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Born to be a miner

Born to be a miner

Like many men growing up in County Durham’s coalfield communities in the 20th century, Gordon Parkin was born to be a miner.

Gordon was born in his grandmother’s house in Easington Colliery on a sweltering hot summer’s day on 6th August 1949.

The country was still recovering from the effects of the Second World War, but Gordon looks back on his childhood with fond memories.

His grandfather and father both worked down the Pit so when he was old enough and having finished school, like most young men in Easington he began his apprenticeship.

He says: “You were not allowed to actually mine for coal until you were 18 so for the first years I would help bring supplies down the mine with the help of pit ponies and also do jobs above ground.

“Then, when I was old enough, I moved to the coal face and worked there until 1993.

“It was hard, manual work, but it’s just something you did growing up in a mining community like Easington.”

Like many men, working down the Pit took its toll on Gordon. He badly injured his leg due to an accident at work and along with vibration white finger caused by using heavy machine and arthritis from years spent crawling in mineshafts, he had to take early retirement.

Even though he was no longer able to work, Gordon has always remained proud and passionate about mining and was an active union man fighting for miners’ rights, even after the pits closed.

This was one of the reasons why he became involved at DAMHA as we played our part in regenerating former coalfield communities.

He joined our executive committee in 1980 and after a spell as Vice-President, he became President in 2008.

He recently stood down after 40 years following the overhaul of our board structure (see page 6), but we are delighted he is continuing his association with DAMHA as our Honorary President.

Gordon says: “It has been a privilege to be involved with Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association for such a long period of time and it holds lots of happy memories for me.

“There’s been no better feeling than seeing us open so many new housing developments, providing high-quality, two-bedroom bungalows across our region.

“It’s also been great to have been able to carry out tens of millions of pounds worth of improvements to our older properties, including installing new energy efficient heating systems, new windows and even solar panels.

“I have also enjoyed representing the Association at the Miners’ Gala each year and meeting so many of our residents at various events.

“There’s still more to do of course and I am pleased to be able to stay involved in my new honorary role.”