The villages of Wheatley Hill, Wingate, Thornley and Ludworth all came to prominence during the Victorian coal-mining boom of the early 1800s. Until then, all had been agricultural communities in the East Durham area. The pit became the major employer and apart from the people needed to run shops, schools, police stations and public houses, all men worked at the coal mine. Except for domestic service, occasional agricultural labouring and dressmaking, there was little opportunity for paid employment for women in the early villages. The hastily built houses were always built near to the pit head which made keeping them clean a continuous battle for miner's wives. This book of over 200 photographs illustrates life and times in these former pit villages. The images have been collected together by history groups based within the communities, run by people who feel a strong need to preserve for future generations something of the life and conditions they and their forebears experienced.