Dealing with the past: Coal Community and Change


The coal industry has a long and proud association with the East Midlands. Coal Community and Change (1965 – 2015) explores memories of mining in the region through photographs and aims to capture much of what was important and is still part of living memory. We hope to trigger remembering among those who lived in the coal mining era and to show distinctive aspects of mining to new generations.

The exhibition helps to ensure that the heritage of the coal industry is not lost forever. This is an important issue in the East Midlands. The region was a particular focus of the miners’ strike of 1984-85. The bitter divisions of that time still linger, with resentment enduring to the present day. However, the time has come to face up to these divisions, and to try and avoid the paralysing chasm that exists between and within communities continuing into the future. If both sides in the ageing mining population engage in this unifying effort, the mining heritage, including the memories of miners and their families, will not be lost to future generations. This exhibition therefore offers a unique chance to reach out and involve a younger audience.

The exhibition has been assembled by Natalie Braber, David Amos and Paul Fillingham and financed by Nottingham Trent University’s Global Heritage Fund. We are extremely grateful to all the photographers, mining groups and individuals who have let us share their photographs and memories. We would also like to thank Professor Graham Black who advised on the project.

Exhibition Tour Dates

  • Mansfield – March 2019
  • Chesterfield – April 2019
  • Harworth and Bircotes Town Hall, May 2019
  • National Coal Mining Museum for England, June 2019
  • Conkers Discovery Centre, Ashby, July/Aug 2019
  • Nottingham Trent University, Conference, Sept 2019

The tour has now ended but a new version of the exhibition is being designed for display in public libraries and other community spaces.

We are collecting stories inspired by the pictures in the exhibition

Pit Ponies emerge from Pleasley Colliery in the 1970s

Pit ponies worked underground until the 1970s. How do you think they felt coming out of the mine to the surface? 

Coal Miners home in the 1960s

Housing for mining families improved in the 1950’s and 1960’s. What are your memories of the decor and appliances from this time? 

Coal miners' families seaside excursion, 1970s

Pit holidays were important to mining communities. What are your memories of communal trips to the seaside? 

Coal Queen, 1970s

Coal queens were an iconic part of mining culture. What are your thoughts about women as coal queens?

Closure of Sutton Colliery 1989

The coal industry was a huge employer for many decades in the UK. Tell us about any family connections you have to the industry?

Flying pickets at Bilsthorpe 1984

In the 1970s and 80s, mining communities became the focus for strikes and protest. What is your experience of this period and do you think mining communities will ever recover from all of the strikes?

Demolition of Ollerton Colliery

Winding wheels and coal tips were once a familiar sight across many parts of the UK.  What are your memories of this industrial landscape?

Clipstone colliery headstocks and nearby power pylons

After three decades of pit closures, the living memory of a way of life is disappearing. What coal mining legacy is left near you?

There are many more images in the touring exhibition. Follow @miningheritage on Twitter to confirm exhibition dates, venues, related events and publications. We hope that you enjoy the Coal, Communities and Change exhibition and will share your comments and memories. If you attend one of the exhibition venues, remember to vote for your favourite picture and complete our survey. We will be sharing comments and stories in our a forthcoming conference and print publication.

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