Many would have driven or walked past rusting machinery on the corner of Queensway and Bolton Road in Swinton wondering what it was... "It looked like a scrapyard" says Alex Channon, Chairman of Friends of Agecroft Colliery.
After creating the mining bench outside Salford Civic Centre, the Friends, all ex-Agecroft Colliery workers, decided to do something about the Queensway site, and the results were officially unveiled yesterday.
Three new benches have been installed and the old rusting mining equipment has been painted futuristic white which makes the site iconically stand out...
"People have been very complimentary about it, many saying it looks like something out of Dr Who" Alex explains "Before, people didn't have a clue what it was, but now it looks nice and should stay in that condition for quite some time, as we've sandblasted it and given it two coats of industrial paint."
The equipment was originally brought to Queensway from Scotland a few years ago as part of a heritage project by Swinton Angling Group, as the old lodge for Newtown Colliery is located nearby. It consists of an old coal tub, a hydraulic roof support, also known as a 'walking chuck', and a disc wheel.
Together, and with their new makeover, they now look like stand-out smart sculptures. But, as speakers at yesterday's dedication insisted, the mining memory of the area will never be forgotten...
Tony Haslam, Safety Engineer at Agecroft Colliery from 1978 until it closed in 1990, and now Treasurer of Friends of Agecroft Colliery, read out the names of ten Salford pits in the Swinton, Pendlebury, Irlam and Eccles area**, most of which had two or three generations of families working in them...
"On average a colliery would employ about one thousand people, so this area had ten thousand men, women, boys and girls who worked in these mines" he said "There's one hell of a heritage."
Former Salford NUM secretary, Jim Lord, acknowledged the help from Salford Council in the transformation of the site and the work of the late Brian Stott, former Agecroft Deputy, who was a major force behind the heritage work of the Friends of Agecroft Colliery and this latest project.
The site was officially opened by the Ceremonial Mayoress and Mayor, Peter Connor, who said that members of his family worked in the pits, including his older brother... "It seems to me that people forget about those who have done so much for this city, and the miners were a real core of activity" he said "...'We shall remember them'..."
*See also previous Salford Star article on the Civic Centre miners' bench memorial – click here
** The ten Salford pits were...
Wet Earth Colliery – 180 years of mining 1748-1928
Pendleton Colliery – 111 years 1828-1939
Sandhole colliery – 97 years 1865-1962
Clifton Hall Colliery – 91 years 1838-1929
Wheatsheaf Colliery – 115 years 1846-1961
Sandhole Colliery – 97 years 1865-1962
Mosley Common Colliery – 108 years 1860-1968
Ellesmere Colliery – 55 years 1866-1921
Newtown Colliery – 86 years 1875-1961
Agecroft Colliery – 118 years 1844-1932/1960-1990