Title: Memorial Service to Thomas Hepburn at Heworth Churchyard
Reference Number: GL000703
Item Description: Thomas Hepburn, born in Pelton in 1796, founded the Northern Union of Pitmen in 1831. In March 1831, 20,000 miners gathered at Black Fell, between Birtley and Gateshead, to discuss striking. They were complaining about the ‘bond’ system, by which they were contracted to a ‘Master’ in return for a nominal fee. Anyone breaking the bond was liable to arrest.
Hepburn led his miners into a strike resulting in some concessions being made. He became a full time union official. However, after another confrontation in May of 1832, the union crumbled and leaders of the strike were made scapegoats, including Thomas Hepburn himself, who was subsequently banned from the coalfield
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