Miners pay tribute to pit disaster victims

Lofthouse pit disaster 40th anniversay.'The men who were part of the pit rescue team during the 1973 Lofthouse pit disaster.'L to R) Jack Tallet, Peter Weighland, Jack Durham, Bill Cave, Tony Banks (main organiser of the event), Billy Morley, David Hagen, Bernard Dunhill, Keith Stone.'w309a314
Lofthouse pit disaster 40th anniversay.'The men who were part of the pit rescue team during the 1973 Lofthouse pit disaster.'L to R) Jack Tallet, Peter Weighland, Jack Durham, Bill Cave, Tony Banks (main organiser of the event), Billy Morley, David Hagen, Bernard Dunhill, Keith Stone.'w309a314

Emotional tributes were made by the retired miners who risked their lives to try and rescue their trapped colleagues during the Lofthouse Colliery disaster.

Remembrance services, a parade and reunions took place to mark 40 years since the tragedy.

Survivors met with families of the seven men who died when water, slush and debris rushed into South 9B coalface on March 21, 1973. The water trapped and killed seven workers 750ft below ground.

There had been around 30 miners working on a coalface near to an abandoned and flooded 19th century mineshaft when the accident happened.

And hundreds more miners were involved in a week-long rescue operation.

Special events were organised by Lofthouse Disaster Trust chairman Tony Banks, who had also been working that fatal night.

Mr Banks, 70, of Kirkhamgate, said: “It was an emotional experience, but it was also great to see so many people.

“When I saw the crowds of people who turned up I was gob smacked. To say they came out in this weather shows how dedicated people are to pay respect to their old friends.”

On Saturday a remembrance service was held at Outwood Parish Church, followed by a brass band concert by Lofthouse 2000 and reunion at Ledger Lane WMC.

Old miners reminisced about their roles during the tragic events as Outwood Community Video Club showed a film from 1973.

Only one body was ever recovered after a the six-day rescue mission.

The other six bodies are believed to have been entombed under a site on Batley Road, where the Lofthouse Memorial Garden now stands.

A service was held on the site on Sunday, followed by a parade to St Paul’s Church, in Alverthorpe, where there was a collection of memorabilia.

The service and parade was attended by local groups, bishops, deacons and Morley and Outwood MP Ed Balls.

Mr Banks added: “I would like to thank everyone who helped make the weekend possible, from both churches to the mayor’s office, band, working men’s club, the video club and Horticare Garden Centre.

“We had special support with food and money donated by Hofmann’s and Allum’s butchers, Speedibake, Co-op, NUM, NCMM, Peter Poole, Peter Lazenby, Coun Charlie Keith, David Wilkinson and anyone else I have forgotten .”