THEY built Ipswich and were at the coalface through thick and thin to make this city great.

Which is why the official opening yesterday of the completed Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial on the feast day of the patron saint of miners, St Barbara, will live on in the memory of thousands.

We will never forget the coalminers that gave so much for the city.

The memorial, with its stratigraphic Ipswich and Rosewood columns illuminated for the first time last night in Limestone Park, will for all eternity ensure the memory of 186 lost legends will be inscribed in our hearts and minds.

The official opening of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial in Limestone Park drew hundreds.
The official opening of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial in Limestone Park drew hundreds. Inga Williams

The Rosewood and Ipswich columns, constructed by Ipswich's own O'Connell Agencies, are a symbol of the tough working conditions of miners who stooped down in mines at times lower than one metre high.

The memorial's trust, under the stewardship of chairman Beres Evans, raised funds in a tough economic climate to ensure the trust's vision would be realised.

The trust's committee are what may be called ' a few good men'. But what power a few good men have when the cause is just and true.

The donors to the memorial were many. They are too many to list here, but all coalminers say thank you to each and every one.

The memorial wall, already completed, tells a story of tragedy and triumph.

Committed to the cause though they all were, 186 coalminers lost their lives from 1858 until 1997.

They were all men and boys, one as young as 14.

 

Former coalminers look on as the memorial lights up for the first time.
Former coalminers look on as the memorial lights up for the first time. Inga Williams

The first, Welshman John Jones, perished in an explosive blast at Moggill Mine.

The last, St Barbara bless him, was Trevor Domrow who was lost to this world at New Hill Mine in 1997.

Graham Brennan, who was a maintenance fitter at the Tivoli Collieries, was in a reflective mood when he gazed at the names of his two late uncles on the memorial wall.

His great uncle Wilfred Brennan, 24, died at the Blackheath No. 4 Colliery on August 10, 1938.

Mr Brennan's uncle William Colin Brennan, 17, died three days short of his 18th birthday at The Caledonian No.3 Colliery at Walloon the following year on May 26.

 

Beres Evans stands proudly in front of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial in Limestone Park.
Beres Evans stands proudly in front of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial in Limestone Park. Inga Williams

Known as Col, the teenager was one of Graham's father's bothers. His loss cut the family to the core, and Graham revealed just how much.

"My dad was one of nine boys and quite a number of them worked in the pits. My grandfather also did," Mr Brennan recalled.

"Uncle Col was his offsider and grandpa was working with him...and he never recovered from it.

"Grandpa died from a broken heart at 55 years of age. He'd lost his workmate. He started work when he was 11 after he was orphaned at nine.

"I'm just pleased the memorial is finally here so we can come and pay our respects.

"But the most important thing about this memorial is to educate current generations about what it was like to work in the mines. The majority of their working day was spent working on hands and knees."



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