Da Said “Men Don’t Cry” Statue
Statue Houghton-le-Spring Tyne And Wear

Da Said “Men Don’t Cry” Statue

Statue In Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne And Wear

A poignant tribute to the mining community in the distinctive style of Ray Lonsdale.

At first, it may be hard to spot Da said “Men Don't Cry” statue as it's at a busy junction and there is lots going on around especially if you are the driver. It is obvious though, once you know where to look! It is worth parking up and having a closer look at this marvelous Corten steel sculpture by Ray Lonsdale who is known for Tommy AKA Eleven O One at Seaham.

First, though a little history that will explain the significance.

Hetton le hole got its name because it has Hetton Burn flowing through the area and it is in Houghton Vale, which is the hole bit.

Coal has been mined in the area since Roman times in what was called drift mining where coal was dug out in horizontal tunnels. By the 14th century, mining had started to use vertical shafts.

In 1819 Hetton Coal Company was formed and the first shaft sunk in 1820 without really knowing if there was coal here. There was, and a wagonway was built to transport the coal to the River Wear at Sunderland.

George Stephenson pops up here and it is understood he developed (by 1822) the first locomotive on tracks using steam to drive it up hills with carts laden with coal. Gravity and a good brake were used to roll down the hills.

At nearby Hetton Lyons Country Park (The site of the former colliery) there is a Locomotive commemoration piece, that is worthy of a visit. Designed and made by Ray and his son Sam Lonsdale called Loco #1.

There were many mines in the area and many accidents and deaths. It was an extremely tough life. In 1842 a law was passed that women and girls could not work down mines, nor boys under 10 yrs.

This statue Da Said"Men Don't Cry" is depicting a boy of about 10 circa 1860.

He looks smart with a cap, jacket, and trousers held up with rope. He is holding his bait and lamp.

A bonny lad on his first day working down the mine. The Paternal figure gives reassurance with a hand on the shoulder

Ray captures the sentiment perfectly with the poem.

Nothing visible exists of the former mines now. But the people remember, and memories have been passed down, through the 10 or so generations since mining started here over 200 years ago.

The statue cost around £51,00, over 500 families donated £25 each, and other organisations chipped in. They formed a consortium 'Culture for Hetton' and commissioned Ray Lonsdale whose workshop is not far away in South Hetton.

It was unveiled on a cold day in April 2019 with a large crowd and many speeches

The names of the families and organisations are inscribed around the plinth. I noted there are 21 colliers listed.

It is dedicated to the children and the miners who worked and died in local colliers.

There is also a time capsule not to be opened until 2069

Ray's work has become distinctive and distinguished. He includes details such as a button undone, and the creases in the clothes. Notice the way Da's jacket falls away as he bends slightly.

Learn more about Ray Lonsdale and also check out his works on our walk around the Urban Artworks In Scarborough.

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Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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Rosalind Parker

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Da Said “Men Don’t Cry” Statue was listed in Statue // Tyne And Wear // Houghton-le-Spring