Former miners’ group from Barnsley aiming to raise £130,000 for commemoration statue

A statue to commemorate the oaks Colliery Mining Disaster of 1866
A statue to commemorate the oaks Colliery Mining Disaster of 1866

It was recognised as the world’s worst mining disaster when it occurred in 1866.

Now former South Yorkshire miners from the People and Mining group are aiming to raise funds to have a memorial put up for the 150th anniversary of The Oaks Colliery Disaster near Barnsley.

In the tragedy 361 Men and Boys lost their lives. To date it remains the worst mining disaster in England.

Bill Shaw of the People and Mining group along with others is keen that England has the memorial in place, as he said Scotland and Wales already have National memorials to their worst mining disasters.

He said: “This needs to change. December 12 marks the 150th anniversary of this terrible tragedy and we should not let this occasion pass by unnoticed. This was not only a local disaster for the People of Barnsley and surrounding area’s, it was a national disaster and we feel the event should be marked with a suitable memorial.”

He added: “This is our chance to pay tribute to the 361 Men and Boys who perished on that fateful day and at the same time leave a lasting memorial to remind future generations of the true price of coal.”

The total cost of the memorial is £130,000 and so far £88,000 has been raised.

Bill said the group had been refused National lottery funding for the memorial and therefore had to raise funds by other means.

“We have a design for the memorial (pictured right), which is being produced by Graham Ibbeson who is a local and nationally renowned sculptor,” said Bill.

“Graham’s great great grandfather was one of the unfortunate victims. Graham has produced several public bronze sculptures which are scattered across the country, including Laurel and Hardy, Dickie Bird and Les Dawson, to name a few.”

“Graham has kindly offered his time free of charge. The memorial will be made of cast bronze, be about four metre’s high and names of the victims will be on the plinth.” People and Mining is a registered charity, Charity No 1166151.