Council commissions sculpture to celebrate Normanton’s mining heritage

A new artwork has been commissioned by Wakefield Council to celebrate Normanton’s proud mining history.
Artist Michael Disley is creating a striking granite piece called ‘Snap Time’ which is due to be unveiled in March next year.

It will be a seating structure located on High Street near Greggs and will feature depictions of miners.

The artist has taken inspiration from the strong camaraderie in Normanton’s mining community and hopes that people will be able to use the installation to sit and enjoy their ‘snap’ together.

‘Snap’ is thought to have become local slang for lunch because of the waterproof tins miners used to take their food underground.

Darren Byford smiling
Cllr Darren Byford

These featured a metal handle that opened the tin with a characteristic ‘snapping’ sound, giving rise to the term.

Cllr Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Growth and Property, said: “Normanton is a very different place to what it was at the turn of the last century.

“And we’re keen to foster a shared sense of community that can come from knowledge of the town’s history.

“I’m sure many people today have grandparents and other descendants who worked in the coal industry, and so I welcome this project as one that can bring people together.”

Further benefits of the project include improving a key pedestrian gateway into Normanton and promoting positive wellbeing.

Beam, an art consultancy firm based at the Art House in Wakefield, helped the selection and appointment of the artist.

Mr Disley has gained public art commissions from across the world over a career spanning more than 35 years.

He said: “Carving in beautiful granite has been a real joy throughout my career and I’m hoping to create something really special for Normanton.

“A memorial sculpture will highlight the bonds of friendship and sense of community that the mining industry brought to Normanton.”

Normanton has links to the mining industry dating back to the early 19th century and once boasted the largest coalfield in the UK.

The collieries employed more than 10,000 men at their peak, with the town enjoying a long boom period.

Little remains of Normanton’s mining history, but it is hoped the sculpture will celebrate and raise awareness of the past with both residents and visitors.

Meanwhile, Mr Disley will be one of the participants in this year’s Normanton Flower Show.

He will be hosting a ‘School of Rock’ drop-in workshop where visitors can try their hand at carving rock, limestone and sandstone.

As well as tutoring, Mr Disley will be happy to discuss the mining artwork and the history of the coal industry.

The ‘School of Rock’ will be at the Normanton Flower Show in the Normanton Juniors Car Park from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 18 September.