Chesterfield News


Markham miners remembered with memorial unveiling 80 years after 1938 tragedy

Seven new life-size steel figures have been unveiled as part of a memorial to miners who lost their lives at Markham Colliery nearly 80 years since the 1938 disaster at the site.

On 10 May 1938, 79 miners lost their lives and 40 were seriously injured in an explosion at Markham Colliery which has now been reclaimed by us and Henry Boot Developments and is home to the Markham Vale regeneration scheme.

The steel figures were unveiled as part of the ‘Walking Together’ memorial − led by Derbyshire County Council − which will eventually feature 106 figures stretching between the village of Duckmanton in Chesterfield and the former pithead.

Each figure is part of a walking trail which symbolises a miner’s journey to the pit and back home again and represents the 106 men who lost their lives in three accidents at the site.

On 21 January 1937 an underground explosion claimed the lives of nine men and 18 miners died and 11 others suffered serious injury in the third disaster at the colliery when the mechanical brake on a lift carrying them to the coalface failed on 30 July 1973.

The most recent figures have been dedicated to Arthur Henson (45) who was employed at the colliery in the role known as a ripper, Herbert Hargreaves, contractor (48) and his two sons Herbert Hargreaves Jnr, contractor (27) and Leslie Hargreaves, contractor (23), Albert Ernest Rodgers, haulage hand (19), Robert Henry Wood, haulage hand (22) and Robert Simms, contractor (56).

There are now 34 figures at the site − the first two were unveiled in 2013 to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 disaster.

Councillor Tony King, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration at Derbyshire County Council, said:

“The Walking Together memorial is a special place where the miner’s community spirit can be remembered and where families, friends and future generations can come together to pay tribute.

“Great friendships were made at the site and generations of families worked there like Herbert Hargreaves and his two sons who were lost in the explosion in 1938.

“The site is now home to 42 businesses and many new jobs have been created but it’s important that we don’t forget the site’s mining history and the incredibly brave men that worked there.”

Five of the figures have been sponsored through a grant of £7,500 awarded to the ‘Walking Together’ memorial from the Duke of Devonshire’s Charitable Trust.

Henry Boot Developments − Derbyshire County Council’s private sector property partner and AJA Architects − the designers of many buildings on Markham Vale − have sponsored the other two figures.

Each figure carries a tag with the name of one of the miners, along with their age and job role.

Relatives of the miners commemorated at the unveiling also attended the event to pay tribute along with pupils from Duckmanton Primary School who performed a song and laid flowers.

The Walking Together memorial has been designed by Cheshire-based artist Stephen Broadbent.

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