Agecroft Colliery and the adjacent power station once stood as a landmark in Pendlebury, representing over a century of mining in the city until it all closed in 1990. Up until this year there has been nothing at the site that notes what was formerly there. The Irwell Valley Mining Project decided to do something about it and got a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to put Agecroft back on the map.
In July a memorial was unveiled near Agecroft Colliery's former entrance on Agecroft Road, in a ceremony attended by dozens of former Agecroft workers and their families (see previous Salford Star article – click here). Now, the year long project is about to be concluded with an exhibition at former `miners' cathedral' St Augustine's Church on Bolton Road.
The Last Pit In The Valley exhibition includes photos from all eras of the mine's existence, Agecroft artefacts including ties, lamps, helmets, badges and even a cutting from the original Victorian prop that held up the first tunnels, all lent by former miners.
There's also going to be people's oral memories of the colliery to listen to, some of which are really funny – schoolkids from Irwell Valley High School going on a trip down the pit, why Salford pigeons had black feet, and women getting dressed up on open days only to come back up from the shafts covered in dirt.
There's happy memories of the camaraderie, and incredibly sad memories of accidents in what was a dangerous job digging up the black gold.
On the opening day of the exhibition there's going to be the launch of a new book – The Last Pit In The Valley by former Agecroft worker Paul Kelly, documenting his life and times and strikes at the colliery, and there's also the premiere of a new film, Collieries of the Valley, made specially as part of the project. School pupils from St Augustine's Primary School have created artwork for the exhibition and children will be shown a 50s-style fireside scene, including instructions on how to build a real coal fire and make a cup of tea with proper old fashioned tea leaves.
"This exhibition will remind people of the important role coal played in the economic and family life of the people of Salford" says Alice Searle, co-ordinator of the Irwell Valley Mining Project "Sadly, in the rush to regenerate and recreate Salford, aspects of its history have been by-passed. Yet we are 'where we are' and 'what we are' because of our past and this must be acknowledged.
"Many will still remember the gigantic power station towers on Agecroft Road, powered by the coal from the nearby colliery and most of us still remember, as children, the comfort of a coal fire" she adds "This is why the exhibition includes work by children who have been included in the researching and re-telling of this significant aspect of all our history."
The Last Pit In The Valley Exhibition
Saturday 21st - 28th September
St Augustine's Church, Bolton Road, Pendlebury
Opening Day: Saturday 21st September 12noon – 4pm
Exhibition. Book Launch. Film.
The Exhibition is also open Sunday 22nd: 12- 4pm; Mon 23rd to Fri 27th 2pm-6pm; Saturday 28th: 12- 4pm.
UPDATE: 18th September
An ebook of Lorraine Mchugh's stunning photographs `The Death of a Pit' has been produced. View it now at http://issuu.com/deathofapit/docs/death_of_a_pit
Full Exhibition Review - click here
The Salford Star is proud to support the Irwell Valley Mining Project and our workers have been involved with the project since its inception.