Once the miner had become old and unable to work at the pit, he was forced to leave his tied cottage, and though he might receive something from the Permanent Relief, for many the workhouse was their only prospect. In 1896 one of the great philanthropic movements of this country took root, with the aim of providing a free house and coal supply to retired miners - a 'haven of rest'. The scheme was started by Joseph Hopper, aided by Henry Wallace, Canon Moore Ede (later Dean of Worcester) and John Wilson of the DMA. It brought together both colliery owners and miners to provide these things. The coal owners gave financial support, land and materials.
Sir A.F. Pease, when laying the foundation stones of eight houses at Randolph Colliery in 1924, said:
"There could be no finer work, surely, than to provide for the comfort and happiness of a aged miners who had spent nearly all of their lives in daily toil in that district, and other places."
The miners too contributed from their pay towards the aged miners' homes.
Although the Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes Association be an by establishing colonies in redundant colliery housing , at Haswell, Houghall and Shincliffe Bank Top, they changed to the concept of single-storied homes, either terraced or semi-detached, within the community. The homes generally comprised a bedroom, living-room-kitchen and scullery; sometimes with a front veranda on which to sit, and a lawn and back vegetable garden. A district system was also established to build and administer their homes. The district committees comprised members of the colliery unions, with a delegate to the central committee in Durham. In some cases a district might comprise a number of pits where the men had joined together to create homes for their old people. Because of the large number of delegates, meetings were usually held in the great council chamber of the DMA at Redhills, in the city.
The homes were established at more than seventy sites in the Durham coalfield. Many were built in the 1920s, and even during the 1926 strike miners and owners came together to open homes for aged miners and their wives. With the Depression, the closure of collieries and the consequent decline in income from the miners' levy, the Association suffered severe financial problems. From 1939 until 1955 no homes were built, the ageing housing stock required constant maintenance, and,as a result, the Association fell into the red. It was forced to sell off some of its homes, but it became a registered housing association in 1980, enabling it to receive Housing Corporation funding." The Association now has sheltered housing schemes and residential care homes, alongside its existing aged miners' cottages.
Opening of the aged miners' homes, Ushaw Moor, 1910. Twenty homes were erected, with funds raised by the New Brancepeth, Bearpark, and Ushaw Moor Lodges.
Durham Aged Miners Site
Established in 1898, the largest North East based retirement home provider with over 1500 homes.