The New Hartley Memorial Pathway
Opened September 8th 2012

Photo: Olive Taylor

Hartley Pit Memorial Garden, New Hartley Village, Northumberland.

A new memorial pathway has opened at the site of the Hartley Pit Disaster of 1862. You can now walk the pathway of words in reflection, memory and contemplation as part of a year of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Hartley Pit  Disaster. This will be a lasting memorial where the disaster took place on that fateful day in January 1862.

New Hartley Community Association and Blyth Valley Arts & Leisure have commissioned Artists Russ Coleman and Rob Walton to create a piece of public landscape architecture in the form of a rejuvenated pathway to beautify the memorial garden and to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Pit Disaster. This commission was routed in the importance of community and involved groups such as the New Hartley Art group, New Hartley community association, Seaton Sluice Middle School and New Hartley First School to name a few. 

The pathway is made using techniques developed over the last decade by Russ Coleman whilst creating and constructing large graphic pavements such as The Flock of Words (Morecambe) and The Comedy Carpet (Blackpool).The text-based content of the path has been produced by Rob Walton after consulting with local community groups in New Hartley, including schools.  The text is a combination of words produced by the community in 2012 – the thoughts, feelings, reflections expressed through prose and poetry. Words and lines have also been lifted from historical records of 1862 including newspaper reports, the subsequent Act of Parliament and Queen Victoria’s letter. The most striking feature of the text used within the pathway is in the 204 names and ages of those who lost their lives through the disaster.  
“The wording within the pathway is thoughtful and moving and reflects historical, community and future perspectives. Reading the words will give you a lump in the throat! The new pathway works extremely well as a fitting memorial. It also works well as a stream of literature to follow along the walk to the pit head. The striking black surface and added colour lifts it all with a slight contemporary edge and energy.”