Local Community Unite to Open New Mining Memorial in Clowne
Clowne in the Bolsover district of Derbyshire, forms part of the Bolsover constituency and lies 9 miles north east of Chesterfield and 7 miles south west of Worksop. The village name derives from the Celtic word “Clun”, meaning “river”. In the 17th century Clowne was a rural farming community. Some buildings still stand from this date, notably the Anchor Inn and Sheridon's Yard which are now private residences. Inhabitants of Clowne typically worked in agriculture, or mined the shallow coal seams. Others were employed at the mill, which made candle-wick, sacking and sail-cloth.
During the Industrial Revolution, Clowne grew exponentially, swallowing the tiny neighbouring villages of Hickinwood and Markland and becoming a colliery village. The sinking of the 1,000 feet deep mine, Southgate Colliery, in 1877 brought in workers from elsewhere. A major mining community emerged and the majority of the male population of the village worked in Southgate, or the other pits within close proximity. The men made up large proportions of the Whitwell and Oxcroft Collieries, with many also working at pits within a 5-6 mile radius, such as Markham, Bolsover, High Moor and nearby, Creswell. Around the 1970's some 75% of the male population worked at many of these collieries, or the small businesses that developed to service the same pits.
At its peak, Southgate Colliery employed 400 men and produced 600 tons of coal per day. At the end of the 19th century, rows of Victorian terraced houses were built to house the mining families. This growth left its mark on the village, not just in the abundance of terraced housing, but in the old school which was built in 1895, the old village High Street and the railway. The Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway, which later became the Great Central and the Midland Railway ran right through the village.
Unfortunately, the high rate of coal production in the area came at a price. There were various tragic accidents in the mines that took the lives of local workers including a large explosion at Markham. Various accidents at Southgate Colliery, including a fire in 1920, led to the loss of 39 lives between 1877 and 1929 before it was closed due to a severe flood.
Clowne Historical Society, led by Allan Bailey, along with local business sponsors have created a memorial on Station Road in Clowne at the entrance to what was the Southgate Colliery site. The memorial consists of a renovated mining tub, originally used to transport coal, an information board containing information and photographs of the mine and a memorial plinth to commemorate the workers that lost their lives whilst working down the mine. The plinth was built with bricks from the original screening room at the site. The bricks were discovered in recent construction works by project sponsor, Penny Hydraulics Ltd who are based on the old Southgate Colliery site.
The memorial was opened on Saturday 22nd October by Bolsover MP, Dennis Skinner. Born in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, Skinner is the third of nine children of coal miner Edward Skinner, who was sacked after the 1926 general strike. Skinner himself was a miner for over twenty years. The opening ceremony was well attended by members of the local community and supporters of the project. A number of local businesses contributed to the mining memorial including; lifting equipment manufacturer Penny Hydraulics Ltd; refractory linings supplier, Capital Refractories and metal wholesaler, Derim Steels. All of which reside on Station Road Industrial Estate, the old colliery site.
Managing Director of Penny Hydraulics Ltd, Robin Penny comments, “Some Penny Hydraulics employees including myself, are ex-colliers, we are therefore delighted to be able to support the renovation of the mining tub and installation of the Clowne mining memorial which will help to ensure the importance of Clowne’s mining heritage is not forgotten.”