Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sculpture unveiled to commemorate Oaks Colliery blast

Image caption The sculpture was made by a local artist who lost a relative in the blast

A sculpture has been unveiled to remember the 383 coal miners killed in a devastating explosion at a Barnsley pit.

Boys as young as 10 died at Oaks Colliery following two explosions between 12 and 13 December 1866.

Many of the bodies were never recovered in what is thought to be England's worst mining disaster.

The £125,000 statue was made by local sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who lost a relative in the blast.

"I'm the son of a Barnsley miner. My mining heritage goes back 200 years," he said.

"I'm 65 and I feel as if this was a sculpture I was born to make."

The explosion, thought to have been caused by flammable gases, buried the miners in the workings. A second explosion killed 27 rescuers the following day.

Barnsley Main colliery took over the workings of the Oaks Colliery and the surviving engine house and pithead structures were given Grade II listed status in 2013.

Image caption The engine house and pithead structures of the colliery which replaced the Oaks still stands at the site

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