Colliery disaster victims remembered

THE memory of five men who died following an explosion and fire at Sutton Colliery has been honoured at the site of the former pit - 55 years to the day since the disaster happened.

A sculpture memorial to those who died in the 1957 disaster, which is located outside the Visitor Centre at Brierley Forest Park, has been repaired after being damaged by vandals several years ago.

Fred Godber

Fred Godber

The sculpture has five figures, which represent the five miners who died, but one had its head knocked off and stolen.

Now sculptor Robert Koenig has made a new head and the newly-repaired figure was unveiled in a special ceremony on last Tuesday - the anniversary of the disaster.

Relatives of those who died were invited to the event, while there were also documents and mining memorabilia on display.

The Sutton Colliery disaster was caused by a large stone falling from the roof of the mine.

Family members  of miners that were killed in a  a Sutton mining  disaster unveils the repaired statue in Brierly park Huthwaite today from the left are Marleen Tomlinson, Robert Reeves,  Marjorie Portas nurse at the hospital Shaun Potter  Elizabeth Godberand Malcolm Godber

Family members of miners that were killed in a a Sutton mining disaster unveils the repaired statue in Brierly park Huthwaite today from the left are Marleen Tomlinson, Robert Reeves, Marjorie Portas nurse at the hospital Shaun Potter Elizabeth Godberand Malcolm Godber

It hit an electrical terminal box, causing sparks that ignited firedamp - a highly combustible mixture of gases - which had been released during the roof collapse.

This then led to a fire in which 25 miners were severely burned.

Five of these men subsequently died of their injuries.

Two of the guests invited to Tuesday’s event were Malcolm Godber (73) and his wife Elizabeth (75).

John Godber

John Godber

Malcolm’s brother John died on 9th March 1957, aged just 16, after being caught up in the explosion and fire.

Malcolm and brother Fred also worked at the pit and the tragic events of that day have lived with Malcolm ever since.

Elizabeth, of The Oval, Sutton, said of the event: “We really thought it was a nice do.

“It’s important to the families, especially for my husband because John was put in his job that day and my husband should have been doing that job when the explosion happened.”

John received a skin graft from another brother but doctors could not save him.

Fred was also caught up in the blast and was knocked over by a pit pony but not seriously injured.

He died in 2007 - 50 years to the day of the disaster.

The other miners honoured by the sculpture are W. Savage (29), Coal Getter; J.W. Betts (55), Ripper; J. Lemm (35), Shearer Assistant and L. Reeves (45), Coal Getter.