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Heritage Poetry

As part of ‘Our Past – Our Future’ children in Excellence Cluster Schools have been writing poems about our heritage. They have worked with local poets to produce them. We owe a great debt to Joyce Holden from Wigan Children and Young People’s Service who is editing a book of poetry called ‘Leigh People and Places Memories’ for the project. The book will be on sale later this year.

Bedford Hall Methodists Bickershaw CE Primary Higher Folds CP Hindley Green CP
St. Gabriel's RC Primary St. Thomas CE Primary St. Georges CE Primary Sacred Heart

The Pretoria Pit Disaster took place on the 21st December 1910 in the Yard seam. A build up of gas caused by a roof collapse led to a huge explosion. 344 men lost their lives. One family lost their father and four sons.
This poem, about the disaster, is written by Julia McCrory, a teacher at Sacred Heart RC Primary School, who has worked with her class on the story for our Heritage Project.

Black Christmas by Julia McCrory

Christmas morning 1910
We are gathered together
Not to share a festive feast
Before a roaring fire.
We are gathered together
To pay the price of coal.
In search
Of the Pretoria’s black jewels...
The cost too dear to bear.
As the band plays 
“Lead Kindly Light”
We tremble
“Amid the encircling gloom.”
Wrapped only
In thoughts
Of our bonny lads.
No warm kisses planted 
Beneath sprigs of mistletoe.
The earth is hollowed out 
As, once again
Those we love,
Are lowered into the blackness.
This time
For the everlasting shift.
Christmas boxes 
Sorrowfully laid to rest.
I pray
That on that fateful day,
As our silhouettes grew haggard
On the colliery banks
You had already crossed the unknown river
And found eternal rest
In the arms of Jesus
And you Fountain,
I pray that your lads 
Were there to greet you
As you made your final journey.
You the generous man.
“The tonic.”
Who treated his workforce like sons.
Did your heart soar
To see those boys free from pain?
Did your rich voice
Fill the rooms of heaven
In joyful Christmas song?
Can I hear it faintly now,
Amid the encircling gloom?


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