Village’s tribute to pit casualties

A FITTING memorial to the 77 people who lost their lives working at Bilsthorpe colliery has been unveiled after a long campaign.

Over 160 people, including survivors of disasters and relatives of those killed, turned out to see the stone sculpture’s official launch in the village last week.

The 10ft sandstone Davy Lamp is the result of a two-year battle led by Bilsthorpe Heritage Society.

Members painstakingly researched the details of the 77, killed in accidents dating back to 1927. All have their names carved into the stone sculpture.

It was unveiled last Tuesday by Paul Smith, a survivor of the last major disaster at the pit in 1993, in which three men died, and Patricia Jennings, wife of the nephew of Patrick Kelly, who died in its first accident in 1927.

“It’s an absolutely exemplary monument and I hope it gives hope to the people who are still suffering from some of the events which took place,” said Mr Smith (40).

“It’s been a great privilege to take part and it’s also given people a day to reflect.”

The village hall on Cross Street was packed for a service before the crowd headed to the memorial for the unveiling at the junction of Crompton Road and Church Street.

Crompton View Primary School pupil Jamie Davenport (10) was also given a miner’s lamp trophy by the society after his design for the monument was chosen from among dozens of others by pupils at the school.

Said society chair Trevor Goodman: “We’re very proud of what’s been achieved and it’s so nice to see so many people turn out for it. It’s a marvellous monument.

“Since the pit’s gone there’s nothing left to mark its presence, and certainly not anything to honour the people who died; this was all about changing that.”

Also at the ceremony were relatives of Patrick Kelly, who died aged 17 in the first disaster in 1927, when a collapse of piping down a shaft killed 14 men working on the initial sinking of the pit, which eventually closed in 1997.

Said his nephew Patrick Jennings (78), himself a retired miner: “It makes you sad to think of the way it happened, but the memorial is brilliant and we’ve done all we can to support it. It’s nice to see them remembered like this.”

The £14,000 project was funded by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Local Improvement Scheme, which has also helped pay for memorials at Clipstone and Gedling.