Sculpture commemorates Chesterton mining disaster

A four-metre steel sculpture has been installed in Chesterton to commemorate the mining disaster that struck the community 81 years ago.

The memorial installation, located at Castle Street in Chesterton, was developed in recognition of the Holditch Colliery disaster; a coal mining accident that occurred on 2nd July 1937, in which 30 men died and eight were injured as a result of a fire and subsequent explosions.

The artwork, which is formed from galvanised mild steel plate on a raised brick plinth, was designed by local enterprise PM Training based on an archive image of one of the safety teams. It is accompanied by a plaque, which illustrates the history along with the names of the miners who lost their lives. The installation will be complemented by a wildflower meadow.

PM Training apprentices Liam Robinson, 18, and Luke Steadman, 17, played a major role in the construction of the sculpture. Liam commented: “It was a fascinating experience. It took a month to complete and we faced some interesting challenges along the way, but we loved learning about the history surrounding the piece.”

51-year-old Artworks Project Manager Phil Brown, who oversaw the creation at the PM Training Artworks studio in Chesterton, said: “It’s great for the lads to be able to walk past and see the impact their work has had. Not only have they been able to commemorate the victims of a mining accident that affected many families in the area, but they have helped the locals acknowledge the industrial heritage of Chesterton.”

Staffordshire-based Realise charity and Red Industries Landfill Communities Fund financed the project, which was a collaboration between PM Training, Aspire Housing and Ibstock Brick, with the support of local councillors, the Locality Action Partnership (LAP) and Respect Chesterton.

Holditch Colliery, also known as Brymbo Colliery, opened in 1912. It was located around two miles north-west of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Formerly the main employer in Chesterton, the colliery employed 1,500 men and mined ironstone in addition to coal. With varying amounts of coal coming out of the colliery per year, in 1947 it hit 400,000 tonnes.

Between 1949 and 1967 eleven more deaths were recorded. Most of these were due to roof falls. Despite heavy investment in the 1960s and 1970s, the colliery closed down in 1990. The site of Holditch Colliery is now a business park.