I was commissioned by Junction Arts to work on Banner and Banter. This was a Heritage Lottery Funded project as part of a major regeneration of New Bolsover Model Village, 190 houses built on Model Village lines in the 1890s to house workers from the Bolsover Colliery. Since the closure of the pit in the 1990s the houses have been looked after by Bolsover District Council. The houses are currently being majorly refurbished with new rooves, windows, kitchens and bathrooms.
My project was to work with local residents who belong to the Heritage Craft Group to make a banner to mark this major landmark in the ‘Model’s’ history. The inspirational starting point was the original National Union of Mineworkers banner that was made in the 1950s and now hangs in St Mary and St Laurence Church.
There isn’t much of a provenance for this banner; we don’t know who it was made by but there were a number of companies that you could order banners from, selecting imagery from their catalogues or commissioning specific scenes. They employed sign writers and backdrop painters who would work on their specific parts of the banner. The quality of the painting on the Bolsover banner shows real skill. Union banners were often double sided; the front to signify the union branch and the back often to signify the benefits of belonging to a union. In the case of the Bolsover banner the front shows a Cavalier and a Miner shaking hands with the Castle and the Colliery in the background.
This photo by John Harris shows the banner being used in the miner's strike of 1984-5.
We borrowed these replica banners from the Nottinghamshire Coalfields Banners Trust so we could have a good look at a range of other mining banners. Thanks to Joan and John for lending them to us.