Leeds & West Yorkshire

Artist Michael Milner's Yorkshire mining memories

  • Glasshoughton Colliery silhouette


    Back in 1869 the Merefield Colliery was sunk, later becoming the Glasshoughton Colliery which Milner grew up in the shadow of and went on to paint.

  • Glasshoughton pit buildings


    Many of the paintings show family life alongside pits like Glasshoughton, which ceased working towards the end of 1980s.

  • End of shift


    at Prince of Wales Colliery, Pontefract

    Milner said: 'As a lad from a poor background I decided to concentrate most of my artwork on the harsh environment of the miner, to preserve our heritage, now long gone.'

  • All Mod Cons


    by Michael Milner

    Milner's paintings depict everyday life in a mining community, such as wash day in the back yard of Glasshoughton pit houses.

  • Ledston Luck Colliery


    North Yorkshire

    Ledston Luck pit was sunk in the 1870s and later formed part of a “superpit” of interlinked workings around Selby.

  • Hunslet-built Austerity


    at Prince of Wales Colliery

    Between 1948 and 1964, 77 new 'Austerity' locomotives were built for the National Coal Board. They were needed at pits for shunting and some remained in use until the early 1980s.

Growing up, the towers and trains of Yorkshire's coal mines were a constant backdrop for the young Michael Milner.

Born in 1942, the painter spent his childhood in a West Yorkshire mining village near Glasshoughton Colliery and the hustle and bustle of daily life at the pits would go on to shape his working life.

First that was as a mining engineer, a job he held at the National Coal Board for 18 years.

It was only after that he would go on to teach art to male and female prisoners at a local jail.

Inevitably, the subject he turned his brush to was life in the shadow of the pit, from soot-covered miners heading home to trains pulling trucks of coal down the tracks.

Now those memories are being shared with the public in a new exhibition at the National Coal Mining Museum from 2 February.

Image copyright Michael Milner
Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Allerton Bywater Colliery, Whitwood Colliery, Prince of Wales Colliery and Wheldale Colliery

A "memory soundscape", composed by Dr John Bonner from the University of Huddersfield, is being played at the exhibition to accompany the artworks.

The exhibition features paintings of Milner's personal memories, placing the pit at the centre of home life alongside quotes from his childhood.

Image copyright National Coalmining Museum
Image caption A handmade rag rug is also part of the exhibition

"All this nostalgia now means a lot to me and I try to keep the memory of the hard pit life alive," he said.

"So as a lad from a poor background I decided to concentrate most for my art work on the harsh environment of the miner, to preserve our heritage, now long gone."

Image copyright Michael Milner
Image caption Fryston Colliery in West Yorkshire opened in 1870 and closed in 1985
Image copyright Michael Milner
Image caption The paintings reference Michael Milner's memories of growing up near the colliery

The National Coal Mining Museum for England opened at Caphouse Colliery in Wakefield in 1988 after its coal supply was exhausted.

Shafts to work coal at the site date from at least 1789.

Image copyright Yvette Vanson
Image caption A separate exhibition by artist Yvette Vanson will run at the museum until 26 April, to mark 30 years since the end of the miners' strike

The Pit at the End of the Road will run until 31 May.

It is one of a number of exhibitions at the museum. Artist Yvette Vanson is currently showing a tribute to the 30th anniversary of the great miners' strike of 1984-5.

Vanson was one of the first women to go down Betteshanger Colliery in Kent in 1972. Her exhibition runs until 26 April.

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