Ex-miner looks back as pit site clearance gets go-ahead

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Staff reporter

A FORMER miner has spoken of his memories working down the pits as plans to transform a Wrexham industrial landmark take shape.

Robert Alun Jones, 60, of Johnstown, worked at the Bersham Bank Colliery site in Rhostyllen for more than 20 years.

During his dedicated service he survived being buried alive with three colleagues at Bersham in 1976.

“Mining is in the blood, you just can't get rid of it,” he said. “Times change but my memories stay strong, they will be with me forever. I can’t forget.

“Yes they were hard times and difficult conditions, but there were also great times and always with such wonderful people. You will never get a community like you do in a pit.

“The camaraderie is something very special you only have in industries such as steel, fishery or the armed forces. It is a bond, you depend on each other for safety.”

Mr Jones was speaking after the Leader reported that the Bersham Bank Colliery site, which closed in 1986 with the loss of 300 jobs, could eventually be replaced by homes and shops.

A new passenger line and station are also a possibility, created from rail sidings which would initially be used to transport equipment needed to carry out the multi-million pound development.

West Midlands-based developers Bersham (Glenside) Ltd plan to remove the huge slag heap at the site off the A483, which has been designated as amenity land, and prepare it for development.

Mr Jones added: “Moving the tip would be a very big scheme and safety would have to be the top priority.

“If it is for the benefit of Rhostyllen then I wouldn’t object as long as the heritage of the mining in the area is preserved and shown the respect it deserves. So many people associate the industry just with South Wales and aren’t aware that it has strong roots in North Wales.”

Mr Jones also recalled a time in the late 1970s when he and many of his mining colleagues from Bersham were extras in the making of a film The Corn Is Green with famed actress Katharine Hepburn. The plot is based around a Welsh mining village.

“We didn’t get to meet the stars, but it was very interesting. I have watched the film and can just about see myself in it. They changed the shift patterns a bit so that we could take part. We would do our work, get showered and then black up as miners to be in the film.”

See full story in the Leader

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