Remembering Lofthouse pit disaster victims

LOFTHOUSE COLLIERY DISASTER 1973
LOFTHOUSE COLLIERY DISASTER 1973

Seven men who died in a pit disaster 40 years ago will be remembered during a special event later this month.

On March 21, 1973, water, slush and debris rushed into Lofthouse Colliery, trapping the workers 750ft below ground.

Around 30 miners had been excavating a coalface near to the abandoned and flooded 19th century mineshaft when the accident happened.

Only one body was recovered after a six-day rescue operation.

Tony Banks had been working in another section of the colliery and is now chairman of the Lofthouse Disaster Trust.

He is appealing for family and friends of those who died to attend a number of events being held to mark the occasion.

Mr Banks, 70, of Kirkhamgate said: “We felt the full blast of it and what happened that day will stay with me forever.

“It is important to remember those who died as a lot of people see the memorial but don’t realise what happened.

“It doesn’t want forgetting. It is important that we keep it going as it is the history of this area.”

The victims were Edward Finnegan, 40, of Kikhamgate, William Armitage, 41, of Eastmoor, Alan Haigh, 30, of Outwood, Sydney St Clair Brown, 36, of Leeds, Colin Barnaby, 36, of East Ardsley, Charles Cotton, 49, of Leeds and Frank Billingham, 48, of Flanshaw.

They left six widows and 22 children.

And their names feature on a memorial on Batley Road, in Wrenthorpe.

On Saturday, March 23, a service will be held at Outwood Parish Church at 1pm.

Then from 2pm there will be a reunion for mineworkers and families of the men who lost their lives at Ledger Lane WMC. There will also be entertainment from Lofthouse 2000 Band.

After the concert Outwood Community Video Club will show a film from 1973 about the disaster.

The following day there will be a short service at 3.15pm at the Lofthouse Memorial Garden on Batley Road, followed by events at St Paul’s Church, in Alverthorpe.

To find out more contact Mr Banks on 01924 378527.