AW sponsor community mining memorial

AW Repair Group is proud to sponsor a touching memorial commemorating lives lost in mining disasters near its Chesterfield Site.

Phase two of the Walking Together Trail sees eight life-size steel figures join the trail of 53 figures erected last year. Each carries a tag with the name of the miner, their job title and age who lost their life in the major mining disasters of 1937, 1938 & 1973 at the Markham Colliery.

The former colliery site was reclaimed by Henry Boot Developments and Derby County Council, which is working to create jobs for local people. In March 2015, AW Repair Group opened their fourth site at the flagship regeneration park at Markham Vale, just off junction 29A of the M1 and created 14-jobs in the area.

The 15,000 sq. ft. bodyshop was constructed by the county council’s private sector developer, Henry Boot Ltd. Since opening the site has recruited three apprentices to work in the vehicle body repair industry which add to the groups other 16 students in their Training & Apprenticeship Academy.

AW employees were pleased to attend to see the unveiling of the figure they have sponsored, remembering timber drawer Herbert Wale who lost his life aged 40.

Managing Director Andrew Walsh said he was privileged to support the Walking Together Trail.

It’s great to be able to contribute to a memorial that’s not only so important to this local community but also for visitors to reflect and interpret the site’s history, following the tragedies of the disasters at the colliery. We welcome anyone who visits our site at Markham Vale to walk over the road to the Markham Vale Environment Centre to view just a selection of the figures or indeed follow the whole trail,” said Andrew.

On 21 January 1937 an underground explosion claimed the lives of nine men, followed by a second explosion in 1938, where 79 miners lost their lives and 40 were seriously injured. The third disaster at the colliery took the lives of eighteen miners and 11 others suffered serious injuries when the mechanical brake on a lift carrying them to the coalface failed on 30 July, 1973.

Heritage Lottery Fund, Derby County Council (DCC) & the local community joined forces to create the trail symbolising a miner’s journey to the pit and back home again.

Designed by artist Stephen Broadbent, the dramatic figures have been created for visitors, workers and the local community to re-imagine and remember the lives of all miners, and in particular, those who lost their lives for their work.

“Markham’s three significant mining disasters must be remembered, but it quickly becomes clear that we must not forget the many other tragic mining deaths and significant injuries, and indeed the remarkable sacrifice all miners made to help build this nation’s prosperity. We believe the memorial also needs to convey a sense of celebration; of an important job well done; of a unique time and place; and a community’s spirit and resilience,” Stephen commented.

The memorial project won the award for ‘best volunteer project’ and the Markham Vale Heritage Group was also highly commended recognising the involvement of young people in heritage with its Story Mine project at the 2019 Derbyshire Heritage Awards.

The full trail map can be found here:


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