Critique of Mine Disaster Art

A MINER’S son has hit out at plans for a memorial to the hundreds of men and boys who lost their lives in Bolton’s worst pit disaster. Westhoughton Town Council has commissioned artist Jane Robbins to sculpt a tribute to the 344 miners who were killed in the Pretoria Pit disaster on December 21, 1910. Ms Robbins has been asked to create a bronze statue depicting a miner, crouched on a stone plinth with a lamp and a pick lying beside him.

But David Wilkinson, whose father worked in pits across the Westhoughton area for 42 years, says his dad would be disappointed by the statue. He said: “My dad started in the pits in the 1920s. He would have a pick and a shovel and have to lie on his side picking away for hours on end. It was a hard hard job.”

“From what I have seen I am very disappointed. This statue doesn’t convey a miner. He just looks like a nerd, not a miner.

“It also needs to tell the story of the disaster. It wasn’t just the men and boys who died it was the women and girls who lost sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers. The disaster destroyed this town. It had a greater impact here than World War One.”

Cllr Wilkinson, who represents Westhoughton South on Bolton Council, said he was disappointed the public were not offered the opportunity to consult on the plans.

He said: “I think different proposals should have gone on display for people in the town to comment on them. There are still a lot of people in the town who have connections to mining who would have liked to contributed to the memorial.”

Cllr David Chadwick, who sits on the town council, said: “Cllr Brian Clare, who sits on the town council and is a local expert on the disaster, has told us this is an accurate depiction of a miner from 1910. However, if Cllr Wilkinson can prove otherwise then I’d be happy to see it.

“Our plans to create this memorial have been well documented in The Bolton News over the last two years and if anyone had contacted us to contribute we would have welcomed their suggestions.

“We are trying our best to create a fitting tribute to the miners who lost their lives, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster.”


About this entry