My mother often spoke fondly of living in Bearpark from 1920 -1926 when the family came down to London. My grandfather, Edward Leadbitter, was a miner at Bearpark pit. He worked on an 18 inch seam, lying in water in the semi darkness as he hewed the coal. They lived at Aldin Grange Hall and called it 'The Hall'. Apparently the streets were built on the site of a large house. There was also a street called Ballroom Street. She told me of the little bridge where she used to play near The Hall where a man hid who was being chased by soldiers but was spotted by his reflection in the water and was captured. It is still there and sits alongside the road bridge coming into Bearpark. She went to Bearpark Primary School and also told me of the hardship they all endured when there was a scarcity of work. Many people were starving and she was sent as a tiny child to the soup kitchen set up by the miners to help feed the children in the village.
My grandmother's brother-in-law, Michael Flatley, 'Uncle Mick' also worked in the pit and was killed by a wagon that became out of control. He was crushed against the side of the seam as it carreered down the lines. I have just located his name in the list of those killed in pit disasters.
Theresa Flatley, Uncle Mick's daughter, my mother's cousin, married another Michael who also worked at the pithead as a brickmaker. He was there in 1965 when we visited mum's family.
I came up to Bearpark in 1965 after Grandad's death and was privileged to see the places mum had told me about. I visited again this summer and saw where the pit used to be, now covered in trees and very peaceful.
A memory shared byon Aug 24th, 2013.
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