My father caught Hapton Valley disaster on film

Hapton Valley Pit Disaster Memorial. (s)
Hapton Valley Pit Disaster Memorial. (s)
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In 1962, my father, Gerry Bradley, was chief photographer at the Burnley Express and had worked for them for at least 20 years in that role.

He covered the pit disaster for the Express. It was a time he never forgot. There was national coverage by the press and some of the miners were very upset by what they saw as press intrusion on their work and their grief.

The chief constable at the time saw my Dad and asked him to represent the press corps to lessen the confrontation. As a respected local journalist Dad was allowed to take a few respectful photos which were then syndicated to the national press. He won an award for one of these.

When the glass plates on the upper floor of the Express building had to be got rid of because their accumulated weight was causing concern and anyway they had changed to film, he rescued just two for posterity.

One was the Tommy Cummings’ special goal against Newcastle in 1952 and the other was the photo of the disaster, where a police officer is looking down with concern and sorrow at one of the victims on a stretcher. I still possess the two half plates and prints of the photographs.

Gerry Bradley retired from the Express in 1973, after over 40 years as chief photographer and died in 2005, aged 96. He would have been amazed at the digital photography of today.

I hope this helps to tell a little of the story of that sad time.

Gerard Bradley

1, Church End

Leverington, Wisbech,