We were delighted to gather at Markham Vale on Wednesday 12th October 2022 to officially unveil the final 13 figures as part of the Walking Together trail and to celebrate school and community activity through the engagement project ‘10 Years of Walking Together’ supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The event was attended by relatives, members of the voluntary Markham Vale Heritage Group, sponsors, supporters and local schools.

With the final 13 life-size steel figures now unveiled, the total number of statues to commemorate those tragically killed at Markham Colliery is now complete at 106 – one for each man who died in the three major disasters in 1937, 1938 and 1973.

Originally commissioned by Derbyshire County Council in 2012, the Walking Together memorial forms a trail which stretches between the village of Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, to Markham Vale, close to where the former pithead of Markham Colliery once stood.

Cheshire-based Artist Stephen Broadbent designed the memorial supported by Markham Vale Heritage Group volunteers who researched the lives of the miners who were commemorated.

The final 13 figures have been dedicated to:

  1. David Bann, 54, Contractor
  2. Alfred Garland, 52, Timber Drawer
  3. Robert Gregson, 36, Contractor
  4. John William Hadley, 31, Contractor
  5. Joseph Hibbard, 51, Timber Drawer
  6. Joseph Lilley, 30, Road Repairer
  7. Felix Linathan, 48, Contractor
  8. Mark Richards, 31, Ripper
  9. Samuel Edward Salt, 41, Deputy
  10. Clarence Silcock, 42, Ripper
  11. Fred Taylor, 53, Contractor
  12. Redvers Baden Whitehead, 37, Shot-firer
  13. Matthew Williams, 36, Contractor

A grant of £17,830 was awarded by Valencia Communities Fund to support and install eight out of the 13 remaining figures. Great Bear, Reckitt and Henkel sponsored three figures and a further grant of £38,950 was awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to cover the cost of one figure and fund activities including engagement workshops with the local community, a commemorative publication, heritage walking tours of the site and more. In addition, one of the final figures was made possible through generous public donations.

Celebrated at the event was the work of local school students who worked with a Creative Writer and a Ceramicist as part of the ‘10 Years of Walking Together ‘ project. Participants came from Secondary schools – Netherthorpe School and  Springwell Community College; and from Primary Schools – Duckmanton, Woodthorpe and Holme Hall.

During June and July 2022 Creative Writer Lynn Ludditt and a number of Markham Vale Heritage Group volunteers delivered creative heritage workshops. These were bespoke and designed individually for each school. Sessions for primary schools concentrated on coal mining as a local occupation and included three key elements: a day in the life of a miner, living in a mining community, and miners’ hobbies, interests and holidays.

Secondary school sessions covered all of the above, but also included informative displays and presentations relating to the three disasters at Markham Colliery of 1937, 1938 and 1973. These were designed and delivered by local historian and Heritage Group volunteer, Sandra Struggles. Netherthorpe students focussed on creative writing whilst Springwell Community College students concentrated on local heritage.

Representatives of the Secondary schools attended the event to perform some of their work, whilst the work of the wider classes was put on display.

Also as part of ‘10 Years of Walking Together’ local schools worked with ceramic artist, Angie Hardwick, to create a symbolic ‘medal’ for each of the 106 miners who died in the major disasters at Markham Colliery. Participants visually interpreted Markham’s mining history using the notion of ‘Pride’. The medals created were on display as part of the event and will be collected by the schools and groups to keep as a memento of involvement.

The event also featured a performance by Kyle Evans, a George Formby Tribute performer who entertained attendees with performances of classic songs. The performance had an interesting link to Markham’s mining heritage as it is understood that George Formby himself performed a benefit gig in Chesterfield shortly after the 1938 Markham disaster to raise funds for families of the bereaved.

As part of ‘10 Years of Walking Together’ new onsite interpretation panels have been installed and a new trail map is available online and from the Markham Vale Environment Centre. We look forward to welcoming more visitors to walk the completed trail.

With special thanks to all of the volunteers from the Markham Vale Heritage Group and relatives for their unwavering support in helping to realise this ambitious memorial.

The ’10 Years of Walking Together’ project will be completed later this year with the publication of a new book about the project and mining heritage of the area and a short film.

All images credit to Andy Trynor.

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