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Oaks Disaster 1866

Council supports Memorial to the Oaks Disaster
25 November 2016
Barnsley Council will offer support to People and Mining and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), as their plans for a Memorial to the Oaks Disaster moves closer to completion.

People and Mining and the Joint Groups supported by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have worked tirelessly to raise funds to create a national monument to mark the hundreds of lives lost in the worst mining disaster in England. Barnsley sculptor Graham Ibbeson has created the monument and has not charged for his services. The group have raised over one hundred thousand pounds for the memorial sculpture, which will be placed in the town centre.

The artwork will be installed off Church Street by Sunday, 7 May. This date marks the 150th anniversary of the The Oaks Colliery Explosion official report being laid to parliament and the 70th anniversary of the explosion at Barnsley Main, which killed 9 people in 1947.

People and Mining, supported by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), will continue to raise funds for the project beyond Monday, 12 December. Alongside the funds raised, the organisation will also receive a financial contribution from Barnsley Council who will also provide practical support with the associated landscaping scheme and installation of the sculpture.

The artwork, which will include interpretation boards listing where possible those who lost their lives in the disaster, will be adopted by Barnsley Council to ensure the Memorial is maintained for future generations and provide a focal point to this important historic event for visitors from around the country.

England’s worst mining catastrophe will be remembered in a series of commemorative events taking place in Barnsley in December.

People and Mining and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will attend a formal gathering at the Town Hall hosted by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) on the evening of Monday, 12 December. The event will include talks, readings and the showing of a film. Present will be descendants of those who died, dignitaries, and the local community - along with volunteers and groups involved in the anniversary. Members of the public are also invited to attend. Ian McMillan, Barnsley’s Poet Laureate, is writing a special poem to mark the occasion, which he will read at the event.

A memorial was raised at Christ Church, Ardsley in 1879 which is marked to 354 victims, and for the 150th anniversary, a team of specialists will be restoring the stonework. A special memorial service will take place at the church on Sunday, 11 December at 3pm and a reading of the names will start at 1:15pm on Monday, 12 December.

On the morning of Sunday, 11 December the Barnsley Main Heritage Group will be placing named wooden crosses in the ground at Barnsley Main, close to the location of the old Oaks Colliery ventilation shaft.

On 12 December there will be a floral and symbolistic tribute outside the NUM Offices in Barnsley.

On 12 December until 16 December there will be a display relating to the Oaks and the memorial open to the public in the Miners Hall, Victoria Road entrance.

Commemorative events will close with a talk at St. Edward’s, Kingstone, at 2pm and a special service at St. Mary’s, Barnsley, at 7pm on Wednesday, 14 December

‘When the Oaks Fired’, an exhibition that focuses on the human stories of the disaster, will run at Experience Barnsley from Wednesday, 30 November to Wednesday, 8 February.

The evening event and exhibition are being delivered by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) and Barnsley Council. The DVLP is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – thanks to National Lottery players.

Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council said: “People and Mining and the NUM have done an incredible job in raising over £100,000 to create a lasting memorial to the Oaks Colliery disaster, the Council are very pleased to be able to provide support to enable the sculpture to be installed and provide a focal point to this important historic event for residents and visitors to Barnsley”.
For more information about the Oaks Memorial please visit and for details about the exhibition please visit and

Welcome to the Oaks Colliery 1866 Disaster Website The Oaks Colliery Disaster, Barnsley, Yorkshire happened on 12 and 13 December 1866. It resulted in 361 deaths during two separate explosions and remains the worst pit disaster ever in England in terms of lives lost. The research and content of this...


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