The Kellingley March

For months preceding its closure, Kellingley Colliery had been in the news in Yorkshire and, when the date for closure came, I decided I’d go on the march the following day, along with my youngest son. I didn’t know what to expect: I’ve never been anywhere near a mine – would our presence be tolerated? We arrived at noon for a 1pm march and I’m glad we did, because we got to see the gathering of the crowd and to feel the atmosphere, which was surprisingly celebratory. Joe and I had a great time, mingling with the crowd and taking photos – it was a day when people didn’t seem to mind having a camera stuck in their face.

Knottingley Silver Band, surrounded by a crowd, prepare to play "Gresford: The Miners' Hymn".
Knottingley Silver Band, surrounded by a crowd, prepare to play “Gresford: The Miners’ Hymn”.

A brass band – the Knottingley Silver Band, whom I later photographed in rehearsal – arrived. They played a tune which riveted me to the spot. As I was so close, I could see the music: “Gresford: The Miners’ Hymn.” I didn’t understand the relevance of “Gresford“, but I do now.

Strong feelings, held for many years.

Joe and I joined the march. I felt a little bit of a fraud but was enjoying myself too much to stand at the sidelines. After a short procession, the march turned left into the grounds of the Knottingley Social Club, where a couple of miners set light to the banners they were carrying, which made reference to the rift between the NUM and the UDM. I was on the opposite side to all the photographers, as you’ll see from my photos. What you won’t see is the woman behind me who complained loudly because I kept getting in front of her camera. If you look carefully in one of the shots, you’ll see Mrs Anne Scargill, who was married to the famous Arthur – now divorced.

A banner on fire, surrounded by a crowd of people, with many photographers.
Burning the banner. Mrs Anne Scargill can be seen in the crowd, just to the right of the burning banner.

After something to eat in the cafe of Morrison’s, Joe and I went home very satisfied with our day out – but I am always aware that, for the 400 men employed at the pit, this day represented a profound change in their lives.

Here’s a BBC news article about the march. I’m visible to the left-hand side of the second photo down, in the road with a camera round my neck.

The sign for Kellingley (Knottingley) Social Club
The sign for Kellingley (Knottingley) Social Club

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