6


April 1922: The new Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council consisted of Messrs. Barlow (Cassop), Bird (Tursdale), W.F. Gardner (cashier, Bowburn Colliery), J. Peat (Cassop), Pluck (Cassop), J.G. Ramsay, (under-manager, Bowburn Colliery), Robson (Tursdale), J. Storey (Grocer, Bowburn) and E.S. Toulson (Wheatsheaf Inn, Bowburn) J.G. Ramsay was re-elected chairman and W.F. Gardner was elected vice-chairman.The previous vice-chairman (re-elected at the annual meeting in 1921) was Cuthbert Morley, President of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge. He presumably either didn’t stand for election in 1922 or was defeated in the ballot.The newly elected councillors were presumably Fred Barlow, Bird (Tursdale), William Frederick Gardner, James Peat, XXX Pluck (Cassop), John Gladstone Ramsay, Thomas Robson (Tursdale schoolmaster), John Henry [Bacon Jack] Storey and Edward Toulson.Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 7 April 1922, p2


June 1923: Half-yearly meeting of Bowburn Colliery Miners’ Lodge elected:

President: C. Morley

Secretary: R. Willey, sen.

Treasurer: Wm. Bewick

Delegate: J. Coates

Compensation Secretary: J. Chatt

Average-taker: R. Willey, jun.

Auditors: J. Hinton and D. Sutherland

Minimum Wage Board representatives: J. Coates, J. Hinton

Pit Inspectors: J. Chatt, W. Allison

Crakeman: Matt. Willey

Committee: J. Chatt, J. Bunce, D. Sutherland, C. Austin, W. Allison, R. Willey, jun. 

Source: Durham County Advertiser 22/6/23, p.3



April 1924: Half-yearly meeting of Bowburn Colliery Miners’ Lodge elected:

C. Morley, president

R. Willey (sen.), secretary

Wm. Bewick, treasurer

J. Coates, delegate

J. Chatt, compensation secretary

R. Willey (jun.), average-taker

J. Hinton & D. Sutherland, auditors

J. Coates & J. Hinton, Minimum Wage Board reps.

J. Chatt & W. Allison, pit inspectors

Matt. Willey, crakeman

Committee: J. Chatt, J. Bunce, D. Sutherland, C. Austin, W. Allison, R. Willey (jun.)

Source: Durham County Advertiser 2 May 24


The 1920 banner with lodge officials and soup kitchen during the 1926 lock-out in the old welfare hall


December 1928: Yearly meeting of Bowburn Colliery Miners’ Lodge appointed officers for the ensuing 12 months:

Cuthbert Morley, president;Robert Willey (sen.), secretary;Wm. Bewick, treasurer;John Coates, delegate;J.Chatt, compensation secretary;John Witham, assistant weighman;J.Coates & Robert Turton. Minimum Wage Board reps.;Charles Witham, R.Turton & Jos. Robson, average-takers;John Redfearn & Jos. Hinton, auditors;W.Ferguson, crake and doorman;R.Turton & Jos. Turton, pit inspectors;Committee: C.Morley, R.Willey(sen), J.Coates, W.Bewick, J.Redfearn, J.Chatt, C.Witham, J.Robson, John Witham & R.Turton

Source: Durham County Advertiser 20 December 1928, p4


December 1931: Annual meeting of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge elected:

C. Morley, president

Robt. Willey (senr.), secretary

Robt. Willey (junr.), assistant secretary

Chas. Witham, treasurer

John Coates, delegate

Jos. Chatt, compensation secretary

Robt. Willey (senr.), Durham Hospital delegate

J. Coates & R. Turton, minimum wage reps.

J. Coates, Newcastle Hospital delegate

Francis Lawson, Jos. Robson, H. Jones, average-taker

John Witham, J. McKeown (junr.), auditors

R. Wilkinson, crakeman and doorkeeper

Jos. Chatt & R. Turton, pit inspectors

Committee: Wm. Jordan, Jos. Chatt, F. Lawson, R. Turton, Jos. Robson, John Witham

Source: Durham County Advertiser & Durham Chronicle 1 January 1932 p.4


23 July 1932: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge banner was carried at Big Meeting by J. Elliott, J. Willis, B. Marr, G. Slater, G. Haigh and G. Fleetham.

