Ex-miner's tribute to Leeds's Primrose Hill Colliery in Swillington unveiled

Bill Heszelgrave at the unveiling of a pit tub full of primroses in memory of the long-gone Primrose Pit at Swillington. Picture by Steve Riding.
Bill Heszelgrave at the unveiling of a pit tub full of primroses in memory of the long-gone Primrose Pit at Swillington. Picture by Steve Riding.

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

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

Helen Pratt , community curator at Temple Newsam House and former Primrose Hill  miner Ron Taylor with an original banner to be used in an exhibition. It was too delicate to take outside. Picture: Steve Riding.

Helen Pratt , community curator at Temple Newsam House and former Primrose Hill miner Ron Taylor with an original banner to be used in an exhibition. It was too delicate to take outside. Picture: Steve Riding.

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.

Memories of the mines: pit ponies, disasters and a lot way of life
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 to 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.”

Ex-mining site between Leeds and Castleford is nature haven
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, which is being kept in the village hall, ahead of an exhibition at Temple Newsam that former mine workers are helping to organise.

The exhibition will be about mining and is due to open in May.

A group of locals called the Elderberries at Swillington have also been making a “rag rug” that will sit in front of a fireplace during the display.