From the battlefields of ancient times men have always rallied to flags, banners, religious icons etc. Used to guide soldiers towards their respective camps or to be paraded in victory, a source of pride, to nail your colours to the mast. Today people still have pride in their colours whether it is a British soldier proudly displaying their regimental colours on parade or supporters of the local football team wearing their teams shirt with pride. Being part of something and identifying with it is a human need.


In Durham in the middle of the nineteenth century miners were forming stronger unions. Fighting for safer working conditions, living wages, better housing and the establishment in general. They needed something visual to identify with, to rally around to help their fight for justice. In this climate of change we saw the birth of the lodge banners.



Each individual colliery had their own lodge banner. Although the banners were purchased through union contributions there was always a sense of pride that the banner represented the whole community not just the colliery workforce.


Unity is an occurring theme on most lodge banners mixed with political and religious subject matter. Successive Marsden lodge banners have always carried a unity theme always depicting the iconic image of Marsden rock with the adage “Firm as a rock we stand” 


There have been numerous Marsden lodge banners the first reference we can find is during the Silksworth evictions of 1891. The following abstract is from the Northern Echo Tuesday 24th February 1891 reporting on the evictions.


“A little colour was given to yesterdays proceedings by a monster procession of miners numbering some thousands arriving at Silksworth from Whitburn, headed by a brass band and a brilliant banner. They marched through the streets of the village playing a lively air, and were cheered right heartily as they went.”  


As far as we are aware there are no known photographs of this banner.


This image is of the centre panels of the second banner unfurled in 1900 showing Marsden rock with the cartouche of John Thompson who was branch secretary and checkweighman of Marsden lodge from 1880's  until death in 1926. The rear shows a portrait of Lord Robson of Jesmond who was MP for South Shields from 1895 to 1910. He was well known for having a sympathetic ear to the concerns of local mining unions. 




            


            


      

When the lodge banner was replaced in 1914 the centre panel was framed and hung in the lodge office at Whitburn. It is now in the care of Beamish museum.

On the 17th July 1914 a new banner was unfurled at the laying of the foundation stone at the aged miners homes in Harton. The Sunderland echo reported on that day  ' Showing publicly for the first time a beautiful new banner belonging to the Marsden miners. The banner displayed on one side a fine picture of the new homes in their finished state while on the other the famous Marsden Rock depicted, and it was much admired'.  

Following John Thompson death in 1926 the lodge commissioned a new banner. The back carried a portrait of Thompson with the aphorism 'faithful unto death', in recognition of his 40 years as lodge secretary. The front showing the ever present Marsden rock (firm as a rock we stand). 
 



                     



         
                     
                                       Copyright images held by the People's History Museum Manchester.                             

   



Th
e final lodge banner was commissioned circa 1952. The front carried the ever present theme of Marsden Rock and on the back a tableau of the Durham Mining Association. This is the banner that is now under the guardianship of the Marsden banner group. 

          
                                   Photographs courtesy of Roy Lambeth Durham Mining Museum



     

                                                                                          Gala Photographs



             


             

             

              
                                                     Racecourse    1950's                    

                 
                                                                       1981

                  
                                                                                              1981
               
                              The band and banner coming down Percy terrace Whitburn



                                      "The Big Meeting"  abstract of a print by Bob Oley


                                                 
                                                                                Marsden Lodge (Union dues card)   


                                                 Firm as rock we stand

South Shields born singer-songwriter and storyteller Tony Wilson wrote the lyrics to this song.

Hardy Northern sons of toil deep beneath the Earth
The sweat upon our brow shows our worth
No tinker, tailor, solider, sailor ever worked so hard
against dangers underground we're on our guard


Chorus 
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand
Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand
Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand

Standing tall by Northern shores the clifftops are our home
With everything we need we'll never roam
Steadfast pride in temperance, church and family
We'll ne'er be forgot by history

 
Chorus 
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand
Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand


Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand
Unshaken and unmoving our foundation stone is strong
A lasting mark upon the earth for ages long
Tide and time will ne'er forget bold Marsden's name
Like bright Phoebus it will beacon like flame


Chorus 
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand
Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand
Sons of Marsden and the Tyne, Firm as a rock we stand
Our work is ceaseless down the mine, Firm as a rock we stand


B Cauwood 2013 


All copyrights acknowledged were known. 

Copyright © 2013 Marsden Banner Group. 
All rights reserved. Permission granted to reproduce text for educational use only (please cite source).