Poignant mine memories are unveiled

The train headboard is presented to the museum at the unveiling of Kellingley Memorial.
The train headboard is presented to the museum at the unveiling of Kellingley Memorial.

Poignant reminders of the last deep coal mine in the country have been unveiled at The National Coal Mining Museum for England.

Kellingley Colliery was closed on December 18 last year, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, including 450 coal miners who worked up until its final day.

The Kellingley Memorial was given to the museum earlier this year and unveiled on Tuesday. The bronze sculpture and plaque were erected at the pithead of the North Yorkshire mine in 2010 as a tribute to the men who lost their lives working at the pit during its 50 years of operations.

The Big K display at the museum includes Kellingley’s final tonne of coal that was brought to the surface before its closure.

A commemorative headboard from the last train to leave the colliery on Christmas Eve 2015 was also donated to the Overton Museum during the unveiling ceremony.

Jonathan Lawton, the DB Schenker Rail UK driver of the last train service, presented the headboard to Darran Cowd, collections officer at NCMME. The occasion was particularly special for Mr Lawton as he is the nephew of the late Victor Lawton, who drove the very first train service from Kellingley Colliery in 1972.

Mr Lawton said: “You could say that this rail service runs in my family and so I was very grateful to get the opportunity to drive the last train out of the colliery, which left as the site was being decommissioned. The train was fitted with a headboard to mark the occasion and it was an honour to present this here today, I’m proud that it will now be seen at the National Coal Mining Museum for England for generations to come.”

Mike Benson, museum director, said: “We are pleased and proud that we are able to preserve not only the Kellingley memorial here at the museum, but also the commemorative headboard which was kindly donated today. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to come along to the museum to view the newly placed memorial and the headboard, and thank our guests for coming along to the event which marks an important and poignant moment in our coal mining heritage.”

For more information about the display, visit www.ncm.org.uk or call 01924 848806.