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Mining Institute project explores North East role in Industrial Revolution

The legacy of the Great Northern Coalfield is the subject of a series of lectures and research projects under the heading Mining the Institute

A miner working the coal face circa 1930s
A miner working the coal face circa 1930s

The legacy of the Great Northern Coalfield is the subject of a series of lectures and research projects under the heading Mining the Institute.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it has been set up to explore the influence of the region in driving the Industrial Revolution across the globe.

It is also, as the name suggests, designed to plunder the rich seams of information in the library of the magnificent Mining Institute on Westgate Road, Newcastle.

Tonight at 7pm historian Prof Bill Lancaster, director of the Mining Institute, will give the latest in a series of free public lectures at the venue.

He will look in particular at the extraordinary exodus of people from coalmining communities during the last century when traditional heavy industry began to decline.

With almost 250,000 men working in the Great Northern Coalfield in 1913, when coalmining was at its peak, a lot of families subsequently decided to relocate in search of work.

But Bill will show how fluid the population of the North East has always been, the supposedly tight-knit region being in fact a place of comers and goers.

A project involving Newcastle schools will explore the notion that Geordies have deep roots in North East soil. “Shake the family tree and it’s surprising what will fall out,” says Bill.

He will illustrate his talk tonight with real-life stories of North East mining folk who had to travel to keep body and soul together.

The project will reach a climax in the summer with a Mining the Institute Festival.

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