Sacriston is a village and civil parish in County Durham, England, situated 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the city of Durham.
Although the area has been populated since the Bronze Age, the first recorded settlement dated back to the 13th century to Sacristan's Heugh. According to old maps it was once known as "Segerston Heugh" and is now known to local people as "Segga". This farm and manor house was once the residence of the Sacristan, a monk who held the Office of the Sacristan of the monastery at Durham Cathedral. The Sacristan was responsible for providing everything necessary for the services of the Cathedral: bread and wine, the vestments etc. He was also responsible for repairs to Durham Cathedral. The funds for carrying out the official duties were generated from the estate of Sacristan's Heugh which was finally demolished shortly after World War II.
Sacriston Colliery shaft was sunk in 1838 and by the 1890s the pit employed 600 men, producing 1,000 tons of coal a day.
Disaster of 1903
On Monday 16 November 1903, water flooded into the 3rd West district of the 'Busty' Seam. The inrush killed two miners: John Whittaker (25) and Thomas McCormick (52). McCormick family tradition (source Harry McCormick) is that Thomas McCormick's son Gregory had to be restrained from rushing into the flood. When the workings were pumped out another man, Robert Richardson was found on Friday standing on his coal tub having been stranded in the dark, surrounded by dirty flood water for 92 hours.
"The inquest was opened by Mr. Coroner Graham on the 20th November and adjourned till the 9th December when evidence was taken, and the jury returned a verdict that the two men were accidentally drowned, and that, owing to the peculiar circumstances, no blame attached to the management." The Royal Humane Society awarded their silver medal to six mine officials. The enquiry lasted just five hours. See the Durham County Advertiser news report.
There is a photograph of a contemporary souvenir at https://www.flickr.com/photos/greg_mccormick/8818617256/
Durham Mining Museum has further information, for instance at http://www.dmm.org.uk/individ1/i11353.htm
Miners themselves have not all been convinced that the management was innocent or that the medals were appropriate. There have been suggestions that cover-ups were commonplace.
Decades later workers stumbled on the skeleton of one of the pit ponies that died during the accident and a full tub of coal that still bore a miners token (miners were on piece work). The miner then received his back pay.
Disaster of 1941
On 4 December 1941, a fall of stone on one of the work areas killed 5 miners they were:
::::Joseph Welsh, 46
::::George W. Scott, 39
::::William Richardson, 50
::::William Smith, 40
::::John William Britton, 47
Decline and eradication of mining
As a result of the exhaustion of thick coal seams, only 1,500 tons of best quality coal was being produced a week in 1979. The last coal production was on 15 November 1985 and the colliery closed on 28 December 1985. As in many mining areas, the loss of the 'pit' led to significant unemployment and related social problems. Sacriston narrowly avoided D classification in 1985 due to social deprivation and general poor quality of housing. Little evidence of the mining operations now remains, with the area around the former coal mine having been landscaped and turned into woodland. A few mining-related buildings do survive, the largest of which is now used as a depot for the local authority's refuse vehicles, while the foundations of demolished mine buildings can be seen in places in the new woodland. Sacriston Wood is now a local nature reserve.
An electoral ward in the same name exists. The total population of this ward taken at the 2011 census was 6,613.
Life in Sacriston today
More than 25 years after the closure of its last coal mine, the village retains a strong sense of community. Recently, a new community centre has opened, and the village has started to shake off its coal mining past. The village has a Travel Agent and a Post Office along with a large number of shops for a village of its size, including a Tesco Express, two other mini-marts, a greengrocer, newsagent, barbershop, off-licence many takeaway shops and others.
There are also a couple of social clubs and similar organisations including Sacriston Working Mens Club and a Roman Catholic social club, cricket club and one remaining public house, 'The Shoes'. The other pubs, 'The Village Inn', 'The Daisy Hill', 'The George and Dragon' and 'The Robin Hood', are now closed.
The village has three schools, one of which is a Roman Catholic primary school, Sacriston Academy and Fyndoune Community College, a secondary school.
Sacriston Primary School
Sacriston Primary School opened on 1 September 2014 when, after a public consultation, the junior school closed and the infant school extended their age range and changed their name to Sacriston Primary School.
The junior school was a school that has been quoted by Ofsted as having "a well deserved reputation for being inclusive, friendly and welcoming....The school excels in the personal development of its pupils and the high quality of care, guidance and support it provides."
A new health centre, which includes a dental practice as well as a GP surgery, was officially opened by Sir Bobby Robson in 2008. This facility was constructed on the site of the village's former swimming baths, which closed in the 1990s.
In July 2009 the Northern Integrative Health Practice (NIHP Sacriston Practice) opened in the vacated GP surgery building on Sacriston Crossroads. Offering services that complement traditional healthcare, the newly renovated building will also include an out-patients centre for Sunderland Eye Infirmary from January 2010.
- Melvyn Betts (born 1975), ex Durham, Warwickshire and Middlesex cricketer, born in Sacriston.
- Ian Hunter (cricketer) (born 1979), ex Durham and now Derby cricketer, educated at Fyndoune Community College, Sacriston.
- Wendy Craig (born 1934), English actress, born in Sacriston
- Sir Bobby Robson (1933–2009), football player and manager, born in Sacriston.
- Kevan Jones (born 1964), Member of Parliament for the area, lives in Sacriston, where he also has his constituency office