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Mining museum

Mining museum

Possessions belonging to a former mines rescue worker are now on display in a popular County Durham mining museum.

In 2018, DAMHA was proud to have been presented with a ceremonial helmet that Harry Vayro was given when he became a mines rescue worker in Crook in 1952.

The helmet was given to us by Harry’s son Keith, who also had other memorabilia passed down from his dad, who died in 2012, including medals and badges. Keith’s mother-in-law, Una Mack, serves on the DAMHA board.

After discussions with Keith and Una, DAMHA decided that rather than having the helmet at its head office and the rest of Harry’s possessions in Keith’s home in Crook it would be more fitting to donate everything to the Durham Mining Museum at Spennymoor Town Hall.

That means everyone can now see a real slice of mining history, as well as all the other things on display in the museum.

Keith, who used to live in one of the homes allocated to mines rescue workers next to the fire station in Pease Road, Crook, said: “Those based at Crook had to cover a large area and you can imagine how many mines there were at that time, so the firefighters were very busy.

“Everyone feared an explosion underground and I remember Dad telling me about one he attended where they were unable to get to the men who were trapped. When they did get through, they were all dead, so the firefighters had the grim task of bringing out the bodies.”

As well as the helmet, Keith has also donated the medals Harry was awarded for his mines rescue service.

Keith added: “I am pleased that my father’s possessions can now be viewed by anyone who visits the museum. It’s a fitting place for them and it means his memory lives on at the museum.”

The Durham Mining Museum is open to the public Monday to Thursday from noon until 4pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am until 2pm. Admission is free, but donations are always gratefully received.

The museum, which also features a mock mine, is entirely staffed by volunteers, so please visit and support it if you can. For information is available from the museum website.