Dealing with the Past: Coal, Community and Change (1965-2015)

The coal industry, once a main employer in the East Midlands, has a long and proud association with the arts and this travelling exhibition aims to deal with the contested memories of coalmining in the region through a selection of iconic photographs.

The exhibition opens to the public at Mansfield Museum on Saturday 9 March and will run until 30 March 2019. It then moves to Chesterfield Museum, opening there on 4 April and running until 29 April 2019. Other venues the exhibition will be visiting include Harworth Town Hall (Bircotes), the National Coalmining Museum for England and Conkers Discovery Centre. Funded by the Global Heritage Research Fund at Nottingham Trent University, it aims to cover different important aspects of coal mining in the region during a time of rapid change. These include coal communities and change, the role of women in coal mining, the impact of closures and rationalisation, strikes and industrial action and legacies of the industry in today’s society.

Dot Hills Project

This project, funded by The Heritage Lottery, carried out with Amanda and Richard Johnson of Kidology Arts, used art as a vehicle to engage participants with and preserve 'pit talk', the coal mining language used by former miners in Nottinghamshire.

Within the region the history and memorabilia of the mines is often commemorated, but 'pit talk', the language used by miners in their daily work is frequently not considered. Miners are often surprised that their language
which has many unresearched variations, is of value, as it was taken for granted for so long. However, if this language is not preserved it could be lost within a generation if nothing is done to record it.

This project worked with school children and local mining heritage groups to create visual and sound art surrounding the 'dot hills', the huge spoil heaps which dominated mining villages. Memories were shared inter-generationally, as was vocabulary, and these were used to create a piece of sound and visual art to
extend the 'brotherhood of miners' to the next generation.

The resulting artwork was displayed in the summer of 2018 at Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Centre and accompanied by workshops where children could create further 'dot hills'.

For more information on Kidology Arts, see:

Songs and Rhymes from the Mines

The coal industry, once a main employer of the region, has a long and proud association with literature and the arts and this project aimed to celebrate how the coal industry in the East Midlands has been and can be reflected in the literary world. It did this by engaging with existing pit poetry, song and literature and by encouraging creative writing and song writing related to the industry. This is important as this area was a particular focus of the strike in 1984-85 and histories have not been forgotten.


By engaging with the cultural side of the heritage, it was hoped that both sides of the strike feel they have something to offer to this project. Mining anthologies have been produced for the North-East communities, but there has never been work of this kind within an East Midlands setting.

As part of this project, creative writing and poetry workshops resulted in short stories and poems which were published in a book, accompanied by a CD with old and new mining songs performed by local artists. We also worked with school children to create new lyrics to a traditional mining song.

Several events have taken place where the poetry, creative writing and music has been performed to celebrate this project, including at the City Arts in Nottingham, and 'The Pit' micropub in Newstead.


East Midlands Coal Mining Heritage Forum

The East Midlands Coal Mining Heritage Forum was set up in 2017 by Keith Moore (South Derbyshire Mining Preservation Group), Stuart Warburton (Snibston and Coalville Preservation Group), David Amos and Natalie Braber (Nottingham Trent University).


Through our links with local councils, heritage groups and researchers, we found that many heritage groups were working in isolation, without full knowledge of other heritage groups existence or events. Many of these groups have similar training needs and could share resources. We thought it would be useful to have a central group which would allow individuals and groups to share information and come together to discuss needs.

Therefore, it is hoped that the formation of the EMCHF will improve networking between coalmining heritage groups and organisations in the region, with regard to information on collections, requests for assistance and marketing of local coalmining heritage events. A main aim of the EMCHF is to try and ensure that important coalmining collections in the region are not lost through closures due to austerity measures and the ageing interest groups. We would also like to try and determine what we have got in terms of coalmining heritage and skills in the region and to encourage collaboration where possible.