Featherstone pit wheel sculpture to celebrate town’s proud mining heritage

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A pit wheel sculpture is to be installed in Featherstone to celebrate the town’s proud mining heritage.

The 2.5 tonne piece of art, called The Unbroken Wheel, will go on permanent next to Wakefield Road.

The site is near to where the pit headgear of one Featherstone’s former collieries used to be.

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Wakefield Council has granted panning permission for the work, by artist Luke Perry, which will feature two, four meter-high decommissioned mining wheels.

Picture of men and boys walking from Featherstone Main Colliery, thought to have been taken between 1915 and 1925. Image courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.Picture of men and boys walking from Featherstone Main Colliery, thought to have been taken between 1915 and 1925. Image courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.
Picture of men and boys walking from Featherstone Main Colliery, thought to have been taken between 1915 and 1925. Image courtesy of Wakefield Libraries.

Large steel structures either side of the wheels will feature text created by local writer Ian Clayton and members of the community.

The sculpture has been commissioned by Featherstone Town Council.

Town councillors described the project as an opportunity to celebrate the town’s mining heritage “through a form that is sensitive, reflective and positive whilst also inspiring the next generation.”

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A planning statement submitted to the local authority says: “This new permanent artwork will be a sculptural symbol of a community whose labour fuelled the nation, their past and future connected.

A 1:10 scale model of a sculpture be installed in Featherstone to celebrate the town's proud mining heritage. The 2.5 tonne piece of art, called The Unbroken Wheel, will go on permanent next to Wakefield Road.A 1:10 scale model of a sculpture be installed in Featherstone to celebrate the town's proud mining heritage. The 2.5 tonne piece of art, called The Unbroken Wheel, will go on permanent next to Wakefield Road.
A 1:10 scale model of a sculpture be installed in Featherstone to celebrate the town's proud mining heritage. The 2.5 tonne piece of art, called The Unbroken Wheel, will go on permanent next to Wakefield Road.

“It will highlight the strength of those whose work built and supported the town whilst unifying the community in celebration of its heritage, creating a unique symbol for its current and future people.”

The wheels will be in contrasting colours.

A ‘heritage’ wheel be in red oxide paint and a ‘hope’ wheel in galvanised silver.

Featherstone, like many communities in the Wakefield district, grew around the coal industry.

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Ackton Hall Colliery was one of three large mines which in Featherstone. Image courtesy of Wakefield LibrariesAckton Hall Colliery was one of three large mines which in Featherstone. Image courtesy of Wakefield Libraries
Ackton Hall Colliery was one of three large mines which in Featherstone. Image courtesy of Wakefield Libraries

By the end of the 19th century, the population had increased to over 10,000 as mining boomed to fuel the industrial revolution.

Men and boys were employed in three main collieries: Featherstone Main, Ackton Hall and Snydale.

During the history of the three pits, over 300 miners lost their lives at work.

The town came to national attention in 1893 when when soldiers were ordered to shoot at a crowd of striking miners, killing two.

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The event became known as the Featherstone Massacre and a distinctive sculpture making its centenary stands in Station Lane.

Ackton Hall was the first mine to close after the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

In 2018, another piece of prominent public art, War Horse, was unveiled in Featherstone to commemorate the 353 soldiers from the town who were killed during the First World War.