Posted on 28 January 2016
The film, These Fragments, looks at the cultural and physical erasure of the coal mining industry from the landscape around Barnsley, South Yorkshire – the capital of the Yorkshire Coalfield for over 100 years.
At its peak, the Barnsley area boasted 85 pits and was the most important coalmining area in the UK. It was the origin of the year-long Miners' Strike in 1984-5, the Huskar disaster in 1838 and the Oaks disaster of 1866. The last two deep mines in Yorkshire and the UK, Hatfield and Kellingley, survived until 2015.
However, it is now difficult to tell it was ever a mining area. Currently among the 10 percent most deprived communities in the UK, the film explores the removal of buildings and the fragmentation and disruption of community and social memory.
A video-ballad, the filmhas no narrator, with voices being those of the miners themselves. The soundtrack is also provided by musicians and writers who are miners, relatives of miners, or have a close connection with the area.
Stephen Linstead, Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Working Lives at the University’s York Management School, said: “The film portrays a distinctive emotional landscape through the words, songs and culture of miners, miners’ sons and daughters, and through the words of miners themselves.
“Portraying danger, death, sickness, hardship, poverty, patronization, violence and often naked class warfare, the film also tells a story of struggles for collectivity, creativity, self-determination, self-support, and a culture rich with humour, music and politics. It’s a story of tragedy yet hope, with a troubling challenge – that our natural environment needs to be humanly sustainable.
“This is my first film, made as an adjunct to my scholarly work, and is in the handheld tradition. It indicates the cultural and political richness of the communities struggling for remembrance and survival.”
Professor Linstead has shown and spoken about the film at events in Brazil and Canada, and will be speaking about it at the Corporate Bodies Film Festival in The Hague on 13 February. It is hoped the film will raise awareness for a charitable project to install a memorial to the Oaks Colliery disaster. For further information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/RememberTheOaks/