A crowd in excess of 250 people turned out to witness the dedication ceremony of a scuptured memorial to coal mining in the village of Methley.
It was Saturday 24th June and to start it off the early arrivals were treated to a musical selection by the Yorkshire Imperial (Urquhart Travel) Brass Band, which seemed to capture the mood of the day perfectly.
The idea of commissioning such a memorial was the brainchild of the late Rev’d Peter Garland who was at that time Chairman of the Methley Residents Association. The project was then carried forward by a small but determined group of Kevin Toft, Peter Bell, May Walker, Vera Garland, Maria Melton and Bill Thackray to this dedication conclusion. Invited guests included former Manager, Ronnie Lewis along with former management and trades union colleagues at Savile Pit.
Before introducing Colin Burgon MP to accept the memorial on behalf of the village, Bill Thackray acknowledged the contribution made by the Coalfield Regeneration Trust who funded the scheme. Other contributions by Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire Imps Band, Methley Ex-Servicemen’s Club, the Memorial Group and perhaps most importantly the part played by sculptor Harry Malkin, himself a former coal miner were remembered. Bill emphasised the importance of recording and remembering the past in mediums such as this memorial in order to stimulate the sense of belonging and pride in ones heritage for future generations.
In officially opening the memorial, MP Colin Burgon congratulated everyone involved with the project emphasising the contribution made by coal miners over the years. He especially commended the way that the community pulled together during the last miners strike.
He suggested that the known reserves of coal in this country may one day again be needed and obtained with advances in modern extractive technology. He stressed that a younger generation would now be able to remember their mining roots with the completion of this magnificent memorial.
A blessing, offering thanks to the community spirit within this mining village which is still evident and a prayer to the former miners who worked in the industry was offered up by the Rev’d Ruth Crompton. shared by all who were there.
After the formalities, refreshments, reminiscences and the shaking of hands were the order of the day in the Ex-Servicemens club and then visitors were invited to an exhibition in the village Centre.
The village Archive Group had put on view an extensive display of local mining photographs, audio and cinematic memorabilia, along with items of mining history capturing the interest of all – former miners and villagers alike.
Former pits at Methley were:- Savile, Newmarket, Methley Junction, Foxholes and the Parlour pit in addition to earlier small pits.