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Bo'ness Memorial to Mining is unveiled
Mining Memorial Winding Wheel

The Memorial to Mining and the long history of minings and the miners of Bo'ness, past and present, was unveiled at a ceremony today Saturday 26 May 2007 at 11.15am.

First proposed in 1992 by provost and long-serving politician, Charlie Sneddon, the long awaited day finally arrived.

The event was heralded by a procession headed by Bo'ness Pipe Band and the Kinneil and Unisor Brass Band to the site on Union Street, just north-east of the Seafield Place car park.

Kinneil and Unison Band
Kinneil and Unison Band

The project was orginally undertaken by Bo'ness Community Council with the current chairman, Bill Bruce, being a long term supporter.

Joint Community Council & Bonnie Bo'ness Project

With the addition of representatives from Bonnie Bo'ness on the Community Council it became a joint project and the search for funding was started.

The design is representative of a mine winding wheel and although in an upright position as part of the memorial it would have been used in a horizontal position in operation.

Some of the waiting crowd
Some of the waiting crowd

Encouraged by the weather being kind in only threatening to dampen the proceedings with only a hint of a shower, a good crowd was in attendance to hear Guy Goodwin, Bonnie Bo'ness representative, open the proceedings with a history of the project leading up to today's ceremony.

Long history of coal mining in Bo'ness

Guy Goodwin, Bonnie Bo'ness gives outline of history of the project Guy Goodwin, Bonnie Bo'ness gives outline of history of the project

He described the long association with coal in Bo'ness dating back 900 years to the monks at Carriden collecting it from exposed outcrops and the industry and mines that developed and in operation until very recently.

He acknowledged the support of the funders including BP and Falkirk Environment Trust.

He also thanked Falkirk Council for both their support and the help received both in financial terms and advice from various departments without which the project could not have been realised and Fiona Fisher the project designer.

Plaque design produced by local childrenPlaque design produced by local childrenPlaque design produced by local childrenPlaque design produced by local childrenPlaque design produced by local children

Art contribution from local schools

He thanked Yvonne McBlain, Falkirk Council Education Art Support, for the contribution she made in organising the art works the local children from Bo'ness schools had done which were now on display as part of the memorial in the form of plaques representing the long history of coal mining in Bo'ness.

The five plaques were chosen from a range designed by children from the Bo'ness primary schools as scraperboard artworks and etched into polished granite blocks.

They are embedded into the low wall surrounding the memorial wheel.

Local Historian Ian Scott

He then invited local historian and Bo'nessophile, Ian Scott, to say a few words about the importance of coal in the Bo'ness area.

Ian Scott confirmed the historical importance of coal and said that the 900 years mentioned was only the earliest recorded reference and that it had probably been used by earlier settled people going back much further in time.

As an indication of the importance of coal in the develpment of Bo'ness he showed a map with over 200 mines of various types spread throughout what is now the town of Bo'ness.

Its historical contribution was emphasised by the history of Bo'ness harbour which at one time was the most important port on the Forth both for the export of coal and the import of pit props to 'support' the growing mining industry.

The unveiling of the Mining Memorial

Bill Bruce, chairman of Bo'ness Community Council then invited the oldest able resident miner of Bo'ness together with the Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival Queen to perform the unveiling by removing the Saltire flag from the commemorative display board.

The Fair Queen then proceeded to lay a floral tribute in front of the memorial wheel.

Commemoration

The Rev. Albert Bogle of St Andrews Church, gave a commemoration speech, followed by a short prayer and led the singing of a hymn by the assembled crowd to complete the ceremony.

It was left to Bill Kelly, chairman of the Mining Memorial sub-group of the Community Council to thank all those who had participated, helped and contributed to the success of the project both in the past leading up to the commemoration and on the day itself.

He thanked the children for their valuable input and hoped that the Memorial to Mining in Bo'ness would stand as a monument to the past history of the contribution of coal in the development of Bo'ness and as a reminder for the community both now and for future generations.

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