CROWDS lined the street on Saturday for the official launch of a long-awaited memorial to Prestonpans’ miners.

The large stone memorial, created by Cockenzie-based sculptor Gardner Molloy, was commissioned to recognise the 200 workers from the town who died in the mines, as well as those who worked in them.

Made up of two 12-ton sandstone blocks which represent the mines themselves, with two mineworkers depicted working within them, the memorial was created by Mr Molloy over three years.

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Prestonpans Miners Memorial Statue Group, which was supported by Prestonpans Community Council, raised more than £30,000 to bring the statue project to reality.

And it was officially unveiled at its new home at The Shrine, at the junction of Bankton Terrace and Schaw Road, on Saturday in front of crowds.

Former miner Benji McLeod, from Prestonpans, was invited to cut the ribbon at the ceremony.

Martin Whitfield, newly-elected MP for East Lothian, was invited to speak at the launch. He said: “It is an absolute honour that my first official task as MP for East Lothian is to be involved in the unveiling of this memorial to the mining industry.

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“Coal company owners came and went but the mining communities always stay to look after each other and care about each other.”

Mr Whitfield said the memorial was fitting and right for the people of Prestonpans to remember those miners who sacrificed their lives in the industry and those who worked in it.

He was joined at the ceremony by council leader Willie Innes, who welcomed the memorial and congratulated those involved in raising the funds to have it put in place.

Artist Mr Molloy paid his own personal tribute to a former miner who had a lasting effect on his family.

Mr Molloy said he had been inspired by Jimmy Bannerman, who he said worked in the mines before becoming a taxi driver and who regularly transported Mr Molloy’s daughter Willow. He said: “My personal favourite miner was Jimmy Bannerman, who drove my daughter Willow in a taxi daily and became her honorary granddad.”

Mining of coal in Prestonpans began in 1210, and continued for centuries.