Almost 900 men and boys went to work at the Pretoria Pit on December 21,1910 - 344 never returned home.

In an instant, 344 men and boys (the youngest just 13) lost their lives as a result of an underground explosion at Hulton Colliery on the Atherton/Bolton boundary making it the third worst disaster in British coal-mining history.

The magnitude of the Pretoria disaster was such that its impact and aftermath will never be forgotten.

The Bolton News: The Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Diane Hawkins,  with Town Mayor Deidre McGeown

And yesterday, on the anniversary of the disaster, those who were killed were remembered in what has become an annual service.

Westhoughton Town Mayor Deirdre McGeown has led commemorations

A short service was held at Ditchfield Gardens, which was attended by around 35 people, before a maroon was fired at 7.50am to mark the time that the mine exploded.

At 10am a church service was held at St Bartholomew’s Church before wreaths were laid at the memorial in the churchyard.

The Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Diane Hawkins, was in attendance.

Cllr McGeown said: “The Pretoria Pit memorial day is an important day in the Westhoughton calendar because so many local families were tragically affected by this disaster.

“Thank you to everyone who attended and took part in the service of remembrance. It was lovely to have the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester laying a wreath. Thank you to Westhoughton High School for their contribution in the service. The pupils read beautifully and Jane Torrence sang a beautiful song called 'The Pretoria Pit '.”