The fish that helped tragedy pit grieve

Pretoria Pit, where 344 were killed
Pretoria Pit, where 344 were killed
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A century-old fish, used to help raise money for victims of a Lancashire mining disaster, is once again causing a stink.

The 2lb stuffed roach mysteriously turned up, carefully wrapped, in a Preston house after the occupant died.

But nobody can explain how it arrived there.

Now the scaly specimen is languishing in an antique shop in Cheshire, where the owner is appealing for somebody to return it to its rightful place in the Red Rose county.

Jan Gnatiuk, who runs Lostock Antiques near Northwich, said the modest-sized fish was brought in to him by a local woman, but how it ended up in Preston, and then found its way to Cheshire, is a mystery.

Details of the fish’s colourful history are included in news cuttings in the frame. Originally caught by miner Jack Jarvis, the fish was stuffed and then taken around the local pubs to raise money for the families of victims of the Pretoria Pit disaster of 1910.

The incident at the Westhoughton pit, at 7.50am on December 21, was the third worst mining disaster in Britain, killing 344 men and boys.

The fish is now mounted and displayed in a glass frame, but Mr Gnatiuk feels that it belongs in Lancashire, and would like to hear from anyone who could return it to its original home.

He can be contacted on 01606 350636