14th December 2017
The mining heritage of a local country park will be immortalised in a new piece of art set to be unveiled next month.
A three-metre high sculpture depicting members of the local mining community will be installed on Silverdale Country Park as part of Silverdale – Our Story’, a 12-month project to record the memories of villagers and ex-miners who worked at the former colliery.
The project, made possible by National Lottery players via the Heritage Lottery Fund, also used oral and written accounts, as well as photographs from people who lived and worked at the site near Newcastle-under-Lyme to create an interpretation trail and a dedicated website.
The artwork built from sheet steel was designed and built by community artist Luke Perry and was inspired by ideas from children at Silverdale Primary Academy.
Headteacher Lindi Nejrup said, “Luke visited the Academy earlier this year to hear the youngsters’ ideas, with pupils feeling it important that the finished artwork took into consideration not just the colliery and the miners, but their families and fellow villagers.
“The children really enjoyed being involved in this exciting project, talking to community members to find out what life was like in the village years ago and then helping bring that history to life.”
The piece depicts both ex-miner Ken Healey and leading local community figure Joan Price.
Mining operations were carried out on site from the late 18th century to Christmas Eve 1998, and the area went on to be transformed as part of a restoration project funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) using money from its National Coalfields Programme.
In 2009 ownership was transferred to national land management charity the Land Trust, and Groundwork West Midlands was appointed to provide the day-to-day management.
Under this management the 83-hectare park has recently gone on to achieve national recognition in the form a Land Trust Award, Heart of England in Bloom Gold Award and achieve Green Flag status.
Chris Leech, Community Project Co-ordinator at Groundwork West Midlands said, “We’ve worked in partnership with a range of local people including former miners, local residents and school and university students so we can properly tell the story of Silverdale’s fascinating past
“The installation of this artwork celebrates the lasting legacy the mining community has had not only on the landscape, but on local people.”
Last month over 200 people attended a celebration event organised by the charity to mark the end of the ‘Our Story’ project.
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