One of the greatest mining disasters in the history of Britain's coalfields took place in the village of New Hartley on the 16th of January 1862.
On that day, 204 men and boys were lost when the giant beam of the pumping engine snapped and twenty tons of cast iron hurtled down the only shaft, blocking all attempts at rescue for several vital days.
Most of the deaths were caused by a build up of gas in the mines workings.
The funeral that followed on January 26th was remembered for generations - for despite the fact that a few bodies were taken to Cramlington, Cowpen and Seghill for burial, most were buried together in St. Albans churchyard at Earsdon, and it is said that the last coffin had not left New Hartley when the first was reaching the churchyard, thronged by 60,000 people who had come to stare or to mourn.
The following sites will
give you lots more information about the disaster
(Links open in new windows)