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Sixty-six years on, the son of a miner killed in an accident has erected a monument in his memory. Image courtesy: The Mirror.
Sixty-six years on, the son of a miner killed in an accident has erected a monument in his memory. Image courtesy: The Mirror.

A memorial 66 years in the making

A group of men who did not survive a mining accident 66 years ago have been honoured with a monument launched in their names.

Ernie Jones, the son of one of the deceased men, created the monument to honour those who had died in the coal mine shaft in Gloucestershire, England in 1951.

According to international reports, Jones, who was 16 at the time his father died, has spent the past 30 years filling in and landscaping a 20m disused quarry in the Forest of Dean, in the west of Gloucester county.

Jones’ intention was to turn the quarry into green space that could accommodate the memorial. He began work after signing an agreement with the UK Forestry Commission in 1974.

“I’ve spent my life determined to fill the hole to bid my dad a proper farewell,” Jones was reported as saying.

"I’d have finished the job 20 or 30 years ago were it not for my health.”

The names of the miners were carved in steel panels around the 2.1m tall monument, which was unveiled by British politician Baroness Janet Royall.

Looking forward, looking back

Commenting on the 66-year-old ordeal, Jones told Gloucestershire Live: “I walked him [his father] down the road and then left him to go to work. To be honest, he did not want to go because he had busted all his fingers the night before clearing out the fireplace.

“His fingers were all smashed up but he owed £100 on the house so he went to work and that happened. A big seven-tonne slab of rock came down on him.”

The 83-year-old added that within a year of his father’s death, he went on to work in the mine to support his family. He was also buried in a rock fall but survived.

“My foot was trapped but I was lucky because I could move my right arm,” Jones said. “It was pitch black but I knew what I had to do. Instinct and experience just kicked in.

“It took me seven and a half hours. I tried not to think about it too much. I knew that if I wanted to save myself I had to get my foot clear and, luckily, I happened to be facing the right way to get the shovel.

“As they brought me out I looked across and saw where my father was killed. I said to myself: ‘That’s it, that’s the last time I’m coming down here.’ And it was.”

The memorial was unveiled in October and was dedicated to all the miners who have lost their lives in accidents.

More reading
Mining disasters that inspired better safety
Memorial for lost quarry men


Thursday, 24 May, 2018 04:20pm
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