Just Passing By

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I was born in 1990, as the NW Leicestershire coal mining industry was coming to an end. I grew up in a big house in a small village, directly opposite what was once the entrance to the local coal mine. I never knew that site as anything more than an empty field with really long grass, grass that was ideal for losing myself in my imagination. As I grew-up and discovered photography, my curiosity for that field (now a housing estate) continued to develop. I longed to know what it felt like to be part of the mining community, so I began to use my camera to record the remains of the industry that shaped the social and geographic landscape of the place I call home.

In 2014 I was commissioned by Snibston Discovery Museum to make a series of photographs of Coalville with a focus on Snibston Colliery and Snibston Discovery Museum, and local peoples relationship with each.

What makes NW Leicestershire unique, in my eyes, was a couple of opportunities it found itself with after its last pit ceased production in 1992. First; The National Forest was planted. The aim was to transform more than two-hundred square miles of scarred English landscape, covering three counties. Resulting in a return to something like the areas pre-industrial state. Coalville found itself at the very heart of this ambitious regeneration. Second; Leicestershire County Council unveiled Snibston Discovery Museum, on the site of Coalville’s former Snibston Colliery. The museum offered a place to enjoy, celebrate and most importantly learn from the history which has made Coalville, and Britain, what is today.

Coincidentally (two decades into the areas post-industrial regeneration), as I embarked on this project, Leicestershire County Council announced that it was facing it’s ‘biggest ever financial challenge’. Following this announcement, a proposal to re-focus Snibston into ‘a museum more directly linked to the story of coal mining’, was made public. The proposed changes would mean demolishing the current museum and selling the site for redevelopment. Relocating the museums vast fashion, science, technology, engineering and local industry exhibits, before developing a small mining museum beside the nationally important colliery buildings.

In January 2015 a cabinet vote sealed the fate of the current museum along with the suggestion that the development of the new mining museum may not be possible.

Website and Tumblr.

Just Passing By is a Transform arts project commissioned by Snibston Discovery Museum with support from Leicestershire County Council and Arts Council England.