It was the summer of love, the summer of power and fear it was 1984. Over dramatic I know but for many people living in the Britain 1984 was the year everything changed. I was brought up in a mining village, although my father wasn’t a miner all of my friend’s fathers worked for the NCB. As with the acrid, sooty smoke coming from the chimney’s on a cold winter’s morning, the NCB got into the blood of everyone in the village.
Then came 1984 and everything changed. One of the most chilling memories I have is standing at night on a motorway bridge watching the first convoy of Metropolitan police officer being ferried north. I had never seen anything like it and in truth there had never been anything like it.
So 30 years later what is left of the mining world in which I grew up? Surprisingly little on the surface as most of the old slag heaps have now been carpeted by tress as part of the National Forest. However, you only have the scrape the soil a little and you come across the blue black slag that all these heaps of human endeavour seemed to be made of. There is still coal mining going on in the area but no longer deep beneath the surface rather under the illumination of the sun rather than neon lights and miners lamps.
So many of the old pit yards are now modern housing estates which seems a strange thing to replace them with – gone is the ever presence winding gear replaced by the equally ubiquitous Sky dish bolted to the side of the houses.
I set myself a project in the early part of the year to record these lost places as part of my 30 years later project. Yesterday whilst wandering around this buried history I started to realise the enormity of the task – just how do you record the missing, the empty space no longer filled with life? Even my archive of old photograph’s I made in the 1970’s and 1980’s is almost totally devoid of any acknowledgement that there was a ming community all around me.
So were to go with all this? I haven’t got a clue but will be an interesting journey – for me at least.
As a bit of a post script – I have decided, at the moment, to include works other than photography in this project – when appropriate.