Coal not Dole: Women against Pit Closures @ Experience Barnsley

Being from Barnsley, anything to do with the miners strike becomes a punchline, an easy dig and a joke, and as the town ages, the true meaning and importance behind these events starts to get lost.  With this year being the 30th anniversary of the miners strike, Experience Barnsley put’s it’s own stamp on the commemoration by looking specifically at the role of Women during the miners strike.

The miner strike is an easy target to poke fun at northerners for if you don’t know the history or didn’t grow up in an area so deeply effected.  For me personally it has always struck a cord, I am too young to have experienced it directly but I have learnt about the history, seen the documentaries, and live in the shadow of what happened 30 years ago.  The town is still in recovery and plenty of people believe it will never be the same as it once was.  When I was younger I visited the National Coal Mining Museum and I distinctly remember seeing a Barnsley Women against Pit Closures t shirt in a display and it struck me really deeply.  The thought that women in my town could hold such an important role really stuck me and I was surprised at how strong my feels were, so after a long time trying to find the time I finally found my way to this exhibition on my lunch break.

The exhibition is small but powerful.  The centrepiece is a video composed of various interviews with women who were part of the movement that is well worth a watch in it’s entirety.  Around the exhibition there are various artefacts and powerful photographs that really highlight the women’s role, and it is more important then you might think.  For many women this was there first taste of independence, and many didn’t look back.  For women in these town’s it was arguably the biggest push for women’s rights in history.  Family’s were close to starving but communities stood stronger then ever, this exhibition aims to show the great, and the negative, that came out of this infamous strike.

This exhibition draws people in for a number of reasons, the social history, local history, women’s rights, politics etc and I may or may not have cried, luckily no one was around to witness it!  The exhibition is free so you really should drop in if you have the chance, however I haven’t given you much warning as it ends this Sunday!

Kariss xx

P.S you can check out my post on my first visit to Experience Barnsley here.


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