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Mining tragedy memorial

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

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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

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