About - Move the Miner
The Miner’s Statue was commissioned by the Central Electricity Board, the sculpture was Mr. H.R. Philips and it was originally bound for FerryBridge power station in Yorkshire. However it was later decided to site the statue outside Richborough power station to commend the Miner’s of Kent for recognition of all their hard work and toil in keeping the Power Station working and producing electricity all year round. When the station closed the C.E.B donated the statue to D.D.C, with DoverMuseum being the curators, they then had to find an appropriate place for the Statue to be sited.
They sort guidance from the Kent Miner’s leaders at that time. They, in turn, consulted all the Mining Communities and quickly realised that everyone wanted to offer a new home for the statue. They began to realise that the Statue held great importance to all miner’s and their families. Every Pit, Village and Town wanted the Statue at their favoured place. The reality was clear to everyone involved that it was not going to be an easy task, choosing a new site. Each and every community, were putting forward their reasons and thinking, as to why their pit or community should have preference over their neighbours, the problem was, they were all, right. They all had valid reasoning for claiming the Statue and heated exchanges were beginning to occur. The obvious problem was, and still is, there is only one Statue but it was to commemorate all Kent Miners. So, as we understand it, the Museum and Miners leaders decided to place the Statue next to the National Coal board offices, on Dover Seafront, because this was the only neutral place in the Kent Mining area, at that time. This avoided more clashes within the Communities themselves but, apart from Miner’s and the people of Dover, many people were very disappointed with this decision. The grumblings and groans have continued over the years, in conversation’s, at meetings and in the media to the present day.
Many people, not from the mining communities, have asked, what is all the fuss about? Why is the Statue so special to the Miners of Kent?
The Statue is much more than just a figure of a Miner, when people look at statues of famous people, they see the person that the statue represents.
When Miners, members of a Miners family and indeed friends of miners, look at this Statue, they can see whoever they want to see, their father, son, brother, comrade and more. When they look at this Statue, they can conjure up memories, from their time at the collieries, they can recall moments from their past, good times and sad times. This Statue carries the history of Kent Miners within it. With the pits closing one by one, culminating with the closure of the Coalfield in1989. The Statue remains today, as a very important part of our Heritage.
The Coal Board Offices closed down, leaving the Statue isolated on the seafront in Dover. Visitors and even people who have moved into the area, were asking, why is there a Statue of a Miner on the seafront looking out across our channel? A few yards away is a fine Statue of Captain Web and just along a bit further is a lovely new Statue of a Sailor looking across the Harbour, both fitting Statue’s that deserve and have meaning to be on Dover Seafront. Both well worth a visit. The Waiting Miner did not belong there.
The Museum and the people of Dover, have to be applauded for the way they have treated and looked after the Miners Statue and the MoveTheMiner Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank them for doing such a great job.
In 2001, Dover District Council launched the Coalfields Heritage Initiative Kent (CHIK) project. www.dover.gov.uk/kentcoal
The Project’s aim was to preserve and record Kent’s Mining Heritage and they set about creating a Miners Way Trail. It extends for nearly 28 miles and takes you through our beautiful countryside linking Tilmanstone, Snowdon and Betteshanger Collieries and the surrounding picturesque villages of East Kent.
Over the years, letters had appeared in local papers, from miners, still wanting the statue moved to their communities.
When the regeneration program started and they announced that a Miner’s Way Trail was being planned, many miners had the idea, that finally, a new position for the Statue was going to be made available to the Miners of Kent. The Trail was developed and it meandered through the mining communities of Kent leading to many expectations that it was possible that a new site could be found for the statue.
After reading many letters in local press and speaking to many miners, I decided to put a letter in our local papers which asked “is the time right to try and get the statue moved and if so, should we start a campaign to get it moved?” Many people contacted me and said yes, with the Miner’s Way Trail about to open, the time was right to start a campaign.
I arranged our first meeting, by holding a press release at the Statue on the 28/July/2006. We informed the public via local media, of our intentions and invited any person wishing to help with this campaign to join us. We then went onto a meeting with members of Aylesham Parish Council, some of whom were Miners. It was decided at that meeting, to ask all mining areas to choose as many representatives as this wished, to join the campaign, letters and emails were sent to all Parish & Town Councils, inviting them to join the campaign and seek permission to move the Statue.
