Seaham High School – Memorial Dedication to the men of Seaham Colliery who gave their lives in the service of our country
I was honoured to be asked to speak at a very moving memorial dedication at the new Seaham High School built on the site of Seaham Colliery.
The inscription reads:
“Dedicated to the men of Seaham Colliery who made the ultimate sacrifice in work and in conflict, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”
This is the text of my speech
“The plaque recognises the unique sacrifice made by the community of Seaham, in conflict and at work, which has shaped not only our community but our country.
At its peak and on the eve of the war in 1914, Seaham Colliery employed over 3,000 men and boys, and alongside other pits in our area such as the Vane Tempest, Dawdon, and Murton, the mining industry created and sustained our communities for successive generations.
The principles and values forged within Seaham Colliery, and mines across our country – self-reliance, solidarity, and comradeship – were the same values we needed in our country’s darkest hours, during the First and Second World War.
This memorial is in a unique place of remembrance, steeped in our history and heritage, and is a link between our past, and our future.
We should not forgot the sacrifice that was made underneath the ground we stand on today.
We should remember William Knox, George Dixon, and John Brittle, aged just 10, 12 and 13, children from Seaham who lost their lives in this colliery.
They are not unique but their sacrifice and those of countless other children advanced the cause of compulsory education and the end of child labour.
The Durham Mining Museum list the names of nearly 400 people aged from 7 to 71, who lost their lives at Seaham Colliery, and it is through their sacrifice, life experiences, and activism that we live in the society we have today.
We take so much for granted – but all our rights, the right to go to school, to have a safe workplace, and to live in a free and democratic country – these rights were not given to us, but were hard won, and to protect and defend them people in our community, and across our country, have made the ultimate sacrifice.
We will remember that sacrifice on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month and on Remembrance Sunday.
We will remember all those who fought to create a better society at home, and then in 1914, and in 1939, fought to defend and protect our future.
It is our responsibility to honour that sacrifice, build on their work and use the opportunities we have available to us.
I am pleased that on the site of Seaham Colliery, we have our new school.
I hope you will be inspired by all those who have gone before us, and use your time at Seaham High School, to honour their sacrifice through remembrance and hard work.”