Lofthouse Colliery miners remembered at services

A tunnel in the Lofthouse Colliery The bodies of six miners still remain in the mine

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A memorial service to remember seven miners killed in the Lofthouse Colliery disaster, near Wakefield, 40 years ago has taken place.

The men died when the seam they were working flooded after they had cut into an abandoned shaft, releasing three million gallons of trapped water.

The service was held at Outwood Parish Church, Wakefield.

A further service was held on Sunday in the village of Wrenthorpe at the site where the men died.

Frederick Armitage, 41, Colin Barnaby, 36, Frank Billingham, 48, Sydney Brown, 36, Charles Cotton, 49, Edward Finnegan, 40 and Alan Haigh, 30, all died in the disaster on 21 March 1973.

Only Mr Cotton's body was recovered from the disaster. The bodies of the six other men remain in the mine.

After the service, a reunion for miners and the families of the men that died will be held at the Ledger Lane Working Men's Club, where the Lofthouse 2000 Brass Band will perform.

'Feel the pain'

The service earlier was held at the memorial garden in Wrenthorpe and was led by the Bishop of Pontefract.

A procession of ex-miners and local dignitaries are expected to walk for more than a mile from the memorial garden to a church in Alverthorpe, where a documentary film will be shown of the disaster.

Eddie Downes, member of the Lofthouse Colliery Action Group and a mining historian and engineer, said more than 1,000 people from across the country, many from the mining industry, were expected to attend both services.

"They all feel the pain. It's a unique thing in the mining communities. They all feel for each other," he said.

"The services are extremely important. It gives them some continuity to how it unfolded and will complete the picture."

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