Memorial Garden Set for Unveiling

More than 50 Kent coalminers who died during the course of half a century are to be remembered when a new memorial garden is unveiled in Aylesham in just over a week’s time.

There’s an open invitation to residents to attend the ceremony at 11am on Saturday 6 May at the Aylesham Heritage Centre in Dorman Avenue South.

A number of local groups, businesses and individuals have raised the £9,000 for the garden which features a large stone at one end bearing the names of all 57 men lost in accidents at Snowdown colliery over the years. The Co-op generously paid for the stone to be imported and for the miners’ names to be engraved into it.

Keith Owen, Chairman of the Heritage Centre, who has led the project to create the garden, said: “We’re delighted with the way so many local people and businesses have come together to support us with funding and make it all possible.

“Once the Heritage Centre established itself, we started researching the miners who died in accidents and soon realised they were not remembered in their own community – the village had not been very good at keeping records – so we decided a memorial garden would be a fitting tribute to them in Aylesham’s 90th anniversary year.

“Until now, there has been no permanent reminder of the men who made the ultimate sacrifice while working in the local mines and, over time, they could have been all too easily forgotten.”

The first man lost was E Knight, a sinker, in 1907 and the most recent was F Harris, in 1965. Coincidentally, both men were aged in their mid fifties.

Local schoolchildren will begin a project later in the year to learn how the stone itself made its journey from China to Aylesham. Their findings will be recorded as part of the celebrations marking Aylesham’s 90th year. The youngsters will also be involved in planting seasonal flowers around the garden.