Launch Press Release, June 2019
A national, permanent memorial to commemorate the men, women and children who worked in the mining industry and served or died for their country is to be installed at a cost of £100,000. And it is all thanks to a group of volunteers based in towns within the former Cannock Chase Coalfield.
CHAPS (Chase Arts for Public Spaces) has been given the go-ahead to place the monument at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, following numerous requests to the group to find a way of recognising the country’s mining heritage.
The structure, which will stand at 5m long by 2m high and 1m wide, has the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers, MPs representing former mining constituencies and the Arboretum. A site has been identified and the monument is expected to be unveiled in June 2021. It has taken two years of detailed planning to get to this stage.
CHAPS, set up in 2003, works to support and promote public works of art and to celebrate its area’s diverse heritage. The group is behind lasting tributes to the mining community of Cannock, Hednesford and Rugeley. President Mike Mellor said: “During research for these particular projects and from queries received from around the country it appeared many mining areas were without some form of recognition of their mining heritage.”
From that point the idea was conceived and following discussions, a design was agreed upon with sculptor Andy de Comyn, whose work includes the Shot at Dawn memorial at the 150-acre Staffordshire site and a mining sculpture in Rugeley.
Built in Derbyshire stone, the memorial will have a bronze frieze depicting the history of mining including recognising the colliers’ contribution to the two world wars.
Research has discovered that 45 miners were awarded the Victoria Cross following the Great War. The number from the Second World War has yet to be established.
Fundraising will now begin to enable the project to go ahead.
Mr Mellor added: “It’s fantastic that the project has finally gained approval. CHAPS will now engage in raising the appropriate funds to construct the memorial which will honour the contribution miners have made in service to their country.
“We sincerely hope the public approve of our project, particularly those living in areas with a mining heritage, and that they feel able to donate to the project, which will be a fitting legacy to the miners.”
Donations can be made directly to a designated bank account: HSBC Chaps National Miners Memorial; sort code: 40–47–11; account number 33901335.
Cheques can be made payable to Chaps National Miners Memorial and forwarded to honorary treasurer Mr R Ford, 13 Sunny Bank Park, Sunny Bank, Lapley, ST19 9QH. For more details call Mike Mellor on 07583 655199.
Chase MP Amanda Milling is supportive of the project. She said: “CHAPS have done amazing work creating mining memorials across Cannock Chase I am delighted that they have secured a Miners’ Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. “With such a rich mining heritage in Cannock Chase it is fitting that CHAPS, a local group, have led this initiative. I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in getting us to this point in the process and I look forward to continuing to support this project.”