Editor: Culture and coal are linked in so many of our communities

Culture and coal. They might not be two words which many people would put together but anybody who lived in those communities knows how inextricably linked they are in many hearts.

By Nancy Fielder
Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 6:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 6:48 am
The magnificent Grimethorpe Colliery Band are just one example of incredible culture in our pit villages
The magnificent Grimethorpe Colliery Band are just one example of incredible culture in our pit villages

Working in the pits was never a bowl of cherries but music and entertainment thrived in a way unique to those families who have since been scattered.

Culture – long before we ever used the word so widely – was alive and kicking in villages which have never since managed to thrive in the way they did back then. There were bonds which were best described through the lyrics and tunes written in their honour.

There were relationships which live on through performances by those determined to keep these wonderful musical traditions alive.

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They are celebrated in a brutally honest way – the good, the bad and the ugly but always in a way which makes you want to join in and sing along.

Just before lockdown began, I went with my mum to a performance of music from mine villages in the North East.

The words were designed to make you smile, to laugh at their silliness … and it was one of the most poignant nights I can remember.

Music gives us a magical look back in time, it breathes life into stories that would have otherwise decayed and it leaves us unsure whether our tears are in sadness or joy.

So, I absolutely adore the idea of a South Yorkshire Coalfields bid for UK City of Culture 2025, see Page 18. I can’t think of a better tribute to those too easily erased from the history books for anything other than poverty and protest.

And, oh how our neighbourhoods still need that boost, even now, so long after the last shifts down the pits. But I can see the irony, believe me, of this proposal being put forward by an MP for the party which deliberately and determinedly stamped out everything that music represented.

I am not naive enough to say we should forgive and forget, quite the opposite, because the damage is still there for all to see and feel. However, what a celebration of strong South Yorkshire folk this could be and what a way to tell the other side of the story. I hope politicians of all parties come together to make this happen. UK City of Culture 2025: South Yorkshire Coalfields … count me in.