Remembering Woodhorns Disaster

Early on the morning of Sunday 13th August 1916, Woodhorn Colliery was rocked by a devastating underground explosion and the community left grief-stricken by the tragic loss of 13 men. Throughout the summer of this centenary year, the events of that fateful day are being remembered in a series of activities at Woodhorn Museum.

A commemorative trail has been produced to guide visitors around the displays and historic site highlighting objects and buildings pertinent to the Woodhorn Disaster. Visitors can also join staff for a daily organised guided tour of the former colliery site. Both the trail and tour will conclude with a look at a revealing plan of the underground workings and the destruction wreaked by the huge gas blast.

Children’s craft activities during the holiday period have also been themed. Until 12th August youngsters will have the opportunity to make their own version of a miner’s tally – the special identification tag that every miner carried. From 13th August, the activity sessions (noon – 3pm) will see children learning about and making disaster glasses just like the ones on display in the museum.

On the anniversary itself, Saturday 13th August at 11am, visitors and the wider community are invited to join with descendants and families of the men lost in the tragedy for a commemoration. The gathering will take place in the shadow of the pit wheels at the memorial statue to honour the victims of the Woodhorn Disaster.

Speaking about the centenary activities, Interim Director Jo Raw said, “It is vitally important that we remember Woodhorn’s most significant accident, the tragic loss of life, and the enormous price paid by the families left behind.

“At a time when communities were already suffering loss on a daily basis with men serving their country in World War 1, this devastating explosion must have ripped the heart out of Ashington and nearby Newbiggin.

“We would like to invite people to take part in our activities this summer, and take a moment to remember the ever-present dangers and enormous risks faced by all miners in pursuit of coal.”

Full details of these special centenary commemorations and all Woodhorn’s activities can be found at

Woodhorn is open 10am – 5pm every day up to and including Monday 5th September when it will resume normal Wednesday – Sunday opening.