Memorial to Prince of Wales colliery unveiled
A memorial to honour those who worked at Pontefract's Prince of Wales colliery was unveiled on Friday.
Doing the honours was 86-year-old former miner John Hopkins and councillors and miners from the final shift at the Prince of Wales colliery were present, including Garry Foreman, Phil Shaw and Pete Lansfield.
The memorial came about as a result of a long-running campaign by Ponteract and Castleford MP, Yvette Cooper, local councillors and former Prince of Wales miners. Funding of £50,000 came from the regeneration company Harworth Group.
The memorial itself is made from Coreten steel and stone and has been designed and built by local artist and former miner Harry Malkin. It stands 5m tall at the entrance to the Prince of Wales redevelopment opposite Pontefract racecourse on Park Road.
Yvette Cooper said: "“It is fantastic to see this wonderful memorial finally in place. We’ve been working over many, many years to get this.
"Prince of Wales colliery was a vital part of our history for 140 years and we are proud of that.
"Pontefract was built on liquorice and coal - that is why we wanted this memorial here at the gateway to Pontefract as well as the gateway to the Prince of Wales site.
"Everyone can see this proud tribute to the miners who worked here through the generations, powering the country, as well as the families and communities who supported them.
"My grandad was a miner and so many people round here come from mining families so we know how much this means”
The artist Harry Malkin who worked at Fryston Colliery until it closed in the mid 1980s has designed and built the memorial with a local team. He said: "The design is based on the cage that conveyed the men up and down the shaft.
"Using profile cut panels of steel, it gives it a sense of direction and drama – conveying the sense miners were ‘caged’ safe, yet also trapped in an underground life we fought for so long to keep.”
Unveiling the memorial Mr Hopkins ,one of the oldest surviving Prince of Wales former employees said:" I worked at Prince of Wales for over 20 years.
"During its heyday the pit employed over 2,000 men produced a record breaking 34,000 tonnes of coal per week.
"Over the years I witnessed some brilliant times and great camaraderie, but also some real tragedy. This memorial honours all those who worked at Prince of Wales and will ensure that the legacy of local miners, and their families is never forgotten.”