Remembering those who died in borough pit disaster

A community will come together this weekend for a massive milestone commemoration of a notable pit tragedy in the borough.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 10:56 am
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 12:03 pm
On the day of the pit disaster

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out on Sunday to remember the 10 lives lost in the Golborne mining disaster 40 years ago.

As befits a major anniversary organisers are hoping it will be a high-profile affair, with a parade led by a brass band through the town’s streets before a memorial church service and a reunion afterwards.

The Bishop of Liverpool and the mayors of Wigan and St Helens will be there and Jo Platt, who raised the matterin Parliament this week and got an expression of sympathy from the prime minister, is also attending.

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The anniversary will recall the dreadful day in March 1979 when there was an underground explosion in the pit.

Golborne Ex-Miners, who work to keep the memory of the area’s colliery past alive, have sold more than 3,000 badges to customers far and wide to mark the milestone.

And ahead of the anniversary they have been speaking about local history to both primary and secondary school pupils in Golborne as well as putting on an exhibition of colliery memorabilia in the library which runs until Easter.

Eric Foster, secretary of the organisation, said: “We’ve been having processions every five years since the 20th anniversary. It has become a real tradition in Golborne.

“This is a bit more significant this year because it is still within living memory. The families are here and we’re still here so we thought we would make it really special.

“People are coming from far and wide. The two daughters of John McKenna, one of those who died, are coming from Australia and we’ve sold badges in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the south of England and Wales.

“It’s very important to remember and preserve the memory of the way of life in the pits as best we can.

“We’re committed to the memory of the 10 lads who were killed and families greatly appreciate what we are doing.”

Marchers and watchers alike should congregate outside the Queen Anne pub from around 1.30pm, with the procession beginning at 2pm.

The service at St Thomas’ Church will start around 2.30pm and after that mining families and ex-workers will come together once again at All Saints Catholic Club.

The ex-miners have been fund-raising for the 40th anniversary for several years with events including musical evenings.

Mr Foster said memory of the area’s industrial past was in danger of fading and spoke of the enormous impact ending mining for coal in Golborne had.

He said: “The pit employed 800 men and women. People were coming and going 24/7, businesses and pubs were thriving. I’ve lost count of how many things have gone; pubs, clubs, tobacconists where miners would buy chewing tobacco, pie shops.

“Since the colliery shut down the heart has gone out of Golborne. It has become like many places, a ghost town.

“What we’re trying to do is put something back into Golborne.”

The 40th anniversary of the Golborne pit disaster takes place on Sunday.