June 11, 2022 | ChatWhit Admin
Chatterley Whitfield Friends are a small group of volunteers who are guardians of the the artefacts, documents, plans and mining equipment which were abandoned when the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Museum closed in September 1993.
In 2018 they were given the opportunity by Stoke on Trent City Council to develop a Heritage Centre in a vacant building, which was formerly the Geology Offices, just outside the main colliery site.
In 2019 the Friends noticed that a compound at the rear of the Heritage Centre contained a large amount abandoned mining equipment and was basically a waste land. An idea was muted amongst the Friends to initially create a Memorial in honour of all the miners who lost their lives in World War One. However through the enthusiasm shown by all the members a new Memorial Garden was created, with a memorial to the 1881 disaster, a memorial to all the miners who lost their lives at Chatterley, an arbour in remembrance to members recently departed and now most recently the Lidice Memorial.
Why a Memorial to Lidice ?
It all started on a typical Thursday morning at Chatterley Whitfield. At 9.00am the Friends were, enthusiastically, going about the many various tasks underway at the time; forming themselves into small working groups and eager to make some progress both "on-site" and within the Heritage Centre.
Little did we know on this early February 2022 morning - something very big was to begin ......
A colleague came into the office and mentioned Lidice and the special, ongoing, relationship with the miners of Stoke-on-Trent.
What was this all about? We needed to find out more ...
Luckily for us, Jim Worgan, Senior Member of the Friends and "Fount of all Knowledge" as we fondly identify him, was also within listening distance.
Jim, gave further information about Lidice in one of his famous, short (one hour, off-the-cuff) chats! Greatly informative it was too - and "very moving"
Something had to be done by the Friends to help people remember the horrors which took place in the village of Lidice and the part Stoke-on-Trent miners played in the "Lidice Shall Live" Campaign.
Later that same morning, a senior-colleague offered funding for a potential memorial, to be sited in our Garden of Remembrance and Reflection at Chatterley Whitfield.
Another senior-colleague quickly offered to match the funding allowing the journey to begin ...
Sketch designs quickly followed, fired by enthusiasm and the aim of completing the whole project by June 10th 2022. No pressure ......
After refining, the final design took shape and was agreed amongst the Friends.
Utilising an existing coal tub, sitting on rails, an arched-structure was designed and mounted on its top surface ( Bridge across the Sea") This involved sourcing suitable materials and many hours of skilled fabrication by one of our Friends.
The front "ring" of the arch was designed to represent an underground mine-ring which provided safety from ground-fall whilst winning coal.
The rear "ring" of the arch was designed to represent half of a pit-wheel, complete with spokes.
A Miner's Lamp was designed and constructed, by a Friend, to hang beneath the arch and "dispel the shadows on the coalface"
The lamp contains an high-intensity, flicker, LED which is visible in both daylight and darkness.
A "Lidice Shall Live" header-feature was designed and with the kind help of one of our industrial supporters, it sits rightly and proudly at the top of the arched-structure.
Two metal-hands sit, one at each side of the front mine-ring. This is meant to signify "help across the sea" and the continuing relationship between Lidice and the City of Stoke-on-Trent miners.
A Stafford Knot has been superbly crafted and fixed to the LHS of the mine tub. This represents how proud we are in providing support to Lidice during times of great loss.
The tub-surface has been planted with blue pansies to represent the sea and we look forward to red-poppies growing through the "sea of blue" in due course.
A plaque was designed with the words "Ray of Light" which again refers to the famous words of Sir Barnett Stross MP, who masterminded the rebuilding of Lidice.
The "lead-in" to the memorial contains two rows of roses, ranging in colour from white to red. In some small way this is meant to link with the Rose-garden of Peace and Friendship in Lidice, where 24,000 rose plants have been sited.
Our Memorial roses: Dark red - blood of Lidice men executed.- Fiery red: destruction of buildings. - Pink: women sent to concentration camps. - White: lost-children of Lidice.
A single pear-tree stands aside the mine-tub, bringing to mind the terrible loss of lives and destruction which took place in Lidice.
Thanks to all of the Stoke-on-Trent miners who donated wages during personal hardship so that a new Lidice would rise from the ashes.
Thank you to all of the Friends, supporters and sponsors who have made this vision become a reality .... and on time!
It is true to say that this journey of design and construction has been both enjoyable. moving and educational to us all.
LIDICE SHALL LIVE
Design - Alan Danby - Main Sponsors Michael Ansell and James Worgan