Julie Cooper MP shows support for Burnley Coalfield miners' memorial

The Burnley Mining Memorial Fund raised over £500 at the Burnley May Day Festival earlier this month, with Julie Cooper MP throwing her support behind the campaign for a memorial in honour of the town's miners.

Burnley Mining Memorial Fund committee members Phil Glover (far left), Jack Nadin (second from right), and Elsie Manning (far right) with Julie Cooper MP.
Burnley Mining Memorial Fund committee members Phil Glover (far left), Jack Nadin (second from right), and Elsie Manning (far right) with Julie Cooper MP.

The campaign to commemorate the crucial role played by the area's valiant miners, who worked possibly "the worst job in the world" to fuel Burnley's growth as a cotton town in the late 1800s, has proved popular, with the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund aiming to raise £75,000 for the memorial paying tribute to the 300-plus miners who lost their lives.

The earliest reference to a miner's death on the Burnley Coalfield, which boasted 16 pits at its peak, dates back to 1601, with the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund seeking to raise the profile of the occupation and those who plied their trade in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable, which saw miners as young as seven and as old as 80 lose their lives at work.

"I am immensely privileged to represent Burnley and I regularly speak with great pride of our industrial heritage," said Julie Cooper MP. "It is a fact that in 1849 Burnley produced more cotton than any other town in the world and in these days when there is much talk of the establishment of a Northern Powerhouse I have to remind people that we were the original powerhouse of this country and indeed we made a massive contribution to the wealth of our nation.

"Coal mining was a vital component of our industrial success and it was taken for granted by pit and mill owners alike that local men would toil underground to mine coal and they did," she added. "I know from my own family history conditions for miners in those days were tough. My grandfather’s twin brother was a miner who did spells at both Hapton and Bank Hall pits. I know from him that it was a hard way to earn a living and I know that he never got over the death of some of his work mates who lost their lives in the Hapton Valley colliery disaster.

"The work was back-breaking and dangerous."

Showing her support for the memorial campaign at the May Day Festival in the town, Julie Cooper MP helped the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund raise over £500 at the event, with the group also having hosted an open meeting at the Wood End Mining Museum and planned to further involve the community as they look to apply for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

"We have other events planned in order to get the community involved, such as giving the local school kids talks and slide shows," explained the Burnley-born ex-miner and mining historian, Jack Nadin (70), who also said that local art students could contribute to some design ideas, and that the group will be organising a series of fundraisers to help with the finances.

"It is fitting that we remember all those who contributed to Burnley’s industrial heritage and I have no hesitation in giving my full support to the campaign to establish a memorial to serve as a reminder of the tremendous contribution made by local miners," Julie Cooper MP said.