Remembering victims of industrial accidents

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There have been a number of disasters in the Spen Valley over the years.

In 1892 one of the greatest tragedies took place at the premises of Wesley Barraclough, flannel manufacturers, when the 150ft chimney at Marsh Mills, Cleckheaton, collapsed killing 15 people.

In 1983 three women rag sorters died in a mill blaze at Liversedge; the fire gutted the premises of James Brown at Littletown and five other women workers avoided death by seconds, one jumping from a first floor window.

A hundred years ago, in April 1913, Thomas Burnley Mills at Gomersal went up in flames. Three hundred employees were thrown out of work. Burnleys was one of the main employers in the Spen Valley. Founded in 1753 it closed in 1996 and production was transferred to Ireland.

More and more towns and cities such as Bradford and Leeds now organise an annual memorial day in remembrance of workers who have died in accidents at word. Maybe we should organise one in the Spen Valley.
I finish with a lovely poem written by a family whose daughter died alongside 34 other women in an explosion in 1916 at the Barnbow Munition Factory in Leeds.

Death often comes to show

We love far better than we know

But love in death should make us see

What love in life should always be

JOHN APPLEYARD

Firthcliffe Parade

Liversedge