The family of a mines rescuer are petitioning to save a miners’ memorial statue from being moved and possibly damaged at Whitehaven's harbourside.

Matthew Toole, 29, from Cleator Moor, is the grandson of Gerald McGlennon whose idea it was to erect the End of an Era statue paying homage to the mining industry and including an acknowledgement of the contribution of screen lasses, coal face workers, miners rescue bridgadesmen and management chargehands.

The statue, which was set in place in 2005, is set to be moved to make way for a new coastal development project.

Matthew and his girlfriend Holly Berwick, 28, also from Cleator Moor, set up a petition on a week ago and have already collected more than 1,000 signatures from people who are against moving the statue in case it gets damaged.

But Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners said the work would be carried out by professional contractors.

The plan is for the memorial to be moved closer to The Beacon, around 200 metres from its current location. The plinth would also be rebuilt.

Matthew, who is an engineer, is concerned that moving the memorial might cause irreparable damage to the 15-year-old structure.

He said: “We are not opposed to the coastal development project in any way. We would like to make that clear. We are worried that moving the statue will weaken it and it could cause irreparable damage. We can’t see how the statue infringes the development plans, but if the Harbour Commissioners must move it we want written assurances that if the statue is moved and damaged they will be liable for full repairs.”

Mr Toole said they wanted to work with the project to ensure the safety of the statue and will be meeting with a harbour commissioner representative at a meeting today.

He added: “My grandfather was involved in mining in the area for 25 years. He is 88 now and highly concerned that moving the statue would damage it.

"He is all for Whitehaven and does not oppose regeneration for this development in any way, but for the statue to be moved and damaged would break his heart.”