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Appeal to shine a light on the strong women of north east history

15 August 2018

Inspirational tales of women whose spirit and determination shone through in north east mining communities are being sought for a County Durham art exhibition.

Residents across the region are being asked to delve into their family archives for stories and pictures of women of the 1800s, whose strength and fortitude enabled them not only to survive but to make their mark on society. 

These personal histories will be used as part of an upcoming exhibition at Mining Art Gallery, shining a light on the often overlooked role of women in coal mining communities.  

As miners worked in dangerous conditions, their families lived in constant fear of pit disasters and the risk of losing not only a loved one, but also their breadwinner.

Many women prepared against this by taking in washing, mending and dressmaking to protect the family’s finances.

Some women took this tenacious spirit to rebel against injustice. In 1872, miners’ wives of Durham and Northumberland organised a protest against the high prices charged by local butchers. 

Stories, anecdotes and photographs of strong women like these in the north east’s Victorian mining communities can be submitted to The Auckland Project by emailing, by Friday, 31 August.

Where possible, these contributions will feature in a temporary exhibition at Mining Art Gallery later this year, with full details to be announced soon.

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