During some research I came across some documents titled ‘The future of the british coal industry – plans and outlines’ dated 1952 a government document. In the same box dated nearly a decade later I found a set of beautiful aerial photographs commissioned by the National Coal Board (NCB) in 1966-67. Each shot taken with the precision of a reconnaissance mission. The idea and purpose was not military but (I find) something more sinister altogether.
The images show collieries, pit mining villages and early open cast mining, the purpose of the images were creating a guide of where these villages (NCB / Local govenment owned) were in relation to the coal seams. During this time the NCB was in strong voice claiming no collieries would be closed, communities and coal production would remain the same.
The real plans were already being outlined for the decision to either remove the villages to gain access to the coal seams or work around the locations with larger open cast mining operations removing the old collieries. If the villages were to be removed, the residents were relocated to new council estates (social housing), which in the initial stages was a much welcomed move but as time past developed a different set of problems. But we’ll save that for another day.
The collieries did close, some communities were disbanded in many different fazes and the coal has now and continuing to been mined by opencast operations and sub surface mines where possible. So where is the problem?
The problem lies in the myths of the good old traditional ways, a myth the government of the time, fueled as did some of their predecessors. A myth I wonder if hadn’t been fueled and nurtured by figure heads would the years 1984-85 have been as bad. Or such a bitter pill to swallow. I am not overwriting the cause of what the miners, families or communities suffered in 1984-85. I know it and was part of it.
I am questioning the management of the industry in the two decades preceding the 1980s and if the industry and communities had been managed better and helped to advanced rather than milked could certain (not all) causes of 1984-85 been avoided, and if the bigger plan had been explained and propagander not used would the miners have felt backed into a corner and would the government need to retaliate. For me food for thought.
If you were to take a visit to these sites today the desolate aura of a North East council estate is no longer existence, In most cases new development housing and communities reinventing themselves are to be seen, Has this come from the ‘bigger plan’ or a community wanting to better their way of life?