Hundreds of miners past and present marched through Maltby on Saturday to mark the closure of the town’s coal mine.
The decision to close Maltby Colliery was taken after owners Hargreaves Services said it was no longer viable on health and safety, geological and financial grounds.
The parade, led by the Maltby Miners Welfare Band, made its way from the colliery to the town’s cemetery.
Inside the graveyard, there was a service of thanksgiving, during which a piece of recently dug coal was buried next to the memorial to the 27 men who died in an underground explosion at Maltby in 1923.
The National Union of Mineworkers said about 250 people were now out of work, while 150 had been redeployed to jobs at Hargreaves’ other mines - Kellingley and Hatfield in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Notts.
Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron, who worked at Maltby Colliery for 18 years, said the closure was the ‘end of an era’.
“It was a sad day, especially as we remembered all those who had worked at the pit over the last century,” he said.
“Maltby is the last colliery to close in the Rother Valley so it is undoubtedly the end of an era.”
Maltby Coliery was sunk in 1910 and started producing coal four years later. Hargreaves Services took over the running of the pit in 2007.
Keith Stringer was a coal miner for over 30 years. He spent 25 of those years at Maltby, until he left in 1988.
“For thirty years my job was secure, which allowed me to bring up my family knowing that there would always be a regular wage coming in,” he said.
“The work was hard and dangerous but at least every one who worked down there worked in the knowledge that every one of us were watching each others’ backs and everyone worked as a team.”
“Saturday was a sad day and I know that there were a number of men who would have loved to have walked back from the pit, but because of their ages and physical fitness, had to miss out on it.”
But despite the sadness, Keith believes it is now time for the town to look to its future and find a new way forward.
“As a community, we the people of Maltby cannot live in the past,” he said.
“We have to look at the future and look for different ways of creating or developing jobs for our own young people.”