Doxford and Silksworth

Coal trucks and shopping trolleys in County Durham

About This Project

In the East Durham villages of Doxford and Silksworth mining was at the heart of the community for generations. Today the colliery is gone. The church is seldom packed. But on Good Friday 2015 the pews had been removed from St Matthews to accommodate a great gathering of the community. It was a rare gathering of children and senior citizens, teachers and shop workers, church and community. Most people who came had rarely been in the church before except perhaps for a funeral. But on this One Friday they came to take part in a retelling of the Easter story.

The story of this One Friday began six weeks earlier, at the beginning of Lent, when representatives of fourteen community groups gathered in the church for the launch of the project. They included local schools, youth groups, and businesses. The Mothers Union sent a representative, and so did the ex-miners’ social club. The local ministers had worked and cajoled to get everyone there, using their contacts in the community.

Each of the fourteen groups was given a theme based on part of the Good Friday story. The Community Drop-In was given the theme of Fear of the Future, based on Jesus pray in the garden of Gethsemane. The youth club took Mercy, based on the moment when Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross. And the toddler group took the theme of Family, based on Jesus final words to his mother and best friend.

Through the six weeks of Lent the groups were asked to express the themes in their own unique way. Taking inspiration from the area’s mining history, they decided to use coal trucks as the focus of creativity. Morrison’s supermarket lent 14 shopping trolleys, which were converted temporarily into coal trucks to help tell the story. Nobody knew whether the project would take off, or what others would bring to it.

On Good Friday the fourteen coal trucks were reunited. The groups had worked with energy and imagination to explore the Bible story and it’s themes. The contemporary Stations of the Cross were used to re-tell the story of the first Good Friday in a unique way – the community receiving the story, then re-interpreting it back to the church. The coal trucks made up an exhibition representing every part of the community. Together they were used to retell the Good Friday story in a way that was unique, deeply moving and thoroughly contextual.

The local media loved the One Friday project for its energy and originality. They covered it from start to finish. For the churches, it was a chance to connect with the villages in a new way. And for the community, it was an opportunity to gather, to play and plan and be creative together, and all in the context of retelling the Good Friday story for a new age.