Fitting tribute made to village’s mining men

Bill Heszelgrave at the unveiling of a  pit tub full of primroses in memory of the long-gone Primrose Pit.
Bill Heszelgrave at the unveiling of a pit tub full of primroses in memory of the long-gone Primrose Pit.

A fitting floral tribute to pit workers in a traditional coal mining village has been unveiled.

Primrose Hill Colliery in Swillington opened in 1893 and at its peak employed more than 1,000 people.

Mr Morley and Mr Matthewman photographed at Primrose Hill Colliery in September 1969.

Mr Morley and Mr Matthewman photographed at Primrose Hill Colliery in September 1969.

It closed in 1970, after which many of its workers found jobs at other pits in the surrounding areas.

Former employee of 10 years Bill Heszelgrave, 80, and his wife Val, 70, have paid £1,100 for a pit tub to be constructed, which has been filled with primroses in memory of the old mine’s grafters.

Constructed by Graham Robson of the Grange Iron Company in Durham, the tub now sits in pride of place opposite the church in Wakefield Road.

It was unveiled on Saturday after judges at the summer In Bloom competition last year told locals that they would have liked to have seen decorative features paying tribute the area’s mining history.

Mr Heszelgrave, of Preston View, said: “It’s about time there was something to remember the men who worked in the Swillington pit.

“There’s a lot of people who walk by it (the tub) and they’re right enthralled with it.” A group of people including former miners, their grandchildren, the Reverend Diane Flynn and Coun Mark Dobson, leader of the Garforth and Swillington Independents Group, turned out for the unveiling.

Mr Heszelgrave said: “It went really well. There was actually more than we expected, it was surprising.”

Leeds City Council representatives also handed over a National Union of Mineworkers banner from the old pit.

It is being kept in the village hall, ahead of an exhibition at Temple Newsam that former mine workers are helping to organise.

The exhibition is due to open in May.