Memorial unveiled to one of Wales' oldest pits

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

AN important monument at one of Wales’ oldest collieries has been unveiled.

Ex-miners have welcomed the memorial at Black Park Colliery in Chirk which remembers the miners of the 19th and 20th century.

Plans for the monument, at a site close to the McDonald’s restaurant in Halton, have stalled on several occasions after planning was granted more than a year ago.

But now the site, which consists of the Black Park sign, a plaque depicting the history of the mine, and a half colliery winding wheel, has been opened.

The other half of the wheel has been used for a similar memorial at Bersham Colliery in Rhostyllen.

Ex-miner Ted Owens, 79, of Station Avenue, Chirk, worked as a electrician at Black Park from 1946 until it closed in 1949.

He then started to work at Ifton Colliery until that closed in 1968.

Speaking about the monument at the official unveiling at the weekend, Mr Owens said: “It’s excellent and I’m very pleased with it. I think it’s so important to be remembered – people shouldn’t forget the mining industry.

“Working down the mines was just accepted in the villages – it was the only thing to do.

“I was an electrician which wasn’t so bad – I didn’t have do any digging.”

The colliery, which was originally sunk in the early 1800s, produced coal for gas, household and steam use and employed about 500 people at its peak in the early 1900s.

However, by the end of the Second World War it became clear it was no longer economically viable and closed for a time in 1949, before reopening as a ventilation shaft for the nearby Ifton Colliery.

The plaques and wheel are at the entrance to the old colliery and near to where the Chirk dragon would be built, if the scheme is successful.

Chirk Town Council chairman, Cllr John Vant, said: “It shows the industrial heritage of the area.

“There are a lot of visitors to the area and they can see it’s there and realise there was a pit in the area.”

Chirk Community councillor Barry Evans said: “It’s a memorial to the men and boys who worked down there.

“It is one of the oldest collieries in North Wales.

“We have wanted to have the monument for a number of years and we hope this is a fitting tribute to them.”

See full story in the Leader

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