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Name rooted in pit tragedy; FAMILY: Great-grandson in statue tribute to mining accident victim.

Byline: By Tony Deeley

A POPULAR pounds 70,000 landmark statue commissioned by Walsall Council has been named in memory of a tragic miner who was killed in a colliery accident.

Father-of-three Jack Jigger Taylor died when the roof collapsed at Walsall Wood pit in 1951.

His memory will live on after his 13-year-old great-grandson, Jak Groves, of High Street, Clayhanger, won a competition to find a nickname for the 30ft high Brownhills Miner statue and collected a pounds 30 WH Smith token.

The five tonne steel statue, at the junction of High Street and Chester Road North, by artist John McKenna, is to be known informally as Jigger in tribute to the dead miner and to all those who lost their lives in the coal industry.

Nicola Adams, Jak's mum, said: "We're all really pleased Jak has won. He's dead chuffed. He was actually named after his greatgrandad and has heard all the stories about him from his nan, Valerie Plant, who was Jigger's daughter.

"Valerie died late last year and she would have been so proud to have known. We can actually trace six generations of miners in our family and it's something we are proud of."

Jack started work underground aged 14 in 1929 and was known as Jigger from an early job operating the machinery that drilled into the coalface.

A happy go lucky man, according to his family, Jigger was known throughout Brownhills for his love of whistling or singing a tune.

His great grandson, who attends Shire Oak School, said: "I'm pleased the statue is going to be called Jigger. I think it's a fitting tribute to all the miners of Brownhills and not just my greatgrandad.

"I think Brownhills people should be proud of our mining heritage and we should never forget the sacrifices made by miners like Jigger Taylor who worked in cramped, damp and dangerous conditions, sometimes paying the ultimate sacrifice."

Jack Jigger Taylor lived in Bridge Street, Clayhanger, and is buried at St James Church in Brownhills. He died after an emergency operation failed to save him, leaving his wife, Ivy, and children John, Jill and Valerie.

Coun Alan Paul, who arranged the statue-naming competition, said: "The people of Brownhills have really warmed to the statue.

Gateshead may have the Angel of the North but we've got Jigger.

"It's entirely appropriate that the statue is named Jigger to Jack Taylor's memory as well as to the miners of the town. As a council we want to celebrate pride for our borough wherever we can and the statue and this competition does just that."

Gift tokens also went to Drew Adams of Watling Street Primary School, who finished runner-up in the competition with the name Morris along with Carys Evans, of Aldridge, who put forward the name Shiny Miner.

CAPTION(S):

YOUNG JACK... tragic miner aged 12.; NAME'S MINE...happy Jak Groves by the statue and (right) great-grandad Jack, wife Ivy and daughter Valerie in 1939. Main picture: Iain Findlay IF021207Jigger-01; HAUNTING MEMORY... Jack Jigger Taylor's death certificate.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 3, 2008
Words:507
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