Opening the New Surface Gallery

On Sunday we held the official opening of our New Surface Gallery. This is a recreation of a section of a coal mine above ground that is accessible to a wider audience who may not be able or want to go underground. It will also be a great addition to our educational visits. Amongst the guests invited were Aaron Bell MP and the new Mayor and Mayoress of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Ken Owen and Rachel Eaton.

The gallery itself originally came from Kellingley Colliery after it closed in 2015, ending deep coal mining in the UK, and was used for training miners on the surface. Our mining team re-erected it at Apedale and have been hard at work turning it into our latest exhibit. The gallery is entered through a ‘cage’ that used to lower miners down the shaft at Annesley Colliery, adding to the experience. This has been on site from the early days of the Heritage Centre and is current undergoing renovation to preserve it.

After the opening, a memorial service was held outside by Rev Simon Boxall, for the Holditch Colliery Disaster. On July 2nd, 1937 a fire broke out on one of the coal faces at Holditch. 30 men lost their lives due to the fire and subsequent explosions. Jim Worgan, a local mining historian and former curator of Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum gave an account of the events of that day.

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