Horden miner sculpture with heart torn out unveiled

Section of Ray Lonsdale sculpture, Marra
Image caption The sculpture's torn out heart is meant to illustrate the death of mining communities

A sculpture of a miner with his heart torn out has been unveiled in a former East Durham pit village.

The nine-foot-tall "Marra" is intended to illustrate the demise of mining communities.

Bought for £19,000 by Horden Parish Council, it attracted interest from potential buyers around the region even before it was finished.

Artist Ray Lonsdale said he had been "dithering around" with the piece until his wife told him to "get on with it".

Image caption Ray Lonsdale's 9ft sculpture has been unveiled in Horden village

Horden Colliery, which closed in 1987, was one of the biggest mines in the country, employing more than 4,000 men at the height of its output. The seams mined at the pit extended out under the North Sea.

Lonsdale is also known for his £85,000 sculpture of a British soldier erected in Seaham last year to commemorate the outbreak of World War One.

He has previously said he was inspired by a news story about former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

'Looking forward'

"There was a news report about how they were trying to raise a statue to Margaret Thatcher down in Westminster for all the good she did for the country and I thought, 'well, that's not the way it's seen up here'," he said.

Parish councillor June Clark said the sculpture - also known as "I Ain't Gonna Work On Maggie's Farm No More" - would "channel interest" into the area and encourage tourism.

"It's trying to use our heritage to look forward and to regenerate the place," she said.

Baroness Thatcher engendered strong feelings in the region, although Berwick Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has attributed her political awakening to the former prime minister.

She has said she "sparked something" in her 10-year-old self "which has never gone away".

Image caption Artist Ray Lonsdale said his wife had encouraged him to "get on with it or shut up about it" when he was making the sculpture

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