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Tell us your Story

Mining life in general: you might think about  the importance of mams and aunts in keeping family life together; how women cared for everybody, including neighbours and the elderly.  Do you have a memory of a woman in your family who took on a major caring role? 

For example 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. 

Your story will be on display at our gallery and also shown on our website

Mining Culture: you might think about the ways in which women were creative in their own right. Women knitted, sewed, cooked, made mats, and managed household budgets sometimes when there was very little money.

For example. 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. 

For example 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. 

Mining Politics: women often played a background role in party politics and were seldom put forward for parliament. They could not join the National Union of Mineworkers unless they worked in the pit canteen or offices. Because many gave up work on marriage, they were not major players in the trade union movement. However, they had a tradition of supporting their men during strikes. Some were very active in the women's sections of the Labour Party and women were important in setting up a local branch of the Seaham Conservatives. 

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