Spotlight on lost Doncaster mining communities

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Striking images of the changing landscapes of Doncaster’s mining communities go on display next month.

Inspired by his late grandfather, photographer Andrew Foley has been working on the exhibition for seven years. It shows the ‘docile nature’ of places that were once hives of activity.

Entitled Coal Fields: A Legacy of the Miners’ Strike, the pictures examine the changed landscape of mining communities since the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.

The work features images from the sites of collieries, in the Barnsley, Doncaster and South Yorkshire coalfields, which were open immediately prior to the dispute.

Andrew explained: “I have an affinity with the subject. My grandfather spent all his working life underground and I have always lived in a mining community, close to where the strike started.

“I remain constantly aware of how evidence of Britain’s heavy industry has steadily diminished, to the point where once-thriving workplaces now offer little acknowledgement of their past.

“I started the project in 2007 and some of the areas have changed again in that time. The pictures are quiet. But so are the locations they came from. I was struck by the contrast between the current docile nature of these places and the hives of activity they once were. The concrete shaft-caps are like tombstones, a memorial to the spot where Britain’s energy was hauled from the earth.

“For some of the sites, I knew where the pit had been. Others were more difficult to locate, especially when new road layouts and buildings had dramatically changed the topography. But if I stood and waited, I would often be passed by a middle-aged man, usually walking a dog, who could tell me exactly where the pit had been. If he hadn’t worked there, his father had, or his brother, or his uncle.

“ These meetings emphasised the social importance of the mining industry at that time. Life revolved around the pits.

“That structure was swept away very quickly and hasn’t been replaced. In less than 30 years, evidence from more than a century of coal production has virtually gone.”

The exhibition runs at Doncaster Museum on Chequer Road from March 1 to April 12. More details on 01302 734293 or visit




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