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Nottingham project highlights the history of black miners

AN UNTOLD STORY: Project co-ordinator Norma Gregory (left) with ex-miner Fitzalbert Taylor

NOTTINGHAM NEWS Centre, a community interest company that aims to improve the sourcing, collating and sharing of diverse local history and community news, has been awarded a grant to launch a special project looking at the history of African Caribbbean miners.

Coal Miners of African Heritage: Narratives from Nottinghamshire, will document the memories of former African-Caribbean coal miners in Nottinghamshire.

The project will cover the nationalisation of British coal in 1947, the miners’ strikes of the 1970s and 1984/1985 and the demise of British coal mining in recent years.

The project, which is funded by a £9600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will involve supporting organisation Communities Inc. who will also work with volunteers from the local community to focus on capturing, preserving and recording the memories of BAME (black minority ethnic) ex-miners of Nottinghamshire’s coalfields.

EXCITED

Historian Norma Gregory, Director of Nottingham News Centre, and the project co-ordinator said: “We are excited and extremely proud to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, to deepen the community’s understanding of an important part of Nottinghamshire’s social and cultural heritage. We are confident the project will support many senior and younger citizens from all nationalities in their own understanding and relationship to and within Nottinghamshire’s coal mining heritage.”

As part of the project a team of volunteers will receive training in oral history, archive research as well as audio and visual media recording. Team members will then conduct research trips to key local venues such as Bilsthorpe Mining Heritage Museum and Gedling Country Park (formerly Gedling Colliery). They will also research the working conditions and relationships formed between miners from different ethnic backgrounds.

After interviewing former BAME miners the project will produce a collection of audio recordings along with an accompanying booklet to help preserve and share the miners’ oral histories in hard copy format.

The booklet and audio recordings will also explore and record memories of miners’ transition from their lives in the Caribbean to the Nottinghamshire coalfields and their thoughts about the closure of so many historic mines in the region such as the Gedling Colliery in 1991 to the closure of Nottingham’s last pit, Thoresby, in July 2015.

Gregory added: “We hope that this project will enable many people with direct and indirect links to coal mining heritage, as well as individuals unaware of contributions made by diverse communities to the mining industry, to learn about the transition and change affecting many generations.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “This is an interesting and untold part of Nottinghamshire’s industrial heritage. Exploring these types of stories can give us a crucial insight into the history of our local communities which is why the Heritage Lottery Fund believes that they should be preserved and shared as much as possible.”

The project will be completed by 31st December 2016.

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