Star date: 28th July 2013


"It's a great honour to see this memorial unveiled, it is long overdue – God bless all the miners" Jean Barnes

Yesterday, hundreds of people, including around forty former mine workers, flocked to the unveiling of a new monument to commemorate those who worked and died at Agecroft Colliery, Salford's last pit.

Former miners, some carrying lamps and wearing original Agecroft helmets, unveiled the monument to the emotional sound of Besses Brass Band.

Full details and lots of photos here…

Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling Agecroft Colliery Monument Unveiling
click image to enlarge

Around two hundred people, including forty former Agecroft workers, attended the unveiling yesterday of a new monument to those who lost their lives and worked at Agecroft Colliery, Salford's last pit which closed in 1990.

Some had come from as far away as Scotland and Wales with their families to commemorate the colliery, and many said that, despite the dangers and harsh working conditions, they would go back down tomorrow for the camaraderie.

Brian Stott, who worked at Agecroft from 1966, as first a face worker and later a deputy, was one of the last to drive through the gates when it shut… "It broke our hearts the day it closed" he said "If they sank a shaft now I'd come for a job."

The monument was particularly poignant for Brian, who had three sons working at the mine. His eldest, Adam aged just 19, lost his life in an accident at the pit… "The treatment by these guys was incredible – six hundred miners packed the church singing Abide With Me…unforgettable."

While there were many tears to remember past colleagues, there were also many smiles as former work mates were reunited after many years. Some wore their original helmets and workclothes as they unveiled the monument which read…

`This monument is dedicated to the coal miners of the Agecroft Colliery and to all the men, women, boys and girls who toiled in the collieries of the Irwell Valley. Remember all those who lost their lives below the ground on which you stand.'

Before the monument was unveiled there was absolute silence as the brilliant Besses Brass Band emotionally played The Miners Hymn, originally written to commemorate the Gresford Colliery Disaster in Wrexham in 1934 when 266 men died.

Earlier, speaker after speaker paid tribute to those who worked at Agecroft…

Steve North, President of Salford Trades Council, and whose granddad worked in the pit, said it was important for young people to learn real history about "people who worked down the mines and in the shipyards who actually built this country", while Hilda Palmer, co-ordinator of Greater Manchester Hazard committee, stressed the need "to remember the people who worked under the ground, and the many who died horrible deaths… these people fought collectively for better conditions of work that we have now but which we are in danger of losing. Mine workers were at the forefront of all that.

"We need to fight now to maintain those gains for our children" she added "There are only 3000 miners left in this country but the rate of death, since privatisation, has gone to a fifty year high."

Jim Lord, branch secretary of the NUM at Agecroft, said it was "A great pleasure to see, at last, a memorial being erected on the site on behalf of everyone who worked there.

"I worked alongside men who have been killed or carried out of the colliery with very bad injuries" he added "I've very sad memories, and very happy memories working with my comrades, both miners and the staff and the deputies. It was a very happy pit."

Ex Agecroft worker, Paul Kelly, who has co-ordinated the Irwell Valley Mining Project (IVMP) which created the monument, also paid tribute to those who lost their lives at all the Salford… "This day is all about those who have died and not been acknowledged" he said "Miners have been treated very badly for the work they've done and the money they've made for the rich in society …who wouldn't go down the pits to bring back that coal. Blood is the price of coal."

While speakers remembered the past, they also stressed the need for links with a new younger generation, and Alice Searle, joint co-ordinator of the IVMP, recalled how important it is to pass on the legacy and history of the industry which fired the Industrial Revolution, adding that when Paul went to talk to children about mining, many had never seen a piece of coal. 

The links with future generations were maintained, as Salford City College construction students built the monument, and Stuart Quayle, Head of Construction, said everyone wanted to be involved "because it's part of Salford's history and they all wanted to be build something for it, something that would stay for a lifetime…it was a great honour for the College to be part of this project."

In return the Irwell Valley Mining Project, which has co-ordinated the project with a Heritage Lottery grant, has sponsored an annual award at the College to keep the links going.

Meanwhile, pupils from St Augustine's Primary School made the tiles that read `Agecroft Colliery' on the monument and have also created a collage of all the Irwell Valley mines which will be on display at a new exhibition commemorating Agecroft at St Augustine's Church opening on 25th September.

After the unveiling, pupils from St Augstine's, together with miners' children and other young people from the area, planted flowers in the raised garden sponsored by Greater Manchester TUC, on the monument, which had previously been blessed by Father Huchence, of St Augustine's Church.

Peter Bradshaw, now 82, who worked as a mechanic at Agecroft between 1960 and 1984, said he'd been down to Agecroft on many occasions but "there was nothing there to say anything about the men who worked down here, or the men I knew who died. This a fantastic achievement."

Paul Topping, who worked as a machine driver from 1977-1991, and who still carries the Agecroft fob that workers carried down the mine, said "the monument means a lot – it was the best time of my life working here", while Alex Channon, who worked as a pit fitter at Agecroft for 25 years, from 1965 to the day it closed, added "It's significant that this has been done to commemorate not just Agecroft but mining up and down the country."