Each member of the checkweigh fund at Bowburn Colliery received 17s and each half-member 8s 6d. Members of the local fund received only 6s (half-members 3s).

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chron. 15 July 1932 p.4 + 12


June 1932: Robert Willey jnr was “appointed as Secretary to Bowburn Miners’ Lodge, in succession to his late father, who held the position for many years previous and up to his recent death”.

Robert Willey snr. held the post from 1921 or before. His son, who had been elected Assistant Secretary at the previous annual meeting, only held the post of Secretary for six months, till Billy Kelly was elected in December.

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 1 July 1932 p.4


December 1932: Annual meeting of Bowburn Colliery Miners’ Lodge.

New President = William Allison (formerly Cuthbert Morley);

New Secretary = William Kelly (formerly Robert Willey, junior, who had held this position for only six months, after succeeding his father, following his death, in June 1932);

Treasurer Charles Witham was re-elected;

Delegate Robert Coates was re-elected unopposed.

“Mr. Cuthbert Morley, Bowburn, president of Bowburn Colliery Miners’ Lodge for some years, was re-elected to the position by a ballot taken last week, when he received 303 votes to 238 recorded for Mr. W. Allison. Later he declined to accept the position and at a subsequent meeting of members Mr. Allison was appointed.“County Councillor W. Kelly, Sherburn, has been appointed secretary, receiving 354 votes at the ballot taken as against 244 recorded for Mr. R. Willey, retiring secretary. Mr. Kelly was recently apointed as one of the checkweighmen at the colliery.“

Mr. C. Witham retains the position of treasurer with 300 votes to 224 given to Mr. R. Kirkup.“Mr. R. Coates has been reappointed unopposed as lodge delegate.”

Sources: Durham Co. Adv. 30 December 32; Durham County Advertiser & Durham Chronicle 30 December 1932 p.12; 1 July 1932 p.4


10 December 1933: Half-yearly meeting of Bowburn Miners’ Lodge, held on Sunday morning, elected its officers.

President: Wm. Allison (re-elected)Secretary: Co. Cllr. Wm. KellyTreasurer: Chas. WithamCompensation Secretary: J. ChattDelegate: J. CoatesMinimum Wage Representatives: J. Coates & J. WithamAuditors: N. Bamling & J. WithamDelegate, Durham County Hospital: W. KellyGeneral delegate & delegate to Newcastle Infirmary & Mines Inspection Board: J. CoatesAverage taker: Francis LawsonCrake & doorman: R. WilkinsonCommittee: J. Robson, T. Jordan, J. Redfern, J. Bunce & J. Hinton

Source: Dur. Co. Advertiser & Dur. Chronicle 15 December 1933 p.15


18 May 1936: George Edward Lynn, deputy at Bowburn Colliery, of 31, Durham Road, Bowburn, took the secretary and treasurer of the Bowburn Miners’ Lodge, William Kelly and Charles Witham, to court. He claimed 25/- pocket money in connection with his visit to Conishead Prory, which had been refused.The Judge awarded him this amount and ordered the defence to pay his costs.

Mr. Lynn, and other deputies (and non-members of the Lodge) had, about four times a year, paid 2d levies to a fund that paid expenses to Lodge members who attended the mners’ convalescent home. However a decision of the Lodge in 1932 made only members of the Lodge eligible to receive such payments.The Judge made acid comments (throughout the trial) about this arrangement, which he said was “un-English, horrible and un-Christian” and ruled for the plaintiff.(He gave leave to appeal. The result of that appeal has not yet been found.)More than 180 Bowburn miners had gone to the home since it opened in 1930.

[A dispute between Deputies and the DMA was reported as reaching a climax, eight years later (Dur. Co. Adv. 6/10/1944 p.1), in connection with a case at Birtley. The Lynn case may perhaps have been related to a wider deputies vs. DMA antagonism.]

