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Museum tribute to East Lancashire's mine heroes
A FLEDGLING museum is aiming to preserve the colliery way of life which was once central to hundreds of East Lancashire families.
Carole and Harry Johnson first came up with the idea of forging their own mining heritage centre when they began to redevelop Smithson Farm, in Reedley Hallows, near Burnley.
Once home to the head of the Woodend Pit, the couple began to come across a number of old mining tools and oddments scattered around the site.
Three years on the Johnsons are launching a museum dedicated to the lives of Woodend miners and nearby pits.
Carole said: “It is just a shame that there is no other museum around here to remember what it was like working down the mines.
“At one time people in Burnley either worked in the mills or down the mines.
“It was such a big part of people’s lives so we decided to put this museum together.”
Undertaking research for the project, she came across former miner Horace Lister, who worked at a number of pits and was a survivor of the 1962 disaster at Hapton Valley colliery.
Mr Lister has been able to assist with a great deal of background information regarding the old pits and help to pull together the collection. Carole is also hopeful that the museum, which threw open its doors as part of a heritage open weekend, will prove popular with local schools.
“No-one around here obviously goes down the mines any more but there is all kinds of information about how children as young as eight or nine used to work in the pits, which form part of our heritage,” she added.
Several ex-miners at Woodend, which closed in 1959, have already been on a tour of the museum which is accessible by contacting Smithson Farm on 01282 420701.
The heritage open weekend also saw volunteers at the farm take part in a cake sale fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care which raised £450 for the charity.
Tributes have been paid in a number of ways this year, on the 50th anniversary, to the 19 colliers who perished in the Hapton disaster.
An illuminated manuscript detailing their names, ages and pit roles, has been hung in St Mark’s Church, Rossendale Road.
And a new slate epitaph, fashioned by former miner Steve Hird, now takes pride of place in Burnley Miners Club, Plumbe Street.
Work is also set to be completed by artist Tim Norris, in partnership with stonemason Alan Parkinson and blacksmith John Conlon, on an engraved seat which will be located on Padiham Greenway.
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