Ex-miners share poignant local heritage tales with students in historic Miners’ Hall

Barnsley College students were given a taste of the past and learned about the biggest mining disaster in English History from those who know it best.

The group heard about Barnsley’s mining heritage and the Oaks Colliery disaster, ahead of its anniversary on 12 December.

Paul Darlow, the author of ‘A Living History’, delivered the talk and interactive session to the students, who were from the College’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department.

Paul’s book aims to teach younger generations about Barnsley’s rich mining history, with Paul’s presentation accompanied by personal stories from fellow ex-miners Barry Moore and Peter Davies.

The session took place in the setting of the historic Miners’ Hall on Victoria Road, surrounded by mining artefacts from the 1800s. Students were given the opportunity to view and learn about the items, as well as try on old miners’ gear.

The three miners inspired the students by sharing their personal experiences, including the way in which the industry came to an end in Barnsley in the 80s and 90s. The students were fascinated to learn that the wage for a miner in 1957 was just £6 per week – roughly the equivalent of £170 today.

Over 30 different languages are spoken by the College’s ESOL students, with one student sharing their experience of growing up in a mining community in Albania, leading to a comparison of different international mining histories during the session.

Ex-miner, Paul Darlow, said: “This is Barnsley’s history. Barnsley was built on mining. Even though these mines closed years ago these are the memories of Barnsley families and it still means a lot to them so it’s important to know, and there are still strong feelings about the pits closing.”

Kirsty Farmer, Tutorial Learning Mentor for the group of ESOL students, added: “It was an honour to hear about our local mining history from ex-miners themselves in such a fitting setting.

“The students took a lot from the experience and got a real insight into Barnsley’s heritage, and even made comparisons with mining in their home countries.

“Our industry week has been full of fun activities which have allowed us to introduce the students to sessions they wouldn’t usually get to experience. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved.”

The College offers part-time and full-time ESOL courses. To learn more about how Barnsley College can support students with their English-speaking goals visit:

Prospective students can visit the College’s next Open Day on Thursday 24 November, 4.00pm – 6.00pm. Further details about the event can be found on the college website:

Sixteen to 18-year-olds not currently in education, employment, or training can still apply to study this academic year. Through a personalised timetable they could build their skills for the future – whether it’s a mix of art, engineering, digital and fashion; or construction, catering, games design, music, or anything in between.

To find out more, visit, email [email protected] or call 01226 216 123.

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