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 22 May 1936 p.11


21 July 1939: [Note: I’m assuming the banner was unfurled the night before Durham Miners’ Gala: itself uncertain. And the date of that year’s Gala is, exceptionally, NOT given on Durham Mining Museum’s website. It seems generally to have been held on the fourth Saturday of July: therefore the 22nd, that year. But it was sometimes on the third. It has only been held on the second Saturday since 1980.]

Possible date of the unfurling of Bowburn Miners Lodge’s new banner, to replace the Edith Cavell banner.According to WA Moyes, this was their first professionally made banner, replacing the locally-made Edith Cavell banner. However it was discovered in 2005 that this too had been a Tutill banner and confirmed later that it was in use at least until 1938.It is presumed that the new banner was unfurled in 1939, as it was again a Durham Miners Association (DMA) banner (not an NUM one) and there were no Galas during the War. The new banner was a Tutill, damask silk DMA banner. It depicted the “Emancipation of Labour” on one side, the principal central figure being a woman wearing a breast plate of progress and carrying a garland and a flag with the words “Emancipation of Labour”. She led a procession of people over mountains to a valley lit by sunshine. The motto below was “Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains”.On the other side, miners shook hands in the traditional “Brotherhood of Man” design, before the legend “Unity is Strength”. The motto below was “United to obtain the just reward of our labour”.The first record found so far of this banner being marched into Durham was in 1947 (described by Emery, from DRO D/X 411/97).It remained in use until 1958. A photograph copied by Tom Graham shows his father in a formal lodge officials group, posed before the banner. This could have been taken to mark the unfurling.Jos Wright was seated at front centre. He became Lodge Chairman / President in 1946.

What happened to this banner, after it was replaced in 1959, is unknown.

Source: N. Emery (1998), “Banners of the Durham Coalfield”, p.140; WA Moyes (1974) “The Banner Book”, p.56; Mike Amos, Northern Echo 1983 Gala Souvenir Edition, p.v; Durham Record Office D/X 411/97


21 January 1939: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge, at its annual meeting, returned the following officers unopposed:

Ald. W. Kelly (secretary)

C. Witham (treasurer)

J. Chatt (compensation secretary)

T. [F.?] Lawson (average taker) and

M. Thompson & J. Harrod (auditors).Local pit inspectors were F. Miller (Busty Seam) & J. Kell (Harvey Seam)

J Kell was representative to the Bishop Auckland & Spennymoor Miners’ Inspection Board

Hospital delegates were J. Ramshaw (RVI, Newcastle), J. Chatt (Durham County Hospital) & Ald. W. Kelly (Sunderland Eye Infirmary)

Crakeman: H. Witham

Committee: M.Thompson, JJ Ramshaw, J. Scott, J. Chatt, J. Allan, F. Lawson, F. Latue, CE Davis, J. Young, W. Thompson, R. Priest & P. Stewart.

The following were elected in contested ballots:President: J. Witham (770E), E. Murray (515);Assistant Secretary: JR Brown (651E), P. Stewart (610);Assistant Treasurer: F. Latue (656E), C. Pragnell (365), CE Davis (224);DMA delegate: J.Ward jun. (399E), M. Thompson (319), J. Scott (234), CE Davis (198), W. Thompson (96)Card marker: G. Witham (229E), L. Hall (225), R. Priest (207), J. Allan (176), A. Allison (167), T. Moore (138), R. Kirkup (107).

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 13 January 1939 p.4


2 May 1943: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge was informed that its request that cuttermen, drillers, fillers, stonemen and putters be able to revert to a system of individual piece rates had been allowed.This averted a strike threatened (subject to 14 days’ notice) if settlement had not been reached by Tuesday 4 May 1943. Piece rates had operated until 1931, when they were substituted by payment of a common tonnage of 2s/6d and the earnings pooled.The need for coal in war-time, in this growing pit (now some 2,000 men and boys employed) led to request for change back to piece rates.This was initially refused but in w/e 1 May 43 DMA representatives discussed it with the Durham Coal Owners’ Association at an Urgency Committee meeting in Newcastle, at which it was decided to grant the request.Sam Watson (DMA treasurer) and Ald. W. Kelly (lodge secretary and checkweighman) were praised for the happy solution.

