On Saturday 7th March our guest speaker was Anne Bradley. She is the Curator for Social and Moral History at the National Mining Museum near Wakefield. Anne reminded us that the Museum has many records in its archives that are accessible for researchers. Many of these records include the history of the Museum, where a shaft was sunk in the 18th century up to the closure of the pit in 1985. The pit was then modified in order to create a museum in 1988. In 1995 it obtained National status which reflects the history of coal mining in England.
Pit banners have a long history and one firm, George Tutill of London, manufactured them for almost two hundred years. The firm provided more than three quarters of the total output for England.
The banners were created for individual pits or coalfields. They represented the solidarity and pride felt by miners. They were displayed on Gala days when marches were organised annually and accompanied by brass bands. They might be used at rallies, strikes or during times for celebration. At first, they were made by hand then in the late 19th century, they were manufactured in factories. They were often illustrated with figures or symbols that reflected the spirit of the miners and of the trade union movement that was developing at the same time. An example shown was for the Rothwell miners which had a miner holding a bundle of sticks which was a symbol of solidarity and strength. Others portrayed justice, friendship and shared help. A recent banner for the Durham coalfield portrayed a group of figures one of whom was the politician Tony Benn.
The banners were colourful and a source of great pride for those who handled them. On marches they could also be difficult to handle if the weather was windy or wet.
Anne, who was a very interesting and enthusiastic speaker, reminded us that there are a number of banners on that the public can see at the Museum along with many other exhibits in a new and refurbished display.
On Saturday 7th December members and visitors were treated to Christmas cake, cheese, mince pies and a hot drink. A surprise was being greeted by a medley of tunes from the Crofton Silver Band. We knew that Roger Hine, chairman and concert secretary, would be there to tell us about the history and progress made by the band since 1873 but the presence of the band was an extra delight. Its first recording was made in 1895 while fully decked out in uniform with John Stead as its first conductor.
Roger then informed us of how by the 1930s the band practiced at the Royal Oak pub, which is still there opposite Crofton Academy.
It disbanded from 1939 to 1945 because of the war. However it was discovered that on starting up again a number of instruments were either missing or damaged. The National Coal Board helped by starting to sponsor the band and by 1955 was renamed the Nostell Priory Colliery Band.
When the pit closed in 1993 the band was renamed the Crofton Silver Band.
An exchange arrangement was created with a German band from Hagen in the Ruhr valley in 1971. Roger would take a break from his talk while the band played a number of carols and Christmas songs in which we were all invited to sing along.
A feature of the composition of the band over the years, was that often members would often come from the same family. This would mean that a father and his son could be playing or siblings from the same family. Some had a fifty-year family link with the band.
Venues varied from local working men’s clubs to the Great Yorkshire Show and from Crofton High to the park bandstand in Filey
The band also entered a number of contests, often winning prizes at a Yorkshire regional level to National ones.
The talk and music provided, proved highly enjoyable, and members had a chance to look at a display of photos and books that covered the band’s history with a variety of photos and books.
The next meeting will be February 1st when John Rumsby will provide a talk called ‘Yours for Eternity.’