A six-metre memorial has been installed in a Leicestershire village to mark the spot where dozens died as a result of a tragic mining disaster back in 1898.
The memorial was unveiled yesterday (Sunday, April 24), by Hollywood actor Stephen Graham, who lives in Leicestershire.
It has been erected on an area of David Wilson Homes’ Grange View development, in Hugglescote. The houses are being built on the site of part of the former Whitwick Colliery, where a notorious mining tragedy happened on April 19, 1898.
It marks the spot where 35 miners were killed, when a fire broke out at the site, trapping the men underground.
The youngest was just 13, the oldest aged 63. Over ten months, 23 bodies were retrieved, but 12 were never found. They still remain underground.
“I’ve lived around these parts for a long time, and when I was asked to be involved I didn’t hesitate. The impact this disaster must have had on this community must have been devastating”, said Mr Graham ahead of the unveiling.
“For me to be a part of this is an absolute honour, and I think it’s a beautiful sculpture and a piece of design”, he added.
“Their souls are still alive within our hearts, and anyone who’s connected with any of those men you must be so proud”.
Following the memorial’s unveiling, there was a moving performance by the award-winning Desford Colliery Band – one of the best of its kind in the world.
Many descendants of the men who lost their lives, were also present on the day.
The memorial, which features the original headstock pulley wheeled from Whitwick Colliery, was made possible by thanks to a partnership between various organisations including David Wilson Homes, Barratt Homes, Hugglescote and Donington-le-Heath Parish Council, Whitwick Parish Council and Snibston Heritage Trust.
Speaking on the day, Russell Johnson, Chairman of Hugglescote Parish Council, paid tribute to the men who lost their lives as a result of the tragedy.
“The memorial provides a focus point on Grange View to remember them and provide a means of educating the generations who will live on this development, who may be unaware of the heritage of this area”, he said.
“It’s been a privilege to honour those who lost their lives in the Whitwick Colliery Disaster, as it’s such a renowned part of Leicestershire’s history”, added John Reddington, Managing Director at David Wilson Homes East Midlands.
“Our partners have worked very hard to make this memorial possible and it’s a privilege to be involved in the project”.