Artwork to revive past

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Markham Colliery’s mining heritage will be celebrated through an exciting new artwork at Derbyshire County Council’s flagship regeneration scheme.

Mining ended at Markham Colliery, near Bolsover, in 1993 after 111 years of coal production.

The county council is investing £77m in the site, now known as Markham Vale, with the long-term aim of creating around 5,000 jobs for local people.

The site’s redevelopment – which includes the creation of junction 29A for access from the M1 – is reaping rewards with an increasing number of companies moving to Markham Vale, which was granted Enterprise Zone status by the Government earlier this year.

And the county council is planning a permanent reminder of the area’s strong mining heritage for generations to come, which will honour the 97 miners who lost their lives in two Markham mining disasters in 1938 and 1973.

A new artwork called ‘Walking Together’ is to be built in a £188,000 scheme. It will provide a walking tour of Markham’s mining heritage in the form of 100 steel figures on a route through the site, symbolising the walk to and from the pit head by miners.

Each two-metre-high figure will carry a number of mine tags commemorating the thousands of local people who earned their living down the mines.

And the tags will trigger a different piece of information – including video, audio and written works – via apps and weblinks through mobile phones and hand held devices.

These will include interviews with local historians, accounts of mining disasters, and GPS-generated maps of tunnels running beneath the feet of visitors.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We’re committed to making sure Markham Vale provides employment for generations to come and this artwork will celebrate its proud past.

“Almost every family in the surrounding area will have someone who earned their living down the pits, or know someone who did, and the artist will be working closely with the local community to involve them in the creation of ‘Walking Together’.

“We want to create a tribute which brings together their mining experiences and is enjoyable and educational for visitors and schoolchildren.

“The trail of 100 walking steel figures will symbolise the miners’ walk to the pit and back, connecting Duckmanton to the heart of Markham Vale.”

The county council has appointed artist Stephen Broadbent to create the Walking Together memorial. Consultations will begin with local communities in October to finalise the detailed design.

Grants and sponsorship will be sought to meet the cost of the installation works which are expected to start early in 2013.