The viaduct arches, The Sage Gateshead
A piece inspired by the long legacy of coal mining across the North of England. Newcastle is just one of the many areas of the north that was shaped by the boom of the black diamond and its inevitable collapse in the 80's, special nod to Maggie Thatcher for her every effort to squash the working classes! In all, 193,000 miners lost their jobs, communities were destroyed and coal was imported in from overseas.
Politics aside, it is important to remember the bravery, spirit and work ethos of the miners . It was an incredibly dangerous job, the perks were few and far between so the workers would do what they could to make pit life that bit more bearable. I remember my Grandad Warboys telling me stories from his days as a miner, he had been assigned a pit pony which he worked with every day... I think he felt sorry for him, it couldn't see in daylight anymore and spent most of its slowly days pulling carts of coal. Every morning my Grandad took him an apple and of an evening he would unleash the pony and ride him around the pits, the pony loved the opportunity to run before being bathed and groomed !! Sometimes I think it was as much for my Grandad as it was for the Pony, he loved that horse.
Grandad wasn't the only one, there are countless stories of miners having memorable friendship's with the canaries that they used to warn them of toxic gases... so much so that they would carry tiny canisters of oxygen to revive the birds in the instance that they keeled over!
The canaries bought for the mines were often female as they were less desirable as pets, aparently they did't sing as well... also canaries with 'defects', both were cheaper to purchase. In 1986 the use of the birds to detect deadly gas was deemed inhumane, although the miners’ feelings were mixed.