A SERVICE will be held on Friday afternoon to dedicate memorial stones which pay tribute to every miner who lost his life 102 years ago in the Pretoria Pit disaster.

The ceremony, which will be led by Atherton woman and Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, will be a dedication of the two giant memorials bearing the names and ages of the 344 victims of the explosion which happened on the morning of December 21, 1910.

The Mayors of Wigan, Westhoughton and Bolton have been invited to the ceremony which takes place at 2pm at the mine site on the edge of the Hulton Estate, off Newbrook Road, Atherton.

Ex-miner Tony Hogan, from Atherton, whose great-grandfather was one of the victims, has spent the last two years campaigning and gathering funding for the memorial stones.

Ms Hilling said: “I am delighted to host this dedication at the site on the commemoration of the Pretoria Pit disaster. I have nothing but admiration for Tony and all that he has achieved at the Pretoria Memorial Wood.

“It is a tribute to his tenacity, and the community spirit of all who have helped him, that the stones have been erected and the site is in such good condition to host this special event."

Rev Gary Lawson and Rev John Howard Norman will dedicate the stones.

At the dedication there will be songs from Parkside Colliery Male Voice Choir, prayers and Andrea Finney will read a poem.

Mr Hogan advised: "Anyone who wishes to attend the service should be warned parking will be difficult at the site at the top of Broadway. It might be best to park at Atherton Central station and walk the 200 yards up Upton Road."