Cash boost kickstarts battle for memorial to miners killed at pits

FUNDING FILLIP -- (from left) Coun John Wilmot, Sharon Severn, of Rolls-Royce, Barrie Lewis, Nina Dauban, chief executive of Nottinghamshire Community Foundation and Coun Mick Murphy with the cheque in front of the town's mining statue -- DISPIC NHUD12-2150-1.
FUNDING FILLIP -- (from left) Coun John Wilmot, Sharon Severn, of Rolls-Royce, Barrie Lewis, Nina Dauban, chief executive of Nottinghamshire Community Foundation and Coun Mick Murphy with the cheque in front of the town's mining statue -- DISPIC NHUD12-2150-1.
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A HIGHLY-praised campaign backed by the Dispatch to honour miners who died at the coalface in Hucknall and the surrounding area has received a welcome financial boost.

A cheque for just over £500 has been received for the enterprising project from the grant-making Nottinghamshire Community Foundation.

A campaign has been launched for a memorial plaque or stone to be installed on the site of the iconic miners’ statue on Station Road, Hucknall.

It all started when former miner Barrie Lewis, of Hucknall, approached the Dispatch about the idea.

Barrie’s father, Lawrence, was killed in an accident at the former Hucknall ‘Top Pit’ on Watnall Road on Christmas Eve 1960 while only in his thirties.

The Dispatch was happy to throw its weight behind his suggestion for the plaque or memorial, backed by a book featuring the names of those killed at local mines including the two Hucknall Collieries or at Linby, Bestwood, Newstead and Annesley Pits.

Readers were invited to submit information about loved ones who gave their lives ‘in the pursuit of coal’.

Dispatch deputy editor Martin Hutton said: “Many people who lost their fathers or other relatives in the mining industry came forward to share in the project.

“Over a period of months, they recounted the moving tragedies of those concerned.”

Much research material needed to be worked through to pinpoint local pitmen who died at the coalface. As a result, dozens of names have been received for inclusion.

In the early years of the Dispatch, we reported on the deaths of four miners in a terrible accident at Hucknall ‘Bottom Pit’ — and the especially poignant story of a 14-year-old Hucknall boy who died while employed on the coalface.

Ashfield District Council’s deputy leader, Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, has taken an active part in the campaign.

He said: “Hucknall’s mining heritage should never be forgotten. The industry played a key role in the history of the town and I think the proposed plaque is an ideal way to honour those who lost their lives getting coal for us.”

The foundation’s chief executive, Nina Dauban, handed over the cheque to Barrie on the site of the miners’ statue.

Nina said the foundation was a ‘catalyst for change in Nottinghamshire’.

She added: “We enable individuals and businesses to support their own specific local causes and, in doing so, to invest in the future of their communities.

“We act as a bridge between those who need financial support and those who want to offer financial assistance.”

Businesses which operate funds through the foundation include Hucknall’s top employer, Rolls-Royce.

Barrie said he hoped the grant would spearhead other donations towards the plaque project, which would cost at least £10,000.

Coun Mick Murphy, a Hucknall Conservative member of Notts County Council, said he wished to make a donation to the fund from a pot which councillors receive for deserving causes in their communities.