IT was the worst mining disaster in Kearsley’s history, in which 43 men and boys died in a explosion.

And in March those who lost their lives in the Unity Brook Colliery disaster on March 12 in 1878 will be remembered by the people of Kearsley in a commemoration service 140 years after tragedy.

A permanent memorial to those men and boys will be placed in the community as part of the act of remembrance in early summer after funds were secured through the area forum. The commemoration event is being organised by The Kearsley Festival Group which has formed a working group consisting of members of the Churches on the Mount, councillors, local historians and schools are also being urged to get involved with the poignant chapter of the town’s history.

Records show that out of the 43 who died, 21 of the victims were buried in St Stephen’s graveyard.

Others were buried at St Saviour’s, Ringley, St John’s Farnworth with Kearsley and Swinton.

The idea for a service came from Billy Kelly, secretary of the National Union of Miners, from Farnworth ,who approached Stephen Tonge, community officer for Churches on the Mount. Now there are plans for a permanent memorial to those who died.

And schools and local organisations are becoming involved in the 140th Anniversary Commemoration Service. Mr Tonge, community officer for Churches on the Mount, said: “We are notifying all the schools in Kearsley about this project and inviting them to be involved in many ways.

“Some of these are by using the history as a study project, getting involved in the commemoration service, producing designs for a memorial banner.

“We have a number on board and are hoping to get more involved too.

“There are dozens of old coal mineshafts in Kearsley and many are very near to all the schools.”

He added: “The church service will take place at St Stephen’s Church and Kearsley Youth Brass Band will play at the service and provide the music for the hymns.”

Those involved will meet this weekend to develop the plans further.