This evening, we attended an event at the Durham Miner’s Hall, Redhills. I have never been to the Durham Miner’s Hall, before tonight, and I was quite surprised when I first saw it as it was a lot grander than I expected.
It seemed to me that the hall, when it was opened in 1915, would have been untouchable to the common man, or miner. When I think of a miner, it’s safe to say that this building would not be my first thought but nevertheless, it was beautiful.
The event that we were attending was a talk by Michael Chaplin, Sid Chaplin’s son, who talked about his father’s life and works. Sid Chaplin was a miner turned writer who once worked in the Dean and Chapter Colliery so I went into the event expecting personal stories about the Dean and Chapter Colliery, that isn’t exactly what I got. I did enjoy the event and Michael’s talk helped me to build up a more rounded picture of mining in general, but there wasn’t too much on the Dean and Chapter which was slightly disappointing.
But like I said I still enjoyed the event, and one quote that really stood out to me was a phrase that Sid Chaplin used to describe his writing “My works are stolen from real life”. Notice the wording, “stolen” from life, not taken from life as others might say. This quote brought me back to a thought that I have been having throughout the project, miners are thought of as manual labourers, but they are in actual fact creative and intelligent minds.
Without his marras at the Dean and Chapter Colliery, a large chunk of Sid Chaplin’s work would not exist. Of course, successful writing depends on many things such as the choice of words and where they are placed, but without that initial idea, there would be no end product. So if you find yourself reading a story or poem by Sid Chaplin, give a thought to the miner who the story was “stolen” from, as it wouldn’t be there without him.