After hearing a few things lately about the Miners Hall in Leadgate I became extremely curious and decided to have a look into the history. The initial hall was inaugurated on Saturday 28 November 1884 and opened by William Jenkins J.P, the General Manager of Consett Iron Company. Initially, the building had been built by the United Free Methodist Society, Consett and Leadgate circuit as a place of worship and socialising. Unfortunately, they had been unable to keep the building going due to drastic falling numbers and a lack of finances. The building had been vacant for 12 months when the executive of the Durham Miners Association(DMA) purchased it in full.
The building was a handsome substantial building standing at the top of Watling Street and having room for up to 300 people. The DMA intended the building to be utilised as a hall for public entertainments, meetings and concerts, as well as a place, were meetings of the local miners lodges could take place. A committee of trustees was set up to oversee the running of the hall, 3 members from each of the local mines; Iveston, Medomsley and the Eden; as well as a further 3 from the nearby East Castle. Consett Iron Company also promised 2 sets each of dominoes, chess sets and draughts along with tables and all accessories needed to allow the games to be played. William Jenkins J.P. also promised a further 2 guineas from his own pocket annually to help to fund the project and the East Castle Colliery owners giving further 5 guineas to boost the initial fund.
However, it seems that all didn’t go to plan. In 1895 an auction was held in the Golden Lion, presided over by the auctioneer Thomas Shadforth, for the sale of the Hall by the DMA. The auction was held on 11th September at 4 pm. The bids came thick and fast eventually reaching £300 but the hall was unsold. Private talks were then held with potential buyers but the hall was removed from sale. I can’t say whether the hall was indeed sold at this point, but it definitely went into private hands. We know it was certainly used as a fruit shop and later Stokoe’s Joiner Shop, Stokoe’s Building’s still being the name of the buildings attached to the back of the Hall, before becoming the Eden Miners Hall.
The Eden Miners Hall became almost the centre of activity in the area, housing billiard tables, reading rooms, committee room. It was used for weddings, parties, church functions and also as a dance hall. The building had changed almost completely but still stood on the same spot in the centre of the village, at that time directly across from the Roxy Cinema. Again due to decline and the closure of the coal mines the building became little more than a shell of its former self. It did pick up again in later years to become the local youth club.
It now looks like the building will be given a new lease of life after local residents once again stepped in and saved the building for the community. I wish them the very best and hope the hall will continue to be a centre for the Leadgate community.