Communicare Cross

Introduction and Summary

St.John’s Church, Killingworth arranged the re-erection of the cross which was all that remained of the 1960’s Communicare Centre in Killingworth as a focus for Memorial activities.It was initially included as part of Great War commemoration in Killingworth and ultimately as a ‘Workers Memorial’ with a strong link to miners in a Parish once dominated by the industry.

The Cross

The original development of the ‘Killingworth Township’ included a pedestrianised centre which as well as shopping included the experimental ‘Communicare’ complex. This comprised of a sports centre, health centre, library and ecumenical church, all serviced by a multi storied car park. The complex from the 1960’s, has, however, been demolished to make way for the current town centre shopping complex and new housing. All that remains of the original complex is the cross which originally stood above the ecumenical church.

50 years after the complex was built, the cross was re-erected on the site adjoining the parish church and George Stephenson High School, together with the information board explaining it’s place in the recent history of Killingworth Parish and using it as a focus for commemoration activities.

The cross is 12 feet tall and is made of aluminium and was taken into storage by the Reverend Michael Mallison former Vicar of the Parish, whose responsibilities included the ecumenical Church of the Holy Family.

Support for its reinstatement was provided by The Sir James Knott Trust, The North East Miners Social Welfare Trust, CAPITA and North Tyneside Council.

WWI

The cross was re-erected and rededicated by Archdeacon Goeff Millar  as part of the programme of WW1 commemorative activities in North Tyneside, with support from the Mayor. It is a reminder of the 293 men linked to the Parish who fell as a result of the war and those who have fallen in more recent conflicts. The vast majority of WW1 fallen were miners.

Workers Memorial

In recent years the Vicar of St John’s has combined with workers representatives to hold annual memorial services for those who have lost their lives at work. This has included all occupations but has particular resonance in the parish where mining has been so important in its development and which has played such an important role in the industry.

Killingworth and Mining

St. John’s was a mining parish. The first shaft was sunk by the ’Grand Allies’ but by the time the church was opened in 1869, the High Pit was being used mostly for ventilation and the colliery was nearing closure in 1882. The miners were then largely employed in Burradon Colliery sunk in 1819 and at Dinnington. They also worked at the Lizzie Pit, Weetslade,opened in 1903, and other nearby collieries.

The connections are clear in the family names common to Palmersville, Westmoor and Burradon as well as Forest Hall, to where families were rehoused from the miners rows.Killingworth colliery closed  but it’s neighbour, Burradon was to go on to be the longest working colliery at it’s closure in 1975.

Conclusion

The re-erection of the ’Communicare Cross’ has provided a link with Killingworth’s past. It is a focus for commemoration of the fallen in WW1 and its impact on the community. It also provides a focus for a memorial to workers who have died and the history of the miners and their families, who remain.