Tonight I am going to the final evening of the play “The Ashes” at Nottingham Playhouse. The play has been at the Playhouse since 2nd September and a special performance was held on Tuesday 13th September which raised funds for the Belvoir Castle Cricket Trust, a charity which helps youngsters get into cricket.
The Ashes, written by Nottinghamshire writer Michael Pinchbeck, documents the life of former Nottinghamshire miner and England fast bowler, Harold Larwood, especially his role in the controversial Ashes tour on 1932-33. After suffering humiliation at the hands of Australian batsman Don Bradman in the previous Ashes test, Larwood and fellow Notts bowler Biil Voce , were central to the theory of “bodyline” bowling in the return 1932-33 test. By bowling fast and accurately on the legside and by making the ball pitch short, the ball could be made to bounce upwards towards the batsman body or head. The theory worked as England regained the Ashes with a 4-1 victory. However, several Australian batsman were injured and the bodyline technique caused such uproar that diplomatic relations between Australia and England were put under serious strain. The Australians considered the tactics unsporting and at one stage they even considered pulling out of the Ashes series.
Larwood from Nuncargate, worked at Annesley Colliery where his father and brother also worked. He is in the signing on books for the 1920′s working on the pit-top as a bank-lad. His father, Bob, was union secretary for the Spencer Union at Annesley Colliery. A statue of Larwood, in bowling stride,is proudly placed in Kirkby-in-Ashfield town centre. A plaque is erected on the door of the Larwoods former home at 17 Chapel Street, Nuncargate. Pat Jarvis, a retired train driver, now lives at the address.
Larwood controversially emigrated to Australia in 1952 dying there in 1995 at the age of 90. Alan Smith, Chief Executive of the Test and County Cricket Board at the time, described Larwood’s death as “the passing of the last central English link to a distant era of high drama”.
On Friday 9th September 2011 I took a tour on the Ashfield Heritage Bus tour arranged by Denis Hill, Heritage and Tourism Officer for Ashfield District Council. The excellently organised tour took 16 interested people around the district viewing the rich heritage that Ashfield has to offer. Sites visited included Annesley Hall, Jacksdale Wharf, Old Kirkby, Lindley’s Old Windmill at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Teversal Vistors Centre, Teveral Village and Skegby.
The tour incorporated many aspects of coalmining heritage, showing the strong cultural links the Ashfield region has with the coal industry. Included on the tour were the former collieries and coalmining villages of Annesley and Newstead, the mining memorial in Underwood Church Yard, Jacksdales mining memorial, the remains of Portland No.1 Colliery and the coal garden at Teversal .
This time a quarter of a century ago the announcement was made that Hucknall Colliery in the Nottinghamshire Coalfield was to close with the loss of 1,300 jobs. The colliery had run into geological problems on K33′s in the Black Shale seam and following a meeting of the unions concerned, it was decided production would finish at the end of October 1986.
Babbington Colliery, just to the south of Hucknall, had recently been connected up underground with Hucknall and significant monies spent on improving the coal preparation facilities at Hucknall. The plans following the merger were to run a Hucknall-Babbington Complex with all coal surfacing at Hucknall. Many miners from the Eastwood, Underwood and Jacksdale regions had transferred to Hucknall following the closures of Moorgreen and Pye Hill Collieries in 1985. Many told the story of being told to expect 20 years of work at Hucknall – they were there for around 18 months!
Village SOS – BBC1 – Sunday 4th September 2011
The former colliery village of Newstead recently featured in the BBC TV programme Village SOS. The programme featured the efforts of the local community to regenerate part of the former colliery spoil heap, or pit tip, into country park complete with an eco friendly visitors centre. The Project received a grant of £433,140 from the Big Lottery Fund in 2010. Over 500 volunteers became involved in the Project with 40 hard to reach youngsters receiving accredited training.
The pit tip where the Country park is being developed is relatively young, only emerging from around 1970 when the former site of Annesley Loco Sheds and Yards became disused. Eventually Newstead, Annesley and Linby Collieries used the site for tipping colliery waste until 1988 when Linby closed. By this time Annesley’s coal was travelling underground to Bentinck for preparation. Newstead Colliery finished in March 1987 whilst production at the nearby Annesley Colliery finished in January 2000.
The MuBu Coalmining Project took place from April 2010 to the end of March 2012. The remit was two-fold - firstly to see how the once vast coalmining industry in the East Midlands was represented in the Heritage sector and secondly to bring aspects of social media to that representation. The Coal mining project was funded by Renaissance East Midlands (REM) and the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) at the University of Nottingham. The Bursary holder is Dr. David Amos who completed a PHD on the 1984-85 Miners Strike in the Nottinghamshire Coalfield. David is an ex miner, having worked in the deep mining coal industry at Annesley Colliery for 24 years.