Bolton Council has agreed to donate £1000 towards the development of a permanent national memorial in honour of the ‘Bevin Boys’ miners.
The ‘Bevin Boys’ consisted of 48,000 men, who were conscripted to work in the mines to support the war effort during World War II. The Bevin Boys scheme was introduced in 1943 by Minister for Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin and involved recruiting men aged between 18 and 25 to work in the coal mines, in response to an increasing shortage of labour in the mining industry. In fact, one in ten of 18-25 year olds called up for national service ended up working in the pits rather than the armed forces.
The hard work of the Bevin Boys as part of the war effort went largely unrecognized over the years, and to the formation of the Bevin Boys Association in 1989, which has campaigned to have their efforts recognized.
A number of the Bevin Boys are from the Bolton area, the most famous of whom is Nat Lofthouse, the ‘Lion of Vienna’ who captained Bolton to winning the 1958 FA Cup and scored 30 goals for England. Nat was conscripted in 1943 at the age of 18 and worked in Mossley Colliery for the rest of the war. He credits the hard, physical labour of working down the mine with helping him develop the fitness needed to play professional football later in his career. In his autobiography, Goals Galore he says: “The job proved to be the best I could possibly have had. It made me fitter than ever I had been before. My body became firmer and harder. I learnt to take hard knocks without feeling them. My legs became stronger and when I played football I felt I was shooting with greater power.”
Councillor Nick Peel, Executive Member for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Regulation commented:
“The Bevin Boys are the forgotten heroes of World War II and their work as part of the war effort has been unsung and unrecognized over the last 70 years. We hope that this donation will help provide a national memorial for these men and celebrate their contribution alongside the contributions of the Armed Forces.”