Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University

Memorials: Miners' Memorial, Conisbrough
Artist: Graham IBBESON

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Artist: Grimethorpe Miners' Memorial Trust
TitleOfWork: Grimethorpe Colliery Memorial
DateOfWork: 2003
Dimensions:
Medium: granite
Location: Grimethorpe, S. Yorkshire
Country: UK - England
Photographer: Dave Ball
ImageCopyright: Sheffield Hallam University
AccessionNumber: b070b
FileSize: 414942
Location: On the pavement of High Street, next to Grimethorpe WW1 Memorial, outside St Luke's Church.

Description: Three granite books of remembrance are laid open side by side on a sloping sandstone slab, resting on a plinth; above this are three granite panels on sandstone. The central, larger panel, carries an inscription; the outer panels are each covered by a photograph. The left panel shows an exterior view of the colliery. The right hand panel shows the interior of the mine; a miner sitting on the shafts of a coal tub, which is pulled along rails by a pony; and two safety lights hung on timbers to either side illuminating this scene.

Inscriptions: On the central upper panel: IN MEMORY OF THE MEN / WHO LOST THEIR LIVES / AT / GRIMETHORPE COLLIERY / 1894 - 1993
On the three open books: [the names of the dead]

Commission: Before the Grimethorpe Miners' Memorial Trust was formed on 18 July 2001, there was in existence no record of the miners who had died at the Colliery. Terry Middleton and Jack Howell, two local residents, visited local archives, cemeteries, and mining offices to establish the list that had been neglected up until this time.
The Trust established a design for the memorial after consultation with ex-miners from the village and their families. At no time did they feel the need to commission a design from an outside source. The money required, 31,532, was partially raised by public subscription from local businesses and inhabitants and with major sponsorship from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd).
The monument was manufactured in Scotland by Stevenson Memorials Ltd using stone from Sweden and India. It was assembled in Grimethorpe on 12 March and the opening ceremony held on 15 March 2003. The memorial was unveiled by children chosen from each of three schools in Grimethorpe, and a service of blessing and dedication was performed by Father Peter Needham from St Luke's Church.

Comment: The Colliery began life in 1894 and was successful up to its closure in 1993. In the hundred years of its existence 154 men were killed working at the pit. It was built on farmland and since its closure all that remains is the village that was created to service it and the changes in the landscape left after almost all the direct traces of its presence were removed.
Grimethorpe underwent drastic changes after 1993 as local families left to find work elsewhere and were often replaced from inner city estates in Sheffield and Leeds. Some of these events were reflected in the 1996 film Brassed Off.
The memorial has been important for Grimethorpe as its inception marked the beginning of a change of fortune for the local community; and it undoubtedly has helped to create a sense of worth in a village that had deteriorated to a condition "like the Wild West" [1]. It was felt to be important that the whole process, including the design, had been achieved from within that community [2].

References: [1] Conversation with James Richardson, Chairman of local British Legion (21/3/2003)
[2] Conversation with Terry Middleton, Grimethorpe Miners' Memorial Trust (20/3/2005)

Sources: The Grimethorpe Miners' Memorial (2004) Middleton, T. (ed) Grimethorpe Miners' Memorial Trust and WEA joint publication





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Last updated 14 December, 2006