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Sculpture for Pretoria Pit disaster mine blast victims

A sculpture to remember the 344 men and boys who died 100 years ago in one of the UK's worst mining disasters has been unveiled.

A huge explosion ripped through the Hulton Colliery, known as the Pretoria Pit, on the outskirts of Westhoughton, Bolton, on 21 December 1910.

When the shift began 898 men and boys had been working underground.

The sculpture of a kneeling miner was commissioned by Westhoughton Town Council to mark the centenary.

It was unveiled in the town on Sunday by mayor and local expert on the disaster, Councillor Brian Clare.

The explosion had a devastating impact on the town, with almost every family knowing someone who had been affected by the blast.

The youngest victims were just 13, and the eldest 61. It took weeks to bury all the bodies - 229 were laid to rest in Westhoughton.

The centenary will be marked on Tuesday with the unveiling of a mural by local artist Andrew Smith in Westhoughton's Carnegie Hall.

A requiem mass will also be held at Sacred Heart RC Church in Westhoughton on Tuesday evening.

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