We were very pleased to welcome the Walker family to Nottingham Industrial Museum yesterday for a private tour.
Travelling all the way from Australia and New Zealand, they were keen to see our Mining Heritage display as they were the relatives of Eric Walker, the late miner and well-known mining historian.
We were also very pleased to have ex-miner and academic Dr David Amos join our volunteer Blacksmith and ex-miner Jeff, and David Coleman, ex-miner, mines rescuer and now historical coal mining entertainer.
The family only had a limited time with us but in addition to having a whistle-stop tour of our galleries, they had a fascinating illustrated talk by Dr Amos where they watched clips from the 1984 Channel 4 documentary “All Our Working Lives” which featured Eric Walker.
They (and I) were incredulous when hearing about the extraordinary working conditions endured by ordinary men going about their daily work. Many following in their father’s, grandfather’s, and great-grandfather’s boots…
David Coleman provided us with wonderful entertainment in his authentic miner’s gear – lamp, compressed cardboard safety hat, breathing apparatus, knee pads and boots – all pretty basic equipment.
We heard about the practicalities of working underground: the horses, the pit props, the gases, the shaft collapses, the rescues… and the deaths. David performed some of his works in the character of a 1960’s miner and in regional accent, bringing the whole scene to life.
Despite the weather not being on our side, the family gathered outside for a commemorative photo with Dr Amos and David Coleman. I am pretty certain that they went away with happy memories of their relative, and an understanding of the tough industry of coal mining in the East Midlands.
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