I had the great pleasure of visiting Woodhorn a couple of weeks ago. It’s an award winning, beautifully preserved colliery that closed in 1981 and is now a great visitor centre for the area. Get here on the A189 Coastal Route that cuts through beautiful Northumberland, only 25 minutes’ drive from Newcastle, and experience what life was like for the mining communities that used to flourish in these parts before Thatcher came along with her Greed is Good philosophy of life and smashed them all to pieces.
There are fantastic events for all the family throughout the year, such as the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic in June, complete with Morris dancing, a traditional brass band and loads of fun and games. It gives some idea of the strong community spirit that now seems a thing of the past. Hard work, family responsibility, thrift, simple pleasures, respect and unbending pride made this old mining community what it was. It’s arguable that they made England what it once was, too, despite the superficial layers of ‘upper class’ freeloaders who have for centuries been living off the backs of people like the miners round here who did all the work.
As Clement Attlee put it in 1953, quoted in one of these photos from the fascinating exhibition at Woodhorn: “The things we fought for in the past may be lost again unless we are prepared to fight for them.”