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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 08:54 GMT
New staff end pit museum threat
Ex-pitmen Stuart Davison (right) and Thomas Muncaster at Beamish Museum
The arrival of new deputies will secure the mine museum's future
The future of a County Durham pit museum which celebrates the area's mining past has been secured after new staff were recruited.

Last year, The Beamish Museum said its drift mine could close unless a former pit worker could be found.

It needed to recruit a qualified pit deputy to meet health and safety regulations and talk about what life was like in the pit.

There was a good response to their appeal and now two have been recruited.

Museum head of historic operations Jane Gibson said: "We knew last year that one of our long-serving deputies would be retiring and we started the recruitment back in the spring last year.

"And we found through the normal channels we weren't getting people. So we decided to go to the press."

Basically I think it is the job of a lifetime. I have always been in the mining environment since I was a young boy
Thomas Muncaster

She said following the publicity, they had had inquiries from as far afield as Australia.

The new pit deputies are Thomas Muncaster and Stuart Davison.

Mr Muncaster said: "Basically I think it is the job of a lifetime. I have always been in the mining environment since I was a young boy.

"Unfortunately I had to come out due to redundancy but now I have got the chance to get back in.

"That's my dream job come true."

Mr Davison said the job would involve taking visitors in and giving them an insight into mining in 1913.

He said: "I never ever thought I would see a coal seam again.

"What a challenge this is going to be for me."

Beamish is an outdoor museum where visitors can visit traditional sweet shops, banks and a pub and staff dress in traditional clothes.

Its drift mine originally opened in the 1850s and was re-opened as a tourist attraction in 1970.


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