Meanwhile former safety officer, Anthony Haslam, added that the day revived "a lot of very pleasant memories and some unpleasant ones, the worst when Brian Stott's son, Adam, was killed."

It was for people like Adam that the monument now stands. Jean Barnes, has lived next to the pit since the day the modern shafts were opened, has lived through the strikes, the tragedies and the happy memories of Agecroft, and was first to speak at the unveiling…

"It's a great honour to see this memorial unveiled, it is long overdue" she said "God bless all the miners"

• During the day, £90 was raised towards getting a replica Agecroft miners'  banner made for future marches and ceremonies.

• A new exhibition centred on Agecroft Colliery will open on 21st September at St Augustine's Church. It will feature longer versions of all the interviews conducted yesterday, plus films, oral memories, artefacts and photos. Full details to follow.

Peter Bladon wrote
at 23:14:47 on 26 December 2014
I was born at 53 Agecroft Road East in Prestwich, Lancs (now part of Greater Manchester). I seem to recall that Salford was not far away. Can anyone tell me if the name of my road was named after the Colliery?
george sands wrote
at 17:48:33 on 27 March 2014
sorry I missed the event,best wishes to all. G Sands. 27/3/2014
Bob Constantine wrote
at 08:00:00 on 15 December 2013
I wish I had known about this event because I would have loved to attend it because I was a deputy at Agecroft
tom flynn wrote
at 00:27:26 on 15 November 2013
sorry to have missed the unveiling only just found out
Alex Channon wrote
at 06:01:39 on 08 August 2013
Hello Alice Searle I sent you an email a short while ago so you now have my email address. My son has posted the you tube video on our facebook page Friends of Agecroft Colliery. For any who want my email address it's Hope to see a good turn out at St Augustine's at the back end of September.
Alice Searle wrote
at 16:29:54 on 07 August 2013
Hope people are still looking up this report because I need to tell everyone that the film made on the day and edited by Kay Phillips is now up on line for all. It is very nicely done and emotional at times. Look up www.youtube.com/user/historyprojectMoston It is under Agecroft Colliery Memorial Day. Don't be confused by Moston; that's where Kay and Richard started there community filming career. Also note for Alex Channon. I have many emails for you re your reunion, taken the day.Please make contact.
Alex Channon wrote
at 12:38:50 on 02 August 2013
Hi All, I've just set up a facebook page; Friends of Agecroft Colliery. Hopefully this will help former Agecroft workers, families and friends of Agecroft workers to keep in touch. Please feel free to use the facebook page to add your comments, photo's of the pit etc. I will use the facebook page amongst other means to advise all of the proposed re-union we intend to hold next April.
Alex Channon wrote
at 18:46:58 on 01 August 2013
Hi All, great reading all the comments following last Saturday's unveiling ceremony. Obviously would have been even better if more Agecroft workers could have made it. I contacted the Manchester Evening News & the Salford Advertiser with the information hoping they would publicise the event, sadly both ignored my request. Paul Kelly informed many local newspapers over a wide area and it would appear very few if any publicised the unveiling ceremony. I feel sorry for those who didn't get to the unveiling because they knew nothing of the event but would have joined us if they had known. As previously mentioned it's intended to hold an Agecroft re-union in late March next year. If Madge Blakesley, daft Harold Durant, John Mulgrew, Dennis Cawtherley and others send their contact details to me by email I'll make sure you get the details of next years re-union.
DennisCawtherley wrote
at 06:55:19 on 01 August 2013
Burnley miners from Hapton Valley to Agecroft  I transferred to Agecroft to drive the CAAT Tunnel. The lads from Burnley did not know about the event and the  unveiling.Good luck to all x miners and thanks to all that made the effort to make it possible WELL DONE and thanks.   God bless to all that lost friends in the mining industry 
john mulgrew wrote
at 20:02:21 on 31 July 2013
well done to all the people who fought to get the memorial.it was nice to see the photoes. i remember alex channon and jimmy lord tony haslam. well done there might be no mines left but theres still plenty miners.
Paul Kelly wrote
at 20:02:17 on 31 July 2013
My heart felt thanks to all the people who came on Saturday, who all made it a great day and made all the hard work worth while. We hope to arrange a reunion next year round about the 28th of April, and we will be holding a memorial service at the monument on workers memorial day( no fixed date yet). Once again thank you all for coming and see you next year or at the exibition on the 21st September at St Augustines.
harold.durant wrote
at 12:47:26 on 31 July 2013
hi every one, wish i had known about the un vailing i would have come, hope you all had a good day still remember alot of you,if we had known a few from burnley would have come as well,miners are allways in our thoughts, by for now burnley lads and harold durant
Madge Blakesley wrote
at 12:46:57 on 31 July 2013
So sorry I couldn't make on Saturday, would have been nice to catch up with some good friends, It was the best job of my life working in the canteen and I have many a fond memory, I work in the canteen from 1979-1990 but I don't miss them dam snap notes! I hope everybody had a great day XXX
N Hodgkiss wrote
at 11:27:31 on 30 July 2013
