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Women's contribution to mining life, culture and politics

During March, EDAN Gallery will be showing an exhibition entitled 'Shifted: women's contribution to mining life, culture and politics'. 


The exhibition will cover the whole history of mining and will seek to shift attention towards the work that women did over nearly two centuries to support their families and their local community.

During the years before mechanisation in the pits, and before the easy availability of household appliances,  the women did very heavy work supporting their men, their families and their neighbours. 

Even in the post-war years, it was assumed that men and women had different responsibilities and that girls and boys would grow up into different worlds.  Because women were mainly concerned with private matters, their lives and struggles are not given very much attention in stories about the coalfields. 

Womens Banner group

The Women’s Banner Group formed in November 2017 focuses on community engagement and celebrating women from varied backgrounds, welcoming input from the women of trade unions, politics and communities.

More of their story can be found at ... their website or Social Media

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The exhibition coincides with the 40th anniversary of the year long miners' strike. Women played an important part in that strike. If you have any stories you would like to tell about experiences relating to women during that year and afterwards, please do write them.


The exhibition will also be running on International Women's Day (8th March).  With that in mind, we see it as a celebration of women's contribution to life in our region and we hope you will enjoy taking part! 

Tell us your story ...

As a feature of our exhibition, we would like to hear some local stories about what it meant to be a woman in a mining community.  We will take some extracts from  your contributions and display the extracts over the course of the exhibition in our Gallery. 

The stories can be either from women or from men but they need to focus on attitudes to women, what was expected of women and what women accomplished. 


They can be as short or as long as you like. 

Southwick Reach

As a feature of our exhibition, we are working with Southwick Reach

Southwick REACH is a community organisation that organises arts and cultural activities, exhibitions and visits based on the interests of local people. 

The group is led by artist Lyn Killeen on behalf of members who live in or have a connection to Southwick.

More of their story can be found at ... their Facebook page ...  

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The story of a campaign

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the Vane Tempest Vigil.


The world that it represented is vanishing. Yet still the memories remain. Sometimes memories are distorted and romanticised. The words of the women in this publication are as they were spoken then. The photographs in the book speak for themselves and tell the women's story.

Available to purchase from the EDAN Art Gallery 

More information ...

To find out more about Women's role in the miners strike why not visit some of these links ...

Some of the amazing stories which have been submitted to us.

When the lads went for their career's interview on leaving school, they'd be asked, simply, 'Which one then?', meaning, which of Seaham's three pits did they plan on going down. As a female school leaver in 1974, my mother told me confidently, I didn't need to pass any exams, because I'd get married! Honestly, I loved her dearly and she was a first class mother, but really???

I had an aunt who for years cared for her bed-ridden mother in law in the front room of her council house. Then because she was the eldest daughter, she cared for her own mam and dad: went to their house every day to help them until they died, including nursing her mam through terminal cancer. At the same time she looked after her miner husband who worked shifts, brought up three children, and was the person who everybody in the wider family went to see when they were in trouble or needed advice.

My grandmother made clippie mats out of our old clothes - especially old coats. She would cut the material into strips and smaller pieces, sort them into different colours and make up her own designs which were mainly of big daisy-like flowers. Her whole house was carpeted with her rugs. When she died, my grandfather burnt her mat-making frame.

One of my friends played a huge role in the women's support groups in East Durham during the 1984-1985 miners' strike, running a kitchen and feeding striking miners and their families. The women raised thousands of pounds and showed that it was possible for women to organise themselves outside part politics. After the strike, this woman and some of those who worked alongside her continued to work for their local community and now they support food banks.

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