GRIMETHORPE residents were left outraged this week after finding one of the village’s mining memorials - which was supposed to be kept in safe storage - left in shrubbery behind a housing development site.

The pit wheel, which was situated on the former Willowgarth High School site on Brierley Road, was removed by housing developer Saul Homes three years ago to make way for a 97-home estate.

However last weekend, the pit wheel was found by residents behind the barriers of the site, covered in grass and overgrown plants.

Arthur Whittaker, 82, is an ex-miner and one of the residents who helped initially place the pit wheel on its plinth.

He said: “It is totally disrespectful to the people of Grimethorpe and the miners who worked there.

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“They will be turning up their graves at what has happened.

“We were led to believe the wheel was in safe storage but it was found not to be it must have been there a while.”

Dave North, chairman of Shafton Parish Council, labelled the pit wheel’s storage as an ‘absolute disgrace’.

He told the Chronicle: “The pit wheel symbolised all the mining villages and for it to be taken down and thrown in a ditch is unacceptable and unbelievable.

“The fact they’ve just dumped it in a hedge is an absolute disgrace.

“We were told that it was placed in a ‘safe place’ but we didn’t know what they had done with it - we do now.”

Brian Smith, 65, who lives on Cemetery Road, originally took the picture of the wheel and posted it to the ‘Grimethorpe Community’ page on Facebook after he was tipped off by a friend about the monument’s location.

“It’s obvious that the wheel has been there for quite some time,” he added.

“It’s downright disrespectful and a slur on the people of Grimethorpe we always seem to be ignored.”

The wheel was originally in a prominent position at the entrance to Grimethorpe, but residents are now worried that once it is re-sited it will no longer be on show to those who pass it.

“Where they’re going to re-site it is ten to 15 metres inside the estate it’s not acceptable,” Brian added.

Coun Jeff Ennis, who represents the North East ward, said an online survey will be held to ensure that a solution can be found for all residents in the area.

“We’re looking at running the survey before the end of the week to ask which location they would prefer the wheel to be out of three sites,” Coun Ennis said.

“Only people that live in Grimethorpe can vote on the issue so I won’t be able to do so they decide, not us.

“I’ve been involved with the wheel, both my dad and my wife’s dad worked in the pit and I’m proud of my mining connections.”

Saul Homes denied claims the pit wheel had been out of storage for a considerable amount of time, but admitted they are disappointed by some of the comments made online.

“We are local to Grimethorpe and Brierley and we fully appreciate how important the mining heritage is to the community and consequently we have always handled the wheel with respect,” a spokesperson told the Chronicle.

“Last week the wheel was brought from storage and placed on the banking close to the new location, so we were able to accurately set out the bolt fixing points, trial erect and prepare the base for the imminent installation of the wheel.

“The details of the mining wheel, including its location, were agreed with Barnsley Council some time ago and local councillors were aware of this.

“The wheel is programmed to be placed in its agreed position in the next few days and we intend to proceed with this.

“As local residents we understand how important the mining wheel is to the community and we are looking forward to it being in its new permanent position.”