In 1882, the Staveley Coal and Iron Company sunk the first shaft of Markham Colliery. Although Markham was known as a safe pit, there were two catastrophic explosions in the 1930s. In 1967, after nationalisation, Markham 1, 2, and 4 were merged into one Colliery. In 1973, 18 miners died in a cage accident. The colliery was divided during the 1984–5 miners’ strike: while some miners remained out, many others returned to work. Markham closed in June 1993, ending mining in Derbyshire.
Could You Go on Holiday for £179 a Week?
The Derbyshire miners owned a holiday camp in Skegness, and whole streets would take a week’s holiday together. The holiday camp had dances, games competitions, magic shows, bingo, swimming pools, bowls, a movie theatre and an amusement arcade. Children slept in a dormitory and parents could leave their details and enjoy their evening. In 1970, a week’s holiday, including travel, cost £11/10/0 a week for adults and between £2/15/0 and £6/15/0 for children. That’s only £179 and £43 to £105 in today’s money!
An application form for the Derbyshire Miners’ Welfare Holiday Centre, 1959 (Derbyshire Record Office, D1920-4-1-11), Transcript
Becoming a Man
For boys who had grown up in a mining village, starting work at a mine once they left school was an introduction to a new world. There were formal and informal ways that boys were inducted into this new world.
John Carrington was called Jack, when he started work, because his father, who already worked at Markham, was called John. He signed the document below when he started work.
John (Jack) Carrington's contract of employment, (John Carrington personal collection, Crown Copyright, digitised for this project under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence) Transcript
Glynn Power also experienced a name change when he started work, as he had longer hair. Glynn Power and David Watson describe some of the shocks of starting work alongside older men.
Interview with Grace Millar, 11 March 2018, Transcript
Interview with Grace Millar, 22 November 2018, Transcript
1972 and 1974
In 1972 and 1974, miners went on strike for higher wages. The strikes led to power cuts, which even people who were quite young at the time have remembered. The image below is a page from a Markham miner’s diary the day the 1972 strike started. He talks about how to get strike pay and social security, and expresses frustration that it has come to this. We have digitised his diary in full.
George Carrington's Diary (John Carrington's Personal Collection, digitised for this project under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence)
Sports and Social Clubs
Colliery-based sports and social clubs organised a whole range of activities for miners and mining communities.
This list of comes from the Markham Newsletter, March 1989.
'Markham Forward', March 1989, p. 2, (Arthur May personal collection, Crown Copyright, digitised for this project under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence). Transcript