Workmates meet again 20 years on

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More than 500 former miners attended an emotional reunion at the 20th anniversary of the closure of Bilsthorpe pit.

The event held at Bilsthorpe Miners’ Welfare on Saturday has been hailed a huge sucess by organisers Alan Ward and Steve Crane.

Former miner Alan Ward 68, is a member of Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum and helped organise the big day.

He said; “It was absolutely fantastic - there were quite alot of tears shed - some of the men hadn’t seen each other since the pit closed or even longer.

“People were asking if we were going to have another one next year.”

Former employees from as far away as Australia made special effort to reunite with their old workmates and celebrate friendships forged amid danger underground.

The museum put on a display of mining memorabilia, including a board with the names of all the 77 men killed while working there.

Alan said: “The colliery was a huge part of the community and employed hundreds of people, some of whom lost their lives there and should be remembered.

“There was a disaster in 1993 when three men were killed and I knew each one of them.

“Fourteen miners died when they were sinking the shafts in 1927.

“That was the price of coal.”

There was a model of Bilsthorpe No1 headstock, a winding engine adn a cardboard replica of the 8ft sandstone memorial lamp in the memorial garden in Bilsthorpe.

A total of £1,472 raised on the night was split between Bilsthorpe Heritage centre and the Beaumont House Hospice Newark.

Bilsthorpe priest Rev Anna Alls lit three candles in a special ceremony for the men who died while working at the pit, those who had died since the closure and the surviving workers.

In its prime, around 1,200 men worked in the pit which opened in 1925 and was closed in 1997.