Gedling Miners Memorial
Nottingham Evening Post
Wednesday 27 October 2010
Memorial To Men And Boys Who Died In The Pit
A memorial has been unveiled to more than 120 miners killed while working at Gedling Colliery.
Andy Smart hears the story of one family which made a double sacrifice
GOOD TIMES AND BAD: Above, the Withnall family who settled in Gedling when George Withnall arrived to sink the mine shafts. Right, the families of striking miners at Gedling Colliery to collect their free coal allowance. The photograph dates from around 1910.
THE Withnall family were pioneers of the mining industry in Nottingham, and they paid a heavy price.
George Withnall and his five sons were experts in sinking mine shafts; they were the team colliery owners turned to when they wanted to exploit a new seam of coal.
And in 1901, George and his boys arrived in Gedling to begin work on a new mine.
Our recent articles on fatal accidents in local pits inspired Elaine Malcolrnnson to tell Bygones about her great -grandfather and the tragedies that coloured her family history.
George senior died in 1922, at the age of 78 and was spared the grief that was to follow a few years later.
In 1929 his son was killed in Gedling pit by a roof fall. He was 61.
An inquest heard that George junior was trapped beneath a large piece of coal that had fallen off the coal face, an unusual occurrence in the pit.
Before he died, he told his brother, William, it was a pure accident. He was later buried in Gedling Cemetery.
Two years later, William suffered the same fate.
Another inquest heard that William had been ripping rock off the sides of a roadway when he, and a man named Bailey, were buried by rock weighing five or six hundredweight only an hour after a deputy had inspected the area and deemed it safe. Gedling Colliery had its 55th accident victim to add to the role of honour.
Elaine Malcolmson says that, soon after moving to Gedling, the Withnalls went to live in a newly-built house called Ivy Cottage on Burton Road.
More than a century later, the house is still in the family and is now Elaine's home.
She says that George junior was a member of the Methodist Church on Gedling Road, a very active man in the Band of Hope and a Sunday School teacher. He was kind, gentle and well-respected.
His death, to be followed so soon by the loss of his brother, William, understandably devastated the Withnall family.
On Saturday, the Withnall brothers will be honoured, along with more than 120 other men who died working coal at Gedling Colliery, by the unveiling of a memorial in the village centre.
The idea was proposed three years ago by former Gedling Colliery electrician Graham Tavner.
It was taken up by Gedling Village Preservation Society, building on research into mine fatalities by former miner Alan Beales, featured in Bygones.
The memorial, a large sculptural depiction of a miners' lamp, was unveiled at its permanent site at the junction of Main Road and Willow Lane, following a service of dedication in All Hallows Church which was conducted by the Rev Michael Taylor.
The sculpture features a brass ring with the names of 129 killed during the pit's 90 year history, but preservation society chairman Rick Wilson says it is also in honour of everyone who worked there.
The site will also feature an interpretation board highlighting other aspects of Gedling’s history and a bench for passers-by to sit and reflect on the past.
Thanks to Kirsty Taylor for passing this information on.