FORMER miners in East Lancashire have paid a poignant tribute to 19 of their comrades who never returned home aft-er a pit disaster 50 years ago.

Five decades on from the Hapton Valley disaster, which also left more than 20 seriously injured, a new memorial has been dedi-cated at Burnley Miners Club.

Ex-collier Steve Hird, who worked for a number of years at Hapton Valley, pro-vided the slate epitaph.

He painstakingly etched the names of the 19 who perished in March, 1962, from teenagers like Peter Tinsley, Robert Dunston, Joseph Forrest and James Cummings to 55-year-old driller Christopher Brown.

The victims came from across East Lancashire, wi-th several having trans-ferred to Hapton from other surrounding mines. Club steward Alan Kennedy said: “We hold the reunion every year, for miners, their friends and the community, but we wanted to do som-ething special to mark the 50th anniversary.”

The plaque was presented to Burnley Miners president Tony Mitchell, another ex-Hapton collier, and a 50th anniversary photograph was also handed over by Padiham mayor Bob Clark and Archie Lee, the trustees of the Hapton Valley Disaster Fund.

Last week the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev John Goddard, paid tribute to the sacrifice made by the 19 and their colleagues at a Burnley Cemetery ceremony.

Earlier that same day he also consecrated another illuminated memorial, naming each of the victims and giving their occupation, which will now hang in St Mark's Church, Rossendale Road.

The bishop also led the more than 200 people, in attendance, in a recitation of the 23rd Psalm, which was read out at each of the 19 funerals in 1962.