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Video: Memorial following pit disaster in Derbyshire

A memorial service has taken place today to mark forty years since a pit disaster which claimed the lives of eighteen men in north Derbyshire.

Relatives and colleagues gathered at the site of pit shaft three of Markham Colliery to unveil a commemorative stone. It was there four decades ago that a brake on a cage lowering them to the coalface failed. Here's Martin Fisher.

Memorial unveiled at Markham ceremony

A stone is unveiled for the Markham memorial
Wreaths are laid at the service

The first two figures in a memorial to miners who lost their lives down a Derbyshire pit have been unveiled during an event to mark the 40th anniversary of one of the county's worst mining tragedies.

Eighteen miners died and 11 others suffered serious injury when the mechanical brake on a lift carrying them to the coalface failed at Markham Colliery on July 30, 1973.

It was the third disaster at the colliery, following accidents in 1937 and 1838, with a combined total of 106 miners losing their lives.

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Photographer recalls Markham tragedy

A photographer who worked during the Markham mining tragedy has told ITV Calendar of his memories.

"As Area Photographer for the NCB (British Coal), I received a telephone call on the morning of 30th July 1973, asking me to go to Markham Colliery, as there had been a serious accident underground. (Specialist photographic equipment was always required to take photographs underground).

"On my arrival at No. 3 shaft, it was obvious that a major incident had occurred; the roof of the winding engine house was badly damaged, a gaping hole was plain to see. I was asked to join a group of people going below ground - to get there we all collected at the adjacent shaft top to descend into the mine.

"Being aware that the accident had involved the fall of a cage carrying men down the No 3 shaft, climbing into the cage to enter this adjacent shaft gave us all a rather strange, nervous feeling!

"Imagine the heightened worries when the operating signals to lower us into the mine did not work, and we were all asked to leave the cage whilst the signals were checked out! This took only minutes, and we once again entered the cage to descend to the site of the accident.

"By this time of course, the work of the mines rescue team had been completed, and all the casualties had been removed to hospital. As I recall, the cage at the bottom of the shaft consisted of three decks, and the lowest deck had been badly crushed when it hit the bottom of the shaft.

"Other photographs were taken on the surface of the colliery, showing the damage to the winding house, and photos inside the house were used in the inquiry that followed."

– Paul Horswill
Central

Colliery disaster site to have memorial revealed

A Derbyshire Colliery, where 106 miners died in three separate tragedies, is to have the first part of a memorial unveiled in a ceremony today.

Forty years on from the last disaster, in which 18 people died and 11 others were injured, Derbyshire County Council, Staveley Town Council and Alkane Energy have organised a service to honour the miners who died.

There will also be a commemorative artwork called ‘Walking Together’, installed to symbolise the miners’ journey down to the coalface.

There are many great tales of camaraderie and lasting friendships formed down the mine, but there were also some instances of terrible tragedy where people went to work and never came back.

This memorial and our Walking Together artwork will ensure there are permanent reminders on site to the miners who lost their lives in the three Markham tragedies.

– Councillor Joan Dixon, Derbyshire County Council

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Central

Memorial unveiling at mining tragedy site

A memorial marking the 40th anniversary of one of Derbyshire’s worst mining tragedies will be unveiled today.

Eighteen miners died and 11 were seriously injured when the brakes on the lift that was carrying them down to the coalface at Markham Colliery failed.

Markham Colliery after it closed Credit: ITV News Central

The site of the old colliery is currently part of an on-going regeneration scheme, but the new occupants of the land have made space for a commemorative stone, which will be revealed later.

In total, 106 miners died at the mine, in three separate tragedies.

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