PRESS STATEMENT – FRIDAY, 17 MARCH 2023
Please find a statement from Stuart Elgar, Chair, Kent Mining Heritage Foundation regarding proposals for the re-siting of the Waiting Miner Memorial.
“We’re proud of what has been achieved since Kent Mining Museum launched a year ago after so many years of campaigning to make it happen. Over 24,000 people have visited to date, many of them discovering the story of the East Kent Coalfield and the communities which grew up around them for the first time.
“In recent days, we have become aware of misleading comments on Facebook regarding the future of the Waiting Miner memorial at the entrance to Betteshanger Country Park, a statue that has rightly come to symbolise the area’s rich mining heritage and those who lost their lives working at the Kent Coalfield.
“This sculpture of a Kent coal miner with a distinctive miner’s hat and lamp was first commissioned in 1966 by the Central Electricity Generating Board for a northern colliery before coming to Kent. It was placed at Richborough power station before being re-sited outside the National Coal Board’s offices in Dover.
“When those offices closed a campaign was launched by the local mining community, which resulted in the statue being moved in 2010 to its current location on a roundabout just off the A258 Sandwich to Deal road.
“It is the view of the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation and many former miners and their families in the area that once the museum was open that the Waiting Miner statue would be moved to a more appropriate location as part of a future phase of development. This will make the statue more accessible, more secure and also link with important research projects, carried out by ex miners, into those who had lost their lives working in the Kent Coalfield.
“We have been working for some time on the best way to deliver that, in order to protect the wishes of the community. We have come up with a proposal that we believe would integrate it more closely with the work of the museum, while also providing an improved memorial space where people could come and reflect.
“Our intention is for the Waiting Miner statue to be sited immediately outside the museum building as a focal point of the vistors’ centre, welcoming people as they arrive, together with improved interpretation panels that will explain more about its history.
“In addition, we recognise that there would be a gap in the space where the miner was once situated and we intend to construct a replica pit-head gear to create a new focal point at the entrance to Betteshanger Country Park. This will be the centrepiece of a restored and improved memorial garden commemorating all those who lost their lives working the seams at collieries across East Kent and also serve as a recognizable symbol to mark a site of mining heritage.
“These proposals remain at an early stage and require planning permission. We will continue to listen and take on board the views of the local mining communities as they progress. The trustees, many of whom including myself are all former miners, are driven by how best we can share our story – and that is what continues to drive us.
“We have been delighted at the positive reception the Kent Mining Museum has received since it opened a year ago next month and we are looking forward to building on the success to date in promoting the story of Kent’s rich mining heritage far and wide,”
For media enquiries, please contact Lee Winter at Pillory Barn at email@example.com or call 07984 813911