Postcard from Yorkshire

We've just got back from a long weekend with my brother-in-law and family where we had the bit of Christmas we failed to have in December owing to the snow. On Sunday we visited the National Coal Mining Museum for England where I liked this view of the old pithead with a tiny sliver of moon in the distance.

It's a fascinating place to visit. We took the underground tour led by an ex-miner who worked at the nearby Grimethorpe colliery for 26 years. He gave a fascinating insight into life 450 feet below and delighted the children on the tour with tales of his gory injuries; various mining accidents through the ages; and how to prevent the many rats and mice down the mine from eating your lunch. We learnt how reliant the miners were on keeping a good airflow through the mine and how a simple sheet to divert the air could be used to disperse any dangerous gases detected via a Davy Lamp.

If you get the chance to visit, please do as the museum needs all the support it can get owing to the recent cuts announced by the government. The next two years sees the museum's subsidy cut by £140,000 per year, followed by a further £90,000 so that after 3 years there will be no central financial help. However, because it is designated a national museum, it can't start charging an entrance fee to recoup this financial loss. It's a clear case of use it or lose it.


  1. I can never decide if I want to go on one of those trips as I do get slightly claustrophobic but I think they would be fascinating. Big Pit in Wales is meant to be very good as well, and free

  2. PG - 1 of the children didn't want to go down for that reason, but our guide was very good at likening the experience to positive ones the child had encountered on holiday. He came out 1.5 hours later beaming because he'd had such a great time.

    The journey in the lift is probably the most claustrophobic bit, but they've put things to see on the way down/up so it's not too bad.

    I've been to Big Pit several times as it was our lunch stop when I used to arrange tree planting weekends in South Wales. There's a lot of similarities between the two but also very different too.

    Big Pit's also free because its a designated Welsh National Museum. I don't know how the spending cuts will affect these museums as the Welsh Assembly can choose to make their cuts differently to central government.

  3. PS For anyone nervous about going underground, both this museum and Big Pit have plenty to see above ground to make it well worth an afternoon or even a full day out.

  4. Glad you got to reclaim a little bit of the missed Christmas plan. Looks like a great place to visit. If I'm ever up there I will try to remember it - I always love visiting the slate mines in North Wales and the Blue John mines in Derbyshire when I was a child, and although the idea of pot-holing gives me shivers I love caves.

    I hope the museum manages to stay open, such places are such an important part of the heritage of the area.

  5. My dad did his national service down in the mines, an experience that loomed large for him for the rest of his life. If you weren't farming, mining (and mills) were the two main employers around his home town in Lancashire. Somehow my closest ancestors managed to dig themselves out of the pits and find themselves other occupations. Coal mining isn't just part of Britain's regional heritage; it's part of what made the whole country great. It would a real loss to history if museums like this were to disappear. And you can tell them that this Canadian says so!

  6. Thanks for popping over to projectforty...good to see a fellow veg grower and blogger up the road! I have a comatosed veg growing blog that needs to be cut back and pruned. Perhaps that's my next job!

  7. You could have popped in for a cuppa with us on your way home!

    I've been to the NCMMfE quite a few times as it's not far from us. My granded was a miner at Silverwood Colliery in Rotherham from being 15 till he was 60...he was in charge of the Bevin Boys down the mines during the war.He also had some firly gory tales to tell about injuries, near misses and stuff. He was wonderful!

    Thanks for reminding me of him!

  8. Janet - you'll find it fascinating judging by the places you've visited already :)

    Helen - so your father was one of the Bevin Boys we learnt about!

    Projectforty - welcome! Nice to see a visit from a Local Vocal :)

    Nutty Gnome - we were staying at my BILs in Tingley :)


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