The Durham Miners Association will commemorate the great Thomas Hepburn, leader of the first miners' trade union.
The annual Thomas Hepburn Memorial Service will take place at St Mary's Church, Heworth Saturday 15 October beginning at 11am.
This year's address will be given by DMA Chair Stephen Guy, and there will be readings from Gateshead MP Ian Mearns, and Cllr Dot Burnett, the Mayor of Gateshead. Following the service, wreaths will be laid at Thomas Hepburn's grave in the St Mary's churchyard.
The Durham Miners Association Brass Band will perform during the service and at the graveside.
Banner groups are encouraged to bring their banners and all are welcome to attend to remember the founder of the first miners' trade union. The church will be open from 10am.
The 2022 Thomas Hepburn Memorial Service
Saturday 15 October, 11am
St Mary's Church
Following the service and laying of wreaths, guests are welcome to join the DMA and the Follonsby–Wardley banner group for refreshments at:
The Wardley Club, Palmers bank, Sunderland Rd, Wardley, Gateshead, Newcastle NE10 8AU
About Thomas Hepburn
Thomas Hepburn was born in Pelton in 1795. When his father was killed in a pit accident, he began work at Urpeth Colliery to support his family - at the age of eight. He went on to work at Lamb’s Colliery in Fatfield, Jarrow Colliery, then in 1822 at Hetton Colliery. The same year, he became a Primitive Methodist and a lay preacher.
In 1825, he founded ‘The Colliers United Association of Durham and Northumberland’ - the first miners union - and became its leader.
In 1831, the union led a successful strike - winning a reduction in the working day for children under the age of 12 from 18 hours to 12 hours.
Following this, the colliery owners organised to destroy the union and Hepburn and other leaders were blacklisted.
Hepburn remained an active Chartist throughout his life, and dedicated himself to working-class education. He died in 1864 and is buried at St Mary’s Church, Heworth. His portrait features on several Durham Miners’ Association lodge banners. He is pictured (above) on the Sacriston banner.