We have recently had a large poster made to adorn our cafe walls adding to the general decor and heritage interest displays in the building. It is a reproduction of the last Isabella Union Banner.
The banner was last flown in 1986 when Bates pit closed after a long and bitter battle to save Blyth’s last colliery.
The banners had been a part of the Northumberland coalfield life since the 1830s. They were a rallying point for miners of a particular union lodge. Mineworkers would march proudly behind their respective banner at the annual picnic, gala and other events which were a mixture of amusement and socialist political gathering.
The banner is post-nationalisation which happened to the mining industry in 1947. This banner was probably created in the early 1950s when the Blyth pits, under joint ownership prior to 1947, were in full production. Mill and Isabella pits closed in the 1960s with the majority of men being transferred to the “super pit” Bates colliery.
The banner symbolises the confidence and pride that the hard-fought goal of nationalisation gave the miners. It also symbolises unity of the miners of the three pits and modernisation which is displayed on the images.
The reverse of the banner had as its main image a modern colliery (Bates?) complete with A Frame headstock. The banner can be seen being paraded in this cine film of the Bedlington Miners Picnic…