Black Miners Museum

Digging Deep

Coal Miners of African Caribbean Heritage
National Narratives from across the UK

Greetings and warm wishes from Nottingham News Centre CIC and its latest heritage project,
Digging Deep: Coal Miners of African Caribbean Heritage, National Narratives from across the UK
with valuable support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and made possible by National Lottery players. We hope you will become part of this project, just contact us to find out more.


The two-year project, based in Nottingham, East Midlands UK, commences April 2017 and ends April 2019. Nottingham News Centre will work in collaboration with our project partners:

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Communities Inc. Nottingham and the National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMMfE) as well as a variety of supporting organisations from around the world.

This heritage project is led by volunteers from across the UK and focuses on collating and sharing the experiences of former coal miners of African Caribbean heritage, exhibited through a variety of media-based, creative art forms.

Project Significance

Over decades, African Caribbean coal miners stood shoulder to shoulder with white British, European and Asian miners, toiling underground to help fuel the UK economy.

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Some even died in the process. Yet they are the forgotten ones. Their part in Britain’s industrial past has never been told…until now.

Hundreds of black men worked in deep coal mines across the UK with concentrations of black miners working in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire, Bristol, Kent, Durham, south Wales and Scottish coal mines, for example.

Gedling Colliery Nottinghamshire, was known as ‘The Pit of Nations’, as it was thought that black miners made up at least a quarter of the workforce (between the 1950s-1980s), as symbolised on the Gedling colliery banner.

Project Legacy

Due to the resounding success of Nottingham News Centre’s one year pilot HLF project titled, Miners of African Caribbean Heritage: Narratives from Nottinghamshire (2015-2016) and the….

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momentum gained from a renewal in public interest into mining heritage, this exciting project will expand and increase public awareness and access plus initiate a richer understanding of the contributions made to Britain’s industrial past by miners of African Caribbean heritage from across the UK.

Listen to former miner,
Reverend Kenneth Bailey, share his memories of coal mining for over 25 years.

Project Activities

This two-year project aims to:

  • Research and collate personal narratives / oral histories of former miners of African Caribbean heritage, from across the UK with the valuable support of volunteers from across the UK.
  • Through partnership work, help to incorporate elements of former black miners’ narratives / oral histories for public access (example formats: quotes, photos, portraits and artefacts) into various mining heritage sites / museums such as: the National Coal Mining Museum for England UK, (Wakefield, Yorkshire), Bilsthorpe Mining Museum (Nottinghamshire), Gedling Country Park Heritage Centre, (proposed in Nottinghamshire), Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum , Blaenafon, Torfaen (South Wales) and the National Mining Museum, Midlothian (Scotland).
  • Produce a documentary video about the narratives of the coal miners of African heritage project for public viewing.
  • Offer oral history workshops, presenting, interviewing and video production training for volunteers.
  • Offer creative learning workshops in coal art crafts as well as group activities understanding sustainable energy and ecology. Workshops are aimed at young and older people with sessions facilitated by professional artists / scientists.
  • Create an archive of former black miners’ narratives (i.e. scripts, images, audio, photographs, images, video links and database) for public access and collaborative development.
    Create an exciting and unique touring, photographic exhibition of former black miners to be displayed at mining museums and various venues around the UK. The exhibition will be made available for hire to schools, educational and heritage organisations and community groups (local and national). The exhibition will feature rare mining artefacts, images, research information and oral histories collated by volunteer ex-miners and project participants.

Become part of this project, just contact us today to find out more.

Project Outcomes

Outcomes for heritage:

Experiences of coal miners from across the East Midlands and the UK will be better identified, recorded, interpreted and explained. The research and new knowledge gained, will be available through an online archive linked to local and national mining heritage sites public access, ensuring a more balanced, richer, historical discourse.

Outcomes for people:

Volunteers from diverse groups, both young and more senior as well as volunteer former miners, will have access to creative learning activities such as: coal art (sculpture), media skills training, publishing experience, project management, planning, exhibition curating and project management.

In addition, volunteers will experience life skills such as: teambuilding, self-confidence strategies, organisational and speaking / presenting skills. The project will also help improve national attitudes and behaviours towards collective contributions made by diverse groups in the history of UK industry.

A wider range of people, from different geographical areas around the UK, will have fresh opportunities to engage in mining heritage, as it will be more inclusive, modern in output and richer in content.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

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