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 7 May 1943 p.6


September 1944: Mr. W. Todd, secretary of the Dean & Chapter Colliery Miners’ Lodge, chaired a meeting at Ferryhhill about the problem when Bevin Boys refused to join the Durham Miners’ Association in the hope of getting out of mining. Sam Watson, treasurer of the DMA attended the meeting, supported by Ald. W. Kelly (Bowburn), Mr. R.C. Gray and lodge officials.(If Bevin Boys did so refuse, they were transferred to other coalfields where there was no closed shop.)[Did Billy Kelly’s presence imply that there were Bevin Boys at Bowburn CollieryÖ and that this problem had perhaps arisen there?]

Source: Dur. Co. Adv. 29/9/1944 p.1


June 1945: Francis Lawson (59), of 2, Durham Road, Bowburn, died. He was buried in Coxhoe churchyard. FL had lived in Bowburn for over 30 years and had been average taker for Bowburn Miners’ Lodge.His wife had died in 1929. They left four daughters, Misses V. & E. Lawson, Mrs. Stephenson and Mrs. Platts.A memorial service to Mrs. Jessie Moore, Mr. Francis Lawson and Mr. Thomas Lamb Wharrier, conducted by Rev. A. Burle, the new priest-in-charge, was held at St. John’s Mission Church on 8 July 1945

Sources: Dur. Co. Adv. 29/6/1945 p.3 and (re service) 6 July 1945 p.3 + 13 July 1945 p.3

The 1939 banner with lodge officials near the old welfare hall


11 April 1952: The Durham County Advertiser reported that Richard Ferguson, of 113, Park Avenue, Bowburn, had been admitted a Serving Brother of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. After working in the mines for 40 years, and once secretary of Bowburn Miners Lodge, Mr. Ferguson left that industry in 1951 and became a rent collector for Durham RDC. He had served on Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council for a number of years and was currently vice-chairman of Bowburn County School board of managers and a life-long member of Bowburn Methodist Church. He had also served terms on Sherburn Hill Co-operative Management Board. He took first aid classes at Bowburn and Sherburn schools and his services were in great demand all over the county.

Sources: Durham County Advertiser 11 April 1952, p4; Bowburn Interchange no. 19


18 January 1954: Pit head baths + medical centre + extension to canteen commenced work at Bowburn Colliery.The baths were officially opened by Mr. Nattrass, NCB Divisional Labour Director, two days earlier (Saturday 16 January 54). The engraved stone read:

“THIS PITHEAD BATH WAS OPENED ON THE 16TH JANUARY 1954 BY N.E. NATTRASS ESQ., O.B.E., J.P., LABOUR DIRECTOR, DURHAM DIVISION NATIONAL COAL BOARD”

The opening ceremony was chaired by W. Welsh, No. 4 (South West Durham) Area General Manager.Sam Watson, CBE, DL, JP, General Secretary of the NUM (Durham Area) spoke on behalf of the NUM.

A vote of thanks to Mr. Nattrass was proposed by W.L. Lowson, Manager of Bowburn Colliery, and seconded by J.R. [Reg] Brown, Secretary of the NUM (Bowburn Lodge).The baths had 2,706 lockers (@ 19 April 1961)

Sources: R.W. Ramsay’s notebook; Engraved stone on the Baths wall; The Bather’s Handbook; R. Shield’s notebook p.131 + 165


June 1956: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge elections:

Delegate: J. Fineran

Pit Inspectors: G. Arkwright & R. Kirkup

Federated Board Representatives: W. Allison, H. Ayton, JR Brown, R. Priest & JE Wright

Welfare Committee: A. Allison, R. Arkwright, H. Ayton, JR Brown, F. Latue & JE Wright

Source: Durham Co. Adv. 22/6/1956 p.14


17 July 1959: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge’s last banner was unfurled by Chris Mayhew MP on the eve of Big Meeting Day, 18 July 1959. The banner was purchased from Tutill.On one side was a distance shot of the Racecourse on Gala day, with the motto, “Workers of all lands unite”. On the other side was an aerial view of Conishead Priory Convalescent Home.The Rossington band, which nearly always marched in with the Bowburn banner in the pit’s later years, did so the next day.

