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New website set to unearth mining history at Markham Vale

Published: 21 November 2018

From dusty faces, holidays to Skegness and coalface training – lots of stories from Markham Colliery are being unearthed every day thanks to the launch of a new website.


Councillor Tony King with Alison Bull and Shane Cooper
Unearthing stories from Markham Colliery: (from right) Our Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration Councillor Tony King with relative and volunteer Alison Bull and relative Shane Cooper.

The Story Mine website has been set up by a team of local volunteers, including local historian Sandra Struggles and has been supported by us and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project has been funded by us alongside a £35,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Research into the lives of the thousands of local men who worked at the site between 1882 and 1993 has been carried out as part of the Story Mine project.

The new website gives details about the lives of the men who worked at the site, their jobs and the local mining community.

There are also real-life accounts of working down the pit from former miners and videos from relatives of the men who were tragically killed working at the site in the 3 major disasters in 1937, 1938 and 1973.

Shane Cooper talks about losing his father Gordon Richard Cooper in the 1973 disaster:

“On the morning of the tragic accident my father kissed my mother goodbye and then me and my sisters, he grabbed his lunchbox and left the house whistling and singing away as he walked to the pit.

“Miners innocently went to work and never came home to their families.”

Hear more about Shane’s story.

Residents will also be able to use the website to send in their stories, memories or facts and hear about the project’s latest developments, events and discoveries.

Elaine Tidd, daughter of Markham miner Keith Bigg, said:

“My father was a miner at Markham Colliery for the majority of his working life.

“I remember living so close to the mine that our house would get dusty.

“Each year we’d go on holiday to the miners’ camp at Skegness – we would see the same families that you would see all year round and it was fantastic. We’d have a cinema, ballroom, swimming and there was always a competition to enter.”

Hear more about Elaine’s story.

Markham Colliery has now been reclaimed by us and Henry Boot Developments and is home to the Markham Vale flagship regeneration scheme which is working to create 4,100 jobs for local people.

Our Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration Councillor Tony King said:

“We’re delighted to see the launch of the Story Mine website – it’s interactive, informative and an excellent place for people to share their stories of Markham Colliery.

“These stories are very important and it’s vital that we don’t forget the site’s mining history, the challenging jobs the pit workers had and the sacrifices they and their families made.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the Story Mine project – you should be very proud of what has been achieved."

Councillor King added:

“I’d also like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Lottery players for making the project possible.”

All the stories included on the website have been researched by a group of local community volunteers and this work will continue with help from members of the public.

Great strides have already been made at Markham Vale by us to remember its mining history with the permanent 'Walking Together' memorial which will eventually feature 106 figures stretching between the village of Duckmanton in Chesterfield and the former pithead which symbolises a miner’s journey to and from work and represents the 106 men who lost their lives in 3 major disasters at the site in 1937, 1938 and 1973. 

The Walking Together memorial has been designed by Cheshire-based Artist Stephen Broadbent, commissioned by arts organisation Beam, who also manage the Story Mine project on our behalf.

To find out more about The Story Mine project or the Walking Together memorial contact Head of Markham Vale, Peter Storey email: peter.storey@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 535417.