Three miners at Warsop Main Colliery in the 1960s. Source: Coal Authority

Coal, Community and Change 

Dealing with the past: Mining culture in the East Midlands (1965 – 2015) 

Coal, Community and Change explores mining culture in the East Midlands through photographs and living memory. Assembled by Natalie Braber, David Amos and Paul Fillingham, the exhibition was made possible through Nottingham Trent University’s Global Heritage Fund.

The East Midlands was a particular focus of the miners’ strike of 1984-85 and bitter divisions still linger with resentment enduring to the present day. However, the time has come to face up to the past, to try and bridge the chasm that exists between and within communities. If both sides in the ageing mining population engage in this unifying effort, our mining heritage, including the memories of miners and their families, will not be lost to future generations.

‘We are extremely grateful to all the photographers, mining groups and individuals who let us share their photographs and memories. We would also like to thank Professor Graham Black who advised on the project’. 

Dr Natalie Braber, Associate Professor in Linguistics, Nottingham Trent University.


One of the last teams from S5s coalface at Thoresby Colliery in 2015, the last coal mine in the East Midlands. Source: Anthony Kirkby

Coal, Community and Change launched at Mansfield museum in March 2019, touring venues in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire, and the National Coal Mining Museum England (NCMME). 

Attracting in excess of 70,000 visitors over a six month period, the exhibition explored the industry’s contested history and wider aspects of mining culture, including the role of women, social activities, housing, industrial decline and the environment.

“A main aim of the exhibition was to try and deviate away from the distorting effects of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike on the history of British coal mining, especially in the East Midlands. To that end, the period 1965-2015 was chosen as it reflected a longer period of decline and deindustrialisation which was within living memory and cumulated in the end of deep coal mining in Britain”.   David Amos (Research Assistant)


Coal, Community and Change exhibition at Mansfield Museum. Source: Thinkamigo


In January 2020 a more compact version of the exhibition was designed for display in public libraries and community spaces. Unfortunately COVID-19 social distancing resulted in the closure of such venues with visitors confined to their homes. 

Our response has been to create this virtual exhibition so that visitors can enjoy this remarkable collection of photographs and stories from the comfort of an armchair. 

‘If you can’t come to us, then we will come to you! Our virtual exhibition will be of interest to parents, teachers, school children and members of the general public, especially those who live in former mining communities and anyone who may be isolated as a result of Coronavirus’.  

Paul Fillingham, Research and design lead, Thinkamigo.