Pleasley Colliery, Notts

Simon Mears

Leicester, United Kingdom

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One of the few intact examples of a 19th century colliery in the UK.. long since abandoned, derelict and fenced off.

The Miner’s strike of 1984 deeply divided the working classes of the UK, between one another and in conflict with the yuppie privatisation ideal of PM Thatcher’s moneterism, as the strikers were portrayed by a government friendly media as agitators and communists under the leadership of Arthur Scargill. Whatever the economics be, of coal as a sustainable and profitable source of energy, the basics were that tens of thousands of people, entire communities, were being forced into redundancy and into the unknown. The strike lasted as long as the workers could last without money to heat and feed and clothe their families, which was almost a year. Communities were further isolated from the rest of the country by the drafting in of police forces from all over the UK, stopping pickets and charity food vehicles reaching their destination. For some weeks England resembled East Germany with police vehicles placed on the slip roads of motorways and coal villages cordoned off and open only to residents.

I thought of posting the lyrics to U2’s Red Hill Mining Town, apt as they are, talking of the “hands of steel”, the miners and the “hearts of stone”, Thatcher and the National Coal Board, a song that steered clear of politics but preferred to delve into the despair of the traditional working class male who expected to be able to provide for his family and expected nothing more, who was left with nothing, whose “love runs cold in the cabins of the night”, except a sickening doubt and worry that can blow the family wide apart and leave one nowhere – “love, slowly stripped away, love, seen its better day, hanging on.. the lights go out on Red Hill town..”

here’s a folk-punk song by The Men They Couldn’t Hang called….
SHIRT OF BLUE, a tale of two brothers, a miner and a police officer.

‘Hey’ there Tommy have you got a new shirt
is it’s colour a fine bright blue?
Has your mother sent you up to the school
From the street with a pretty view?

Shall we wrestle in the old school yard
Like the other children do?
We can tear our hands, we can scuff our shoes
And I’ll rip that shirt off you

Hey there Tommy since you moved away
They’ve taken our town and they’ve made it new
And now there stands a chemical works
Where the cherry orchard grew
And I married Lucy from the back of the class
Who once wrote letters to you
And we’ve got kids and we send them to school
from the street with a pretty view
Oh your shirt of blue
Oh your shirt of blue

Oh your shirt of blue
Oh your shirt of blue
(Chorus…)
Maybe Tommy
We grew up too quick
From the fields
Where the flowers grew
From a butterfly stick
To a baton and a brick
You changed your uniform far too soon

Hey there Tommy shall we meet again
In the morning wet with dew
Me at the gates of the colliery
And you with your shirt of blue
Shall we wrestle in the muddy patch
like the other poor men do?
We can tear our hands we can scuff our shoes
And I will rip that shirt off you
Oh your shirt of blue
Oh your shirt of blue

Artwork Comments

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