Sources: Beamish Museaum Resource Centre (10/6/2003); R.W. Ramsay’s notebook p.11; N. Emery (1998), “Banners of the Durham Coalfield”, p.140; Tommy Thompson (re Rossington) 3 July 2003)


The 1959 banner with lodge officials in the old welfare hall


1964: Tilley seam abandoned at Bowburn Colliery.

Information received by the Bowburn Lodge from Redhills on 21 February 1964 was that the colliery was to be re-organised, reducing manpower from 1,335 in September 1963, to 1,287 at 21 February 64, to 1,203 by the end of 1964 and 885 by March 1965, the reductions to be made by “normal wastage”.

A survey of future workings had been carried out and the Croxdale Harvey District was to cease proudction at the end of March 1964, the Harvey Shaft subdivision would cease to operate around September 1964 and the Tilley Seam would become exhausted in March 1965.

Sources: Coal Authority; Miners Lodge memo 21 February 1964


17 July 1967: Bowburn Miners Lodge marched the Lodge banner into Durham for the Big Meeting for the last time.A newspaper placard attached to one of the banner poles bore the words “Going on the dole next week”. One of the pole carriers, for part of the way, was former undermanager George Johns (by then undermanager at Fishburn).Yeadon Old Band, of Leeds, marched the banner in.The “dole” notice was written by Mary Pragnell.Lodge officials were Cllr. J.E. Wright (shotfirer, Chairman for 24 years), Cllr. J.J. Ramshaw (stone man, Secretary for 15 years), Bob Arkwright (underground worker, Treasurer), Tommy Elliott (Lodge delegate) and George Wall (Pit Insepctor).Cllrs. Wright and Ramshaw (former and current Chairmen of Durham RDC) expressed concerns about employment prospects for the youth of the village and hoped that, with the area being classed as a development area, new industries would be forthcoming.

Dur. Co. Adv. 21 July 1967 p.1 (with photo); Bob Bellis

“Going on the dole next week”


1971: Bowburn Miners’ Lodge banner was acquired by the Colliery Officials & Staff Association (COSA) and the words “Bowburn Lodge” were painted over.

COSA members marched in with the banner in 1971 and 1972. It was at first kept at the COSA regional headquarters in Burn House, Newcaslte, but by 2003 hung on the staircase wall of the COSA national offices in Mansfield. It was retrieved from there and returned to Bowburn in 2005. (See below.)

(Colliery officials did not attend the Gala in earlier times. They and their families went on outings to the seaside instead.)

Sources: Beamish Museaum Resource Centre (10/6/2003); Moyes (1974) p.104; Mike Syer (correspondence with COSA)


28 August 1984: Cllr. Joseph Edward Wright, B.E.M., of 5, Park Hill Estate, died, aged 74 years. Joss Wright had been chairman of Bowburn Miner’ Lodge for 25 years (till it closed); the longest serving governor of Sherburn Hospital (for some 25 years); a Parish Councillor for 35 years, and a District Councillor since 1959: first with the Rural D.C. (chairman 1969) and then with the City Council (mayor 1978-79). He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1957.

Source: Durham Advertiser 30 August 84 p.1 + 6/9/84 p.2


16 February 2005: The 1959 (“Racecoure”) Bowburn Miners’ Lodge Banner was returned to Durham from the C.O.S.A. offices in Mansfield. The banner was collected by the Bowburn Banner Group, with help from the NUM (Durham Area), having been held by COSA (the Colliery Officials & Staff Association) since soon after the pit ceased production in 1967.The Bowburn Banner Group sought funding to have the banner conserved for display in Bowburn Communiity Centre.