Derbyshire-based contractor G F Tomlinson has announced it is sponsoring a statue as part of the ‘Walking Together’ memorial, which commemorates the miners who lost their lives at Markham Colliery 80 years ago.
The 1938 explosion, which claimed the lives of 79 miners, was the second tragedy to occur at the colliery in Derbyshire after an explosion in 1937 and before the 1973 disaster involving a faulty lift, which together claimed 27 lives.
Led by Derbyshire County Council, the memorial will eventually see 106 steel figures – one to honour each miner – erected between the village of Duckmanton in Chesterfield and the former pithead at Markham Colliery.
Designed by Cheshire-based artist Stephen Broadbent, the 6.5 – 7-foot statues symbolise a miner’s journey to the pit and back home again. 53 figures with a darker finish will represent those walking home, while 53 brighter figures will represent those walking to the pit to begin their shift. Each figure will carry a bronze tag with the name of one of the miners, along with their age, job role and the year of their death.
The aim of the memorial is for visitors to re-imagine and remember the lives of all miners, especially those who lost their lives for their work.
G F Tomlinson will be sponsoring the statue that commemorates contractor Arthur May, a World War I veteran who was 59 when he sadly lost his life in the 1938 disaster. Arthur’s statue and ten others will be unveiled to family members and those connected to the project at a private event on 26 September. This is the second instalment of statues to mark the 1938 tragedy, following seven statues being unveiled in January this year.
Andy Sewards, managing director at G F Tomlinson, said: “Being a Derbyshire-based business we are aware of the area’s mining past and the lives that were so sadly lost over the years. We’ve worked on a number of projects in Markham Vale over the last few years and have come to know the area well. We take great interest in the communities that we work in and felt that it was important to support this memorial.
“The Walking Together memorial commemorates each individual that lost their life and keeps their memory alive, whilst also representing the Markham Vale community’s resilience and strength through tragedy.
“We are honoured to be able to sponsor the Arthur May statue and be involved in such an inspirational project.”
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, Councillor Tony King, said: “We’re delighted to hear that G F Tomlinson has sponsored a statue to commemorate contractor Arthur May as part of our Walking Together memorial.
“The memorial has been designed to remember the brave men who tragically lost their lives in the three disasters at Markham Colliery and so future generations can learn about the important and challenging jobs they had.
“We now have 34 figures as part of the memorial and we look forward to unveiling more in September as we work towards commemorating all 106 miners.”
Sitting at the heart of the UK motorway network, between Sheffield and Nottingham, the former colliery is now home to the Markham Vale regeneration scheme, which houses 42 businesses ranging from industrial, warehouse and office accommodation to leisure, retail and restaurant spaces.