The grave of nine miners who died in September 1864, whilst ascending the Madeley Wood Company’s Brick Kiln Leasow Pit (known locally as the Lane Pit) is situated in St. Michael’s Churchyard, Madeley. The disaster was particularly poignant as only three of the nine ‘men’ were over the age of 18 and one was only 12. The story of the Nine Men has great significance for many local people. This tragic tale is an engaging piece of social history, which has captured the imagination of many local historians and school groups. The distinctive tomb exists as physical evidence of a once thriving local industry and of the dangers associated with this precarious occupation.
The need to restore the monument had been championed by the Madeley Local Studies Group and other local groups and organisations for several years. By 2001, the condition of the tomb has deteriorated to such an extent that the inscription was almost illegible and vegetation had covered the graves and undermined the brickwork. It was clear that action had to be taken.
In January 2002, a conservators report was commissioned by Madeley Parish Council that estimated the restoration costs at approximately £10,000. Discussions then took place with the Diocese of Hereford over the extent of the works.
Once a scheme was agreed, funding was sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the monument, improve access to the grave via a pathway, provide an interpretation panel next to the grave and to produce a free schools booklet and information leaflet.
The bid was successful and Eura Conservation of Halesfield was employed to restore the grave to its original condition. The brick and stonework were made good and repointed, the cast iron covers of the graves were treated and returned to their original white colour and the railings surrounding the grave were repainted green. The work was monitored by Pat Frost of Castlering Archaeology in Pontesbury.
As much of the original lettering on the tombstone had been eroded an interpretative plaque commissioned from Photocast of Liverpool, was erected next to the grave and last, but by no means least, a new path provided better access to this important monument.
On Wednesday, 1st October 2003, the 139th anniversary of the funeral of the nine miners, a short service of rededication was held at the graveside. The service was led by the Reverend Henry Morris and was attended by about fifty people including several ex-miners and descendants of the victims’ families.
Download a copy of the article from the Shropshire Mining and Caving club magazine about the rededication service here