Our first committee meeting was held at Betteshanger Welfare club on 6/ 09/2006; at this meeting and subsequent meetings the Chairperson, Gary Cox, Sec & Treasurer, Peter Holden and Committee Members, Helen Bartello , Cyril Rogers, Christine Haggart, Steve Stevenson, Lawrence Knight and Phil Sutcliffe (vice-Chairperson) were duly elected. Kent County Councillor Mrs Eileen Rowbotham was voted on as advisor to the Campaign.
It was decided to call this the MoveTheMiner Campaign. It was decided that Gary Cox & Peter Holden arrange a meeting with Dover District Council to inquire if they would allow the statue to be moved and under what conditions would they allow the statue to be moved.
We contacted DDC and were able to set up a meeting with Mr Roger Walton who would be our Dover District Council liaise officer for this Campaign.
We attended this meeting on 30/11/06 he informed us that Dover Museum were the curators of the statue and that they were willing to allow the Statue to be moved as long as it stayed within the boundaries of the Dover District and that we achieved all provisos put to us by DDC. The provisos given to us by Mr Walton were as follows, (1) The cost of moving the Statue would be met entirely by the committee through grants and fundraising, (2) That any new site put forward would have to receive planning permission and be safe and secure (3) That we must consult all Mining Communities and that all mining communities must agree to the new site. He voiced concerns that if areas of the communities began to disagree with the moving of the statue then the statue would stay at Dover.
To this end it was agreed, that all committee members would go back to their communities and arrange open meetings, that would be well advertised, with posters, leaflets and in local press and give everyone involved in the mining industry a chance to voice their opinions as to whether or not they wanted the statue moved and if they did, then, where they would like to move it to.
The fact that this statue is so important to the Mining Communities in Kent, the committee were well aware of the problems that lie ahead. Every community, quite rightly in the committees view, originally wanted the statue at their chosen place and still would want it at their Pit or Village or Town now.
The most common remark that was made by many Miners, was that, the statue at its present site, on Dover Seafront, was not achieving any benefits to the Mining areas of Kent, for which it was intended. So we had the basis of thought, that it was the right time to move the statue, with nearly everyone agreeing it should go somewhere on the Miners Way Trail. All we needed to do then was find a suitable site, where the Statue would be of the greatest value, to all Kent Mining communities. Two sites were considered by the committee. Aylesham Village Square was one and A258 at the entrance to Fowlmead Park was the other.
It was clear to the committee that the A258 site, on the Miners Way Trail, was the best new site for the statue.
The statue would be on the Miners Way Trail, it would be seen by thousands of people that will be encouraged, by placing information stones around the statue, to visit all the Communities, Village, Towns and Parks and Projects that are here in our corner of Kent.
We worked closely with, Mr G. Ford, Architect, Mr D Wadhams, Kent Highways, Mr R Pollard, DDC, Mr J Iverson, Dover Museum, Mr Des Connolly, Crime Prevention Design Adviser, Mr J Cook, EDF and Oatmor & Harris, the constructors for the project. We held site meetings and the committee took onboard all the advice being given to them. The next stage was to obtain planning permission.
2009 was the 20th Anniversary of the closing of the Kent Coalfield and the Committee felt that this would be an important event to organize a Gala to unveil the Statue and commemorate this Anniversary at the same time. We found out that we were not alone in wanting to organise such an event. Mr J Davis, Ex –Miner and member of Chik, was organizing a Miners Reunion and Mr M Killmurry, Fowlmead Park was organizing a Kent Miners Heritage Exhibition.
On the 13/11/08 Mr Jim Davis and Mr Mark Killmurry were voted onto our Committee and it was decided to work together to organize a Kent Area Miners Festival to be held on 31st of August 2009.
The Gala was a great success but true to form planning was not granted in time.
The Miners of Kent, past and present, deserve to be remembered and it is important to show this country we are still here and still together as one Community.
Mr Gary Cox