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Sculpture hooks up to rich mining heritage

By Toby Neal | Bridgnorth | Features | Published:

A commemorative sculpture honouring the miners who toiled at one of Shropshire's last coal mines has been unveiled as part of events marking the 50th anniversary of the pit's closure.

Former mine workers, family members, friends and visitors were at the ceremony at the Severn Valley Country Park, Alveley, which is at the site of the old Alveley colliery, where the last coal was mined on January 31, 1969.

The sculpture is made from an Ormerod cage detaching hook, which was a safety device which prevented cages being accidentally overwound when being brought back up to the pithead.

A plaque on the sculpture reads: "Dedicated to the men, women and boys who worked at Alveley and Highley collieries. This 'detaching hook' is of the type used at both collieries and positioned here to mark fifty years since the closure of Alveley mine in 1969. MMXIX."

The ceremony organised by Alveley Mining Heritage Group was conducted by the Mayor of Bridgnorth, Ron Whittle, and also attended by Mayoress Carol Whittle. Ron is a member of the heritage group and has supported its events over the years.

A close-up of the plaque

Andrea Edwards, who chairs the group, said: "The installation has been hampered by the adverse weather. However the mud and water on the site did not impact on the beautiful autumn day and spirits of everyone in attendance.

"The Whittle family has a long association with mining in the area.

"Ron's father and his two brothers, two grandfathers and at least four uncles all worked at Highley and Alveley pits. The family business transported workers to and from such places as Clee Hill, Bridgnorth and Menith Wood.

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"Ron himself used to taxi miners who worked late shifts.

"The sculpture adds to other past tributes in the area to celebrate the rich mining heritage.

The commemorative sculpture

"For those with an interest in mining in the area Alveley Mining Heritage Group has displayed a number of mining artefacts loaned by local people which are on public view until the end of this year at The Severn Centre Highley, the latest of which are from Kinlet, Highley, Billingsley and Alveley mines."

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The Highley Mining Company already had a colliery at Highley when it sunk a new shaft at Alveley in the 1930s, where production started in 1938. The Highley mine subsequently closed. The old mine was linked underground to the new colliery at Alveley, which despite its location was routinely known as Highley Colliery.

At its peak the mine employed 1,000 men and produced 300,000 tonnes of coal a year.

After the closure in 1969 the colliery site at Alveley lay derelict until 1986 when a project was launched to create Severn Valley Country Park which saw the reclamation of the land. The park opened in 1992.

The last Shropshire coal mine of all was Granville Colliery on the edge of Telford, which closed in 1979.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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