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.
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 for a National Memorial 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 as well as other memorials at the NMA 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, whilst 2 who served in the Second World War were awarded this honour.
Mr Mellor added at that time [June 2019]: “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.
CHAPS is delighted to have such a splendid site for the National Miners’ Memorial; it will give miners – and their families – the recognition they so richly deserve.
Fundraising began in 2019 to enable the project to go ahead. Covid-19 has meant that traditional fundraising in the form of concerts, dances, coffee mornings and speakers has had to be put on hold – events such as these, along with many individual donations all within the Cannock Chase Area, has already raised around £20,000.00
But this is a National project – and people and groups around the country are now being given the opportunity to be a part of this
Donations can be made at:
BBC Midlands Today filmed us at our site at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire!
It was a super morning when reporter Olivia Hutchinson interviewed artist Andy de Comyn, Len Prince, ex-miner and member of CHAPS, and Mike Mellor, President of CHAPS and project manager, all filmed by cameraman Mark Scriven.
They, together with producer Tim Aviss, put together a fabulous piece showing the magnificence of the NMA, the work undertaken by all those working in the coal mines and the passion and enthusiasm of Andy, Len and Mike to achieve this National Memorial to our miners.
The film can be watched at
It is also available on iplayer
This TV piece launched the opportunity for individuals or groups to be directly involved with the Memorial and to ensure it is built for future generations to know the importance of coal mining and all who worked in the industry.
YOU CAN BE INVOLVED!
CHAPS is delighted that artist Andy de Comyn has agreed to allow them to offer the 22 bronze panels on the memorial depicting the history of coal mining to be ‘sold’ at a sponsorship cost of £2,500.00 each. The person or group purchasing would be acknowledged in a book to be produced for the dedication of the memorial and would also receive a full size plaster cast of the panel.
Individuals or groups are invited to sponsor one of the plaques as shown below; choose your plaque and register your pledge on 07583 655199 or via their FaceBook page.