Burnley to honour 'bravery and toil' of perished miners with new monument

A campaign to honour Burnley's rich mining heritage has been granted planning permission for a tribute to the hundreds of pit-workers who lost their lives working on the coalfield, having raised tens of thousands of pounds to fund the memorial.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 1:44 pm
(From left) Richard Sims, Phil Glover, Jack Nadin, and Sue Hawkins of the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund.

Having been fundraising for the past 18 months, the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund has been granted planning permission for the memorial for the town's perished miners, which will be a two metre-high and three metre-long sandstone tribute constructed on the Place De Vitry Sur Seine in front of the Central Library.

Sandstone is in keeping with other buildings in the area such as the police station and library, and the 327 names of the men and boys who perished working in Burnley's coal mines will be inscribed will be on black granite with white lettering. Those honoured will date back as far as the 1830s.

"The memorial is a tribute to all who worked in an incredible industry with comradeship second to none; where men would grapple at bare rock after roof falls with bleeding hands to save a workmate under tons of stone," said mining historian and BMMF member Jack Nadin. "An injured miner might be miles from the pit shaft, but bleeding and in pain his comrades carried him in knee-high tunnels to safety.

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

"Many other workers working in this industry suffered crippling injuries and spent a lifetime in pain," added Jack, who himself spent seven years between the ages of 16 and 23 working down the Hapton Valley Colliery. "Others spent their lives troubled with breathing difficulties struggling with coal dust-filled lungs. This monument is a tribute to them all."

Key to Burnley's development in the 18th and 19th Centuries as the town emerged as one of the world's largest producers of cotton cloth during the Industrial Revolution, the mining industry was nevertheless perilously dangerous. Workers often lost their lives in gruesome circumstances including explosions, roofs collapsing, being crushed by barrels, falling down shafts, being suffocated, getting entangled in machinery, and being scalded to death.

With the Burnley Coalfield boasting 16 pits at its peak, miners as old as 80 and as young as seven are recorded as having died at work.

A published author, Jack has spent years touring former coal mining communities in South Yorkshire, the Welsh Valleys, and the North East. Touched by the memorials in many of these mining communities and the pride in their history, Jack decided that Burnley should not forget its own past, forming the BMMF on March 22nd 2018 - the 56th anniversary of a terrible explosion at Hapton Valley Colliery in 1962 in which 16 men were killed instantly and a further 16 were seriously injured.

"We must stress that this is not a replacement for the memorial to Burnley’s worst mining disaster at Hapton Valley pit in 1962 but an addition to that, which includes all the other men and boys who died in pit accidents," said Jack. "Such bravery and toil is worthy recording again, only on battle fronts and in coal mines deep within the earth does such comradeship preserver."

Still fundraising for some artwork designed by students at Nelson and Colne College to go on the memorial and a dedication plaque thanking those who donated, the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund's work is not quite done, but they can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For more information on the Burnley Mining Memorial Fund and to make a donation, head to the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/192905974652293/ or contact Jack Nadin via email at [email protected]