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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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