Young people don’t know they’re born
I used to hate these words. It was as if I had committed some kind of horrible deed by being alive in a time of prosperity. There was always a menace behind the accusation that the youth of the day didn’t fully appreciate the benefits that had been gained.
But what about what has been lost too? I’m sometimes a contrary soul and have found myself thinking about this recently. The times around me seem to point to this too – more than ever we bemoan the fact that we don’t make enough anymore and that our economy needs to change.
I was also saddened in last year’s riots when people targeted Apple, Blackberry and JJB Sports stores. Even when you consider these acts as criminal behaviour, the products for all their benefits still aren’t really life changing commodities surely?
Step into the fray then Mansfield Museum of all places. Starting last weekend, a new exhibition has opened looking at the changes in Nottinghamshire following the closure of mines and the re-use of former coalfield sites.
This is a part of our heritage that for many remains in living memory. Whilst for some the miner’s strike remains an emotive event, I have very strong memories of the broader community engagement that the pits delivered.
Quite often, I was taken to several Miners’ Welfares where I would be able to play cricket and the grounds were maintained and supported by the coal authority. I also find Clipstone a rather hidden heritage gem, with the headstocks still visible and the First to Fourth Avenues built directly across so that workers would just need to cross the road for their daily commute.
It was a lifestyle and landscape that inspired the realism of DH Lawrence who still found affection among the slag heaps and black bricked pit houses. A wander around the Teversal Trail will easily demonstrate why.
Converted country parks play a pivotal theme in Mansfield Museum’s exhibition and visits to Newstead and Annesley Country Park, Vicar Water or Bestwood Country Park are highly recommended. At Bestwood you have the chance to take a tour of the Winding Engine House on Saturday mornings between Easter and October.
We certainly can’t cling to the old days and progress is not just inevitable but something we all actively encourage. Yet our mining heritage in Nottinghamshire is a pivotal part of our unique culture and landscape. And this heritage is an active part of our present and will prove a defining element for future visitors.
2012 is the 200th anniversary of the Luddites, textile workers who destroyed new machinery in protest against the changing nature of production and the threats to their way of life. In times of great change, looking back as well as looking forward is a rather healthy thing to do.
Ch Ch Ch Changes runs at Mansfield Museum until 14 April 2012.