I lived in a miners house for the first years of my life,my father was a miner and so was his dad,im so glad that a memorial stands where the pit used to be,i only wish my father could have attended,but his bad health prevented him,i see some faces from the past namely Alex Channon,who was my next door neighbour on Park Lane West,nice to see you in your working clothes Alex and you look really happy.Agecroft Colliery may be gone but will never be forgotten.
Tony Haslam wrote
at 11:27:22 on 30 July 2013
Many thanks to everyone who played a part in Saturdays unveiling of the long overdue rememberance monument. It was great to meet up with colleagues from 23years ago. Some I knew some I had to ask who they were, but a fantastic afternoon. So sad some had passed away who I asked about. The reunion Alex Channon I would love for an invite to it. My email is Anthony_haslam@ sky.com anybody who wishes to contact me I would be very grateful. Once again top marks to all concerned with the project.
Hilda Palmer wrote
at 15:02:15 on 29 July 2013
Brilliant event, fantastic work by Paul Kelly, Alice Searle, Salford College and their students and all involved. Beautiful memorial. Huge privilege to be asked to speak. Very moving, I always find the Gresford hymn poignant. On International Workers Memorial Day 28 April (every year) let' do this again. Remember the Dead and Fight like hell for the Living.
Gaynor Lloyd wrote
at 20:08:01 on 28 July 2013
I have been reduced to tears reading this. My Dad, Peter Lloyd was a Deputy at Agecroft until he had an accident in 1977 when a stone flew off a conveyor belt and shattered his knee. He had worked at a selection of NW pits - Ashton Moss, Bradford and finally Agecroft (which he loved (though he always said it was a damp pit and he suffered from appalling night cramps (or day cramps if ona different shift!) which he said was down to its dampness. My brother and I had to come to collect him (and his car) from the pit after his accident and I'll never forget the kindness - memories of for some reason trying to sort stuff out at the pit baths/showers). I also had a trip right down to pit bottom - never forget the slide down by men working the adjoining seam and coming out at the bottom into this huge cavern of silence and soot suspended in the air and a lovely Frenchman who said " The first woman down here". Dad and the family worked so hard on picket lines including at Bersham where he came from in N Wales) during the Strike (when he was very disappointed with national NACODS)> even though he was quite disabled by then not only by his leg injury but emphysema. I have memories of going with him to sit outside union meetings in Walkden and lovely Derek Skitt, who I think was the Secretary. Dad died in 1996 and I always remember his saying to me "Make sure they do a post-mortem nd look at my lungs - see if you can get Mum compensation for pneumoconiosis"> he did a lot at Albert Bridge Housie for fellow members over the years so he knew the system. I'd love to hear from anyone who knew him. Gaynor@gaynorlloyd.co.uk. I did love him, I think of him most days, and he was a great Dad.
debbie wrote
at 20:06:43 on 28 July 2013
Great piece well done, it was a good day especially for my dad who saw some of his old mates
Alex Channon wrote
at 13:44:56 on 28 July 2013
What a fantastic and emotional day it was at the unveiling of the AGECROFT MEMORIAL. Great for me and many other ex-Agecroft workers to get together and share some happy memories. My thanks go to everyone at the IVMP and others who helped make the day such a huge success. In 2006 I helped organise an Agecroft re-union. Speaking to several former friends from Agecroft yesterday there appears to be a desire to have another re-union at some stage. I'm considering another re-union, probably at the end of next April to coincide with 'Workers Day'. I did manage to obtain some contact details from a handful of ex-Agecroft lads yesterday. If there are others reading this who are interested in a Agecroft re-union would you please send me some contact details. My email address is alexchannon81@gmail.com Once again, many thanks to all involved in organising such a wonderful and unforgettable day yesterday.
Alice Searle wrote
at 13:44:45 on 28 July 2013
I am so pleased that the day was so successful for all the mining families which attended. I really enjoyed seeing the little huddles of ex miners reminding each other of the good and the bad times. So many stories they had to tell. The IVMP has them all on recordings and on film and these will be used to support the exhibition in Sept. We will be happy to receive any more stories, so please send them via Salford Star. Personally I wish to thank my friends who helped me in many personal ways. Miners will understand the importance of such friendship. Finally, great playing Besses Band! You created a wonderful atmosphere and your playing of Gresford was so beautiful.
Steven North wrote
at 13:44:16 on 28 July 2013
Well done to everybody who did this - Paul and Alice particularly. It was a poignant but uplifiting unveiling and it was great to see all the kids there. It's so important that we learn about our own history. The people who worked in mines like Agecroft and who struggled for the economic, social and political benefits we enjoy today really are the giants whose shoulders we stand on....and we should always try to live up to that legacy.
Adeeb Ahmed wrote
at 10:54:35 on 28 July 2013
It was great to see such a remarkable turnout for the unveiling of the Agecroft memorial. A wonderful and emotional tribute to the miners and mining comunity and recognition of their sacrifice for our country.
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