Scooter rider’s tribute to Hapton Valley Pit disaster dead

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A Burnley scooter enthusiast whose uncle was killed in the Hapton Valley Pit disaster aged just 16 has immortalised the tragedy in paint.

Ronnie Cheetham had his classic Vespa scooter sprayed with a mural remembering the men who died in the town’s worst ever mining disaster more than half a century ago.

The 46-year-old wanted to honour his uncle Ronnie Anthony Taylor and 18 other miners who lost their lives when an explosion ripped through mine in March 1962.

Ronnie, who is a member of the Cheeky Northern Monkeys Scooter Club, had images of local pit workers including Ken Royal and Dennis “The Hard Rock Ripper” Cawtherley sprayed on the vehicle

The mural features a roll call of the dead from Hapton Vallery Colliery as well as haunting mining iconography.

The artwork also contains the Miners’ Prayer and stirring words from the song Working Man with the line “In the dark recess of the mines, where you age before your time.”

Ronnie, of Palatine Square, said: “The artist has done an amazing job. I cried when I saw it. It is very personal to me.

“It is quite emotional and has brought back many memories and tears to people’s eyes.

“My family love it and I have had nothing but positive comments about it. I think it is a great tribute to the mining community and I hope others do too.”

The horrific tragedy happened on the morning of March 22nd when an explosion tore through the 140-yard Number 2 Union seam at the colliery around 9-45am.

Sixteen men were killed instantly by the blast and another three men died from their injuries in hospital in one of Burnley’s blackest days.

Ronnie, of Palatine Square, said: “My uncle, who I am named after, Ronnie Anthony Taylor was just 16 at the time. He was late for his shift and my Great Nana said for him not to go.

“But he made it just in time and grinned at the guy who was going to take his place. He went to work and he never came home.

“He was killed in the disaster that day. There is a guy who comes up every year and he apologies for swapping with my Uncle Ronnie.”

He took the scooter along to the memorial service to mark the 52nd anniversary of the tragedy at Burnley Cemetery.

He thanked Jack Nadin for supplying the pictures of Burnley miners which went into the final scooter artwork.