Mum's bid to trace living relatives from Pretoria Pit disaster

Alison Woodbridge with dad Alan Roberts and her children Alfie and Connie. Below, a newspaper tribute to pit heroes including Alan’s grandfather Robert Roberts

Alison Woodbridge with dad Alan Roberts and her children Alfie and Connie. Below, a newspaper tribute to pit heroes including Alan’s grandfather Robert Roberts

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , entertainment reporter

A MOTHER-of-two is hoping to trace living relatives of her family who were involved in the Pretoria Pit disaster.

Alison Woodbridge, aged 43, who lives in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, was stunned to discover she has relatives in Bolton and Westhoughton after researching her family tree.

Her great-grandfather was Robert William Roberts, a colliery fireman who attended the Pretoria Pit disaster in 1910, and was awarded the Edward Medal for bravery in rescue work at the tragedy.

A total of 344 workers lost their lives, including Mr Roberts’ teenage son Albert, when there was an underground explosion at the Hulton Bank Colliery No. 3 Pit, Over Hulton, on December 21, 1910.

Mr Roberts was married to Harriet Beaumont and later Rachel Hatton.

Mr Roberts and Harriet’s son Norman — Mrs Woodbridge’s grandfather — was born in 1909. He married Eileen Izzard and moved to Hertfordshire where they welcomed a son, Alan.

Mrs Woodbridge, an event manager, said: “I know that the family lived in the Bolton and Westhoughton area, where they were all born and they all died, except Norman.

“Years ago, they lived in Bolton Street and later in Albion Street. I would especially love to find out if there are any living relatives.”

Robert and Harriet’s other children were daughter Ethel, who lived from 1897 to 1987, and was married to George Willis Armitage; Harry, 1902 to 1965, who married Minnie Jolley; Joseph, 1899 to 1975, and Hilda, 1904 to 1973.

Mrs Woodbridge and her family recently made the journey to Bolton to visit their relatives’ graves and the pit memorials.

She added: “It would mean so much to me to find my family and especially to my dad, who has grown up as an only child.

“To find out very recently that he had aunts, uncles and cousins has been amazing but also very sad as he never got to know them.

“If anyone has any information, past or present, I would be really grateful to hear from you.”

She can be contacted on 07786 445884.

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