Generations exploring together

Today I visited the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield with Enter CIC as part of a project called, ‘When Yesterday Was Young’.

When we first arrived at the museum we headed to the on-site library. The librarians and archivists were aware of our visit and had laid out some materials for us to read and commence our initial research. I found it very interesting to read the articles and chapters from some of books. It helped us to think of ideas for our project and how we can adapt the information to formulate a drama piece for performance.

We then went on an underground tour where an ex-miner (tour guide) took us underground into a mine that had once been operational. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the day because it was very surreal to think that my peers and I were stood in the place that had once been filled with hundreds of men and families. A completely different way of life for so many men and families. I enjoyed learning about the different equipment that was used and the different conditions that people worked in. All of which were horrendous, but it was what they knew at that time. Our tour guide was knowledgeable about the mine itself and the life of the families that used to live and work in that and other mines close to the area.

After the underground tour, we had lunch then split up, some of our committee went back to the library and some participated in the Reed Bed Tour. I accompanied a few of my team members who had been tasked with interviewing and filming some volunteers, costumed characters and staff members who work at the National Coal Mining Museum for England. You should be able to view the interviews on our website, or on When Yesterday Was Young Facebook page.

After the interviews, we moved further on to Hope Mine which was a 5-minute walk up the road, but still part of the museum. This part looked more abandoned and less looked-after. There were interactive exhibits within some of the buildings with activities for all ages.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The staff and volunteers were friendly, welcoming and very helpful. They all knew so much about their respective area that at some points it was hard to take in all the information, but we captured as much as we could on video and still images.

I think the site itself is well looked-after and organised. I like how visitors can go down into the mine. To my knowledge no other closed mines permit this. It would benefit the children and young people of Enter CIC (www.entercic.org) greatly to go to the site themselves to experience what they can and take home the information for themselves. They need to understand that most of their grandparents, or great grandparents would have been working in a mine like the mine we visited. Our young people are scheduled to visit the museum on Saturday 8th July 2017. I know they are going to love the experience and learn such a lot about how their ancestors lived.

James Neil Priestley, Youth Committee
Saturday, June 24, 2017