New plan to create memorial to the 139 who died in Thornhill mining disaster

A new campaign has been launched to create a lasting memorial to the 139 men and boys who died in one of Britain’s worst coal mining tragedies.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 7:00 am
Pictured from the left are Andy Hutchinson, Graham Coates, Lindsey Coates and Shaun Maddox, of the Thornhill Mining Memorial Group

The Thornhill Mining Memorial Group has planning permission for a permanent memorial in Rectory Park, Thornhill, but needs to raise £10,000 to make it happen.

Before the pandemic there were rival bids to create the memorial, with Kirklees Council backing a £40,000 project for Longcauseway in Dewsbury town centre.

Another group, based in Thornhill, said the memorial had to be in Thornhill where the miners and their families had lived and died.

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Now the council-backed scheme appears to have been dropped amid large-scale regeneration plans for Dewsbury town centre and Thornhill Mining Memorial Group is pushing ahead.

It is around two decades since the late Herbert Wood, a former Thornhill miner, first launched a campaign for a memorial to those who died in the explosion at The Combs Colliery on July 4, 1893.

Out of the 139 who died, 46 were under 16 and seven were only 12 years old. All the victims were put in unmarked graves in Thornhill Parish Church during a mass burial.

Shaun Maddox, chairman of the Thornhill Mining Memorial Group, said: “We have planning permission, a memorial licence and a location and it’s not going to cost the £40,000 of the town centre scheme.

“We need to raise £10,000, that’s to erect it and make sure there is future provision to maintain it going forward.”

The memorial will be a half pit wheel sunk into the ground standing 1.8 metres tall. The wheel was salvaged from Denaby Main Colliery in South Yorkshire and is in storage.

The names of those who died in The Combs disaster will be listed along with other Thornhill miners killed doing their jobs.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations at https://gofund.me/2345121b.