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Digging into rich vein of mining history with first peek at £100k Cannock Chase museum plan

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Drilling into history, a new £100,000 interactive mining exhibition will give visitors the chance to experience a day in the life of a coal miner.

And this image reveals how the Mining Memories gallery at Cannock Chase Museum will look. The community's coal mining experience will come to life in the gallery, which is due to open to the public in early April.

Museum visitors will have the opportunity to try out interactive displays, including a crawl-through tunnel.

Project manager Stuart Holden described the gallery as 'an exciting, innovative exhibition that not only gives the facts, but brings the history to life'.

Mr Holden also said: "We are trying to create an exhibition which, as well as providing all the facts and figures about coal and mining, will tell the stories of coalminers and bring their experiences to life. "We will also be using community stories in the exhibition, to show the district's history and make the exhibition location specific.

"We will not only be telling people about the role and experiences of the coal miner, but also the rescues and training they had to undergo.

"We will also be looking at coal mining through three different eras, 1927, 1950 and 1971, as well as telling visitors about what clothes they would wear and life after the mines.

"This will be an exciting and innovative exhibition that not only gives the facts, but brings the history to life," he added. The site of the museum was once home to the Valley Colliery, the training pit for thousands of young men beginning their working lives in the local coal industry.

The experience is being funded by a £97,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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As part of the new exhibition, the museum is appealing for anyone wiling to donate items from the Cannock Chase coalfields. Those happy to loan items should email s.reavey@wlct.org

Work on the exhibition began in December, with a finishing date set for the third week in March. It is hoped the gallery will open in early April. The Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, which runs the museum, is now finalising the construction drawings.

Firm Richard Fowler Associates is leading the design for the project, while construction firm Workhaus will be carrying out the work.

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