University awarded more than £650,000 for landmark Coal Mining industry research project

The University of Wolverhampton has been awarded more than £650,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to undertake a major study of the British Coal industry and its subsequent demise.

Entitled On Behalf of the People; Work, Community, and Class in the British Coal Industry 1947-1994, the three-year project will be led by Keith Gildart, a Professor of Social and Labour History and former coal miner.

The project will seek to understand the everyday experiences of coal miners in the workplace, community and domestic sphere and shed new light on key moments in the history of the industry.

Working in partnership with the National Mining Museums of England, Scotland and Wales and the General Federation of Trade Unions, Professor Gildart, from the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, will also develop a comprehensive interactive website, blog, and touring exhibition.

He will look at the impact of significant events and issues such as public ownership, the industrial disputes of 1972, 1974 and 1984/5, and the subsequent closure of all of the nation's deep mines in the first two decades of the 21st Century. The project will also gauge the impact of these events on miners, their families, and the wider community. There are planned interviews with over 80 participants and there will be substantial community engagement in former mining areas.

Professor Gildart, who spent seven years as an underground coal miner in Wales between 1985 and 1992, said: “I am very pleased that the project has been awarded funding. It represents a landmark scholarly intervention into the history of the coal mining industry and how it shaped identities and communities in post-War Britain.

“Our work will explore the development of the industry, its workplace cultures, industrial identities, politics, and individual and collective experiences through a detailed examination of eight collieries in England, Scotland and Wales. We will be undertaking extensive archival work in the coalfields and interview former miners and their families.”

Miceal Barden, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “This is fantastic news for History and the Faculty and indicative of the strength of our research in this area.  We are delighted that the AHRC have awarded such a significant grant for this important and innovative research.  I would like to congratulate Keith and all involved with the bid.”

Professor Gildart added the work was particularly timely given the closure of Kellingley in 2015 - the last deep coal mine in Britain.

He said the resulting research material will be of use to academics, policymakers, schools, galleries, and museums. Work on the project will start in October 2017 and will run for three years.

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