Are you related to these 29 Derbyshire men who died in pit tragedies?

A poignant memorial to remember miners who lost their lives in disasters at Markham Colliery is taking shape.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 7:00 am

The Walking Together memorial will eventually include 106 life-size steel statues in memory of all the men who died in three accidents at the pit in 1937, 1938 and 1973.

So far, a total of 77 figures have been officially unveiled at the site of the £188,000 memorial at Markham Vale business park near Chesterfield.

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Pictured are six men who died in disasters at Marham Colliery. Top row left to right: Clifford Brooks, William Pickering, Rowe Kirk; bottom row left to right: Frank Jones, Joseph Hibbard and Fred Taylor.

Now, a search is underway to find relatives of the remaining 29 miners who will each have a statue dedicated to them.

Sandra Struggles, who is part of the Walking Together project, said: “It’s vitally important that our mining heritage and what tragically happened to all those men isn’t forgotten.

“We’re absolutely delighted the memorial is taking shape and nearing completion – it is very special.

“We are now keen to trace relatives of the 29 men so that when the Covid-19 virus finally leaves us we can once again hold commemorative events and take them on a walk around the site as well as getting any additional information about the men for the Markham Colliery Story Mine website.”

The Walking Together memorial.

Each statue of the Walking Together memorial – which has been designed by artist Stephen Broadbent – symbolises a miner’s journey to the pit.

The figures carry tags with the names of the miners, along with their ages and job roles.

Markham Vale business park was developed by Derbyshire County Council on the site of the former colliery.

Councillor Barry Lewis, the council’s leader, said: “Although the landscape looks very different, Markham Vale is a hive of industry and employment today just as it was back when the pit stood there, and it’s important we don’t forget the area’s roots.”

Relatives of miners visited the memorial before the pandemic.

Coun Tony King, the council’s cabinet member for clean growth and regeneration, added: “The Markham Vale Walking Together memorial serves as a permanent reminder of the area’s strong mining heritage and honours all the miners who tragically lost their lives.

“Currently 77 figures are in place and we continue to fundraise to ensure all 106 men are commemorated.

“We’d love to hear from the families and relatives of the brave men who lost their lives so we can share our tribute with them.”

The three tragedies at Markham Colliery devastated many Derbyshire families and communities.

This collage was made and donated to the Markham Vale Heritage Group by Markham Vale company Noonah. It shows people waiting for news in the pit yard after the 1938 disaster and is made up of pictures of all the men killed in the three disasters.

On January 21, 1937, an underground explosion occurred at the pit, claiming the lives of nine men.

On May 10, 1938, 79 miners died and 40 were seriously injured in a second explosion at the site.

Referring to that disaster, Ms Struggles said: “All 79 men who died on that dreadful day were buried on the same day in 13 cemeteries.

“The accident wrecked the lives in 17 village communities, and left 62 widows and 83 children without their dads.”

The Derbyshire Times covered the tragedy in a so-called ‘Black Friday’ edition on Friday, May 13, 1938, reporting: “Throughout the day, and all night, the work of recovering the bodies went on, and the hushed crowd, fearful of the worst almost from the beginning, watched the shapeless, blanket-covered burdens brought out in ones and twos.

“Each death has brought sudden anguish.”

On July 30, 1973, 18 miners lost their lives and 11 others suffered serious injuries in the third disaster at the colliery when a mechanical brake failed on a lift carrying them to the coalface.

Are you relatives of any of these 29 men? If so, contact arts company Beam, which is involved in the Walking Together memorial, by calling 07718564376 or emailing [email protected]

Henry Chapman, aged 48, of North Wingfield, died in the 1973 disaster

Frank Stone, aged 53, of Danesmoor, died in the 1973 disaster

Jan Kaminski, aged 58, of Pilsley, died in the 1973 disaster

Lucjan Plewinsky, aged 59, of Hasland, died in the 1973 disaster

Wilfred Rodgers, aged 59, of Spital, died in the 1973 disaster

Charles Turner, aged 60, of Clay Cross, died in the 1973 disaster

Alfred White, aged 57, of Stretton, died in the 1973 disaster

Clarence Palmer, aged 39, of Hollingwood, died in the 1938 disaster

Fred Monk, aged 60, of Hollingwood, died in the 1938 disaster

George Whitley, aged 34, of Staveley, died in the 1938 disaster

Frank Jones, aged 33, of Staveley, died in the 1938 disaster

David Bann, aged 54, of Bolsover, died in the 1938 disaster

Mark Richards, aged 31, of Bolsover, died in the 1938 disaster

Albert Bell, aged 33, of Staveley, died in the 1938 disaster

Joseph Lilley, aged 30, of Staveley, died in the 1938 disaster

William Pickering, aged 24, of Staveley, died in the 1938 disaster

George Cowley, aged 38, of Shuttlewood, died in the 1938 disaster

Robert Gregson, aged 36, of Shuttlewood, died in the 1938 disaster

Alfred Garland, aged 52, of Brimington, died in the 1938 disaster

John Hadley, aged 32, of Stanfree, died in the 1938 disaster

Joseph Hibbard, aged 51, of Barlborough, died in the 1938 disaster

Rowe Kirk, aged 60, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Felix Linathan, aged 48, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Arthur Roper, aged 61, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Matthew Williams, aged 36, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Redvers Baden Whitehead, aged 37, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Samuel Salt, aged 41, of Duckmanton, died in the 1938 disaster

Clarence Silcock, aged 42, of Carr Vale, died in the 1938 disaster

Fred Taylor, aged 53, of Poolsbrook, died in the 1938 disaster

For more information about Markham Colliery and the miners who lost their lives, visit markhamstorymine.org

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