Memorial service on 125th anniversary 63 men and boys killed in explosion at Peckfield Pit in Leeds

The Archbishop of York will lead a memorial service in a Leeds village on the 125th anniversary of a mining tragedy which saw 63 men and boys killed in an underground pit explosion.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 5:10 pm
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell

The Rt Reverend Stephen Cottrell will be remembering the victims of the disaster at Peckfield Pit, Micklefield, on April 30, 1896.

The memorial service will be held at 7.30pm on Friday April 30 at the memorial to the victims outside St Mary’s Church, Micklefield.

Lord Mayor of Leeds Coun Eileen Taylor and Leeds City Council leader Coun James Lewis will be at the service along with representatives from Micklefield Parish Council, the NUM and the wider mining community.

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Rev Wendy Plant at the memorial to the victims outside St Mary’s Church, Micklefield.

Wreaths will be laid and 63 candles will be placed around the memorial as a choir of children from Micklefield Primary School lead singing.

The service is one of three commemoration events taking place on Friday and over the weekend.

At 7am on Friday - the time of the first explosion - the name of every person who died will be read out during a service at the memorial.

The aftermath of the disaster at Peckfield Colliery

People attending that service will be asked to place 63 crosses bearing a victim's name in the border surrounding the memorial.

And at 7.20am - the time of the second and most devastating explosion - the church bell at St Mary's, Micklefield, will be tolled 63 times.

Church bells will also toll in neighbouring parish churches of Garforth, Kippax, Aberford and Sherburn-in-Elmet as some of the victims came from those villages.

At 9.30am on Sunday at St Mary's Church there will be a requiem mass for all those who have died in the mining industry.

The memorial to the victims outside St Mary’s Church, Micklefield.

Reverend Wendy Plant of St Mary's Church, said: "There are a lot of ex-miners living in the village.

"There are still a lot of people who can track their ancestry back to people who died and people who worked in the pit at that time."

"A lot of people in the mining community are coming because they are paying respects to former miners and that is important to them.

"It has become very obvious how close the mining community still is."

Rev Plant said there is a folder in the church containing details on all 63 victims - their ages, where they came from, what job they did and how they died.

Micklefield villager Dennis Best's great grandfather Walter Winfield, and two of Walter’s brothers were killed in the explosion.

Dennis, 75, and friends Ashley Land and Chris Baker have created an information leaflet on the history and legacy of the disaster.

Dennis, a former pony driver at the old Peckfield Colliery, said the leaflet also includes a map for an informative heritage walk around the village.

Local councillors James Lewis, Mirelle Midgley and Mary Harland had hoped to work alongside residents on a series of events to remember those who lost their lives and the families who were left behind. Covid meant the plans had to be cancelled, leading to the leaflet being created.

Ashley Land wrote about the history of the disaster on the leaflet, which was designed by Micklefield resident Chris Baker.

The leaflets are being delivered to all Micklefield households this month.