In this heartbreaking poem the young boy’s wish comes true. His father stays at home saving his life as the “pit burns”. Sadly, Wigan Borough’s mining history has not been so fortunate.
Seventy five lives were lost at the Maypole Colliery in the Wigan Coalfield on 18 August 1908. Two years later on
21 December 1910, on the border of Westhoughton and Atherton, the Pretoria Pit explosion killed 344 men and boys.
The explosion, which was heard for miles around, devastated families and communities – many of those killed were from the same family.
Now, 100 years since one of the worst mining disasters in British history, a new temporary exhibition at the Museum of Wigan Life on Library Street, Wigan, will explore the dangers of life down the mine.
Lisa Keys is the Exhibition and Display Officer for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s heritage service. “To say the coal mine was a dangerous place is a huge understatement.
“Every day ordinary working class men would put their life on the line to travel deep beneath the earth’s crust and work in hellish and potentially deadly conditions” says Lisa.
The exhibition will highlight people’s stories coupled with museum and archive collections to interpret safety in coal mines.
It will also feature accounts of a range of stories that have been passed down through generations.
Lisa added: “This year is the Pretoria Pit disaster’s centenary and it will be commemorated in this exhibition.
“It will also feature ex-miners, their friends and families telling their story of safety, accident prevention and superstition.
If someone has a story to share we’d love them to get in touch.”
If you have a story to share, please contact Lisa Keys, Wigan Heritage Services’ Exhibition and Display Officer, on Lisa Keys or telephone 01942 828126.
The new temporary exhibition at the Museum of Wigan Life will be on show from December 2010 to March 2011.