Working Class Movement Library

A blog from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford

Posts Tagged ‘Salford’

The Last Pit in the Valley

Posted by wcmlibrary on August 2, 2013

During the Miners’ Strike in 1984-85, Library founders Ruth and Eddie Frow used to stand in Stretford Precinct to collect for striking miners. They would have been pleased to see over two hundred people gathered on Saturday 27 July at the site of the former Agecroft colliery to unveil a monument to the men, women and children who worked and died at the colliery over its 128-year history.

agecroft launch

Picture of the 27 July launch, courtesy of Salford Star

For the last 20 years, former miner Paul Kelly has been placing flowers at the entrance to the  colliery in Salford.

“I did it as a memorial to those people who worked and died in the pit. In 1990 the pit closed and was replaced by an industrial centre and 128 years of coalmining history was wiped out.”

Kelly hasn’t just left flowers. Together with other local people he has been involved in a project to remind other generations, including local children, about the importance that coal once played in their history and can have in their future.

Kelly is chairman of the Irwell Valley Mining Project, which is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It was one of the first groups in the country to receive funding for the All Our Stories project.

For a small community project, it is undertaking a vast amount of work. As well as the memorial at the site of Agecroft colliery, there will be a book, a film, a leaflet, an exhibition, a website and an educational pack.

Central to the project is a book written by Kelly called The Last Pit In The Valley, which is semi-autobiographical as it tells the story of several generations of his family and their lives working in the mining industry.

“It is about commemorating our lives but is also an introduction to the coalmining industry with a map showing the location of pits. It will also show how it was a political decision to wipe out the industry.”

Former teacher Alice Searle, who is the secretary of the project, emphasises how important it has been to get local children involved in the work.

“Children do not know the history of this industry and the importance it played in the community. We have got a local school, St Augustine’s, involved in helping make tiles for the monument and the students from Salford College have built the monument.”

Local children planted flowers on the monument bringing together past and present generations of the community in a poignant reminder of their collective past.

Members of the project have been going out collecting interviews from ex-miners and have uncovered unpublished photographs of Agecroft colliery to use in the exhibition. At the unveiling ceremony, editor of the Salford Star, Stephen Kingston was recording ex-miners who had turned up to be part of the ceremony.

Together with the priest at St Augustine’s church, which was called “The Miners’ Cathedral”, they have sought to remind people of a mining disaster in 1885 when 178 men and boys were killed in a local pit and were buried in unmarked graves in the churchyard.

The exhibition will be launched in the church on 27 September as a commemoration of the dead and a reminder of the price paid by working class people in the mining of coal.

Kelly has been going out filming the sites of long-gone pits in order to produce a visual history of where the pits were and what has happened to the sites.

The films have been uploaded to YouTube to allow people to track the development of the project.

Searle and Kelly met when they were both involved with the Stop the War Campaign and their project has a political edge, as Kelly comments: “Coal is important. We don’t need to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for resources. It’s all there under out feet. Young local men should not have to put on a uniform and fight for fuel when they could be working down the pits and producing our own energy.”

Bernadette Hyland

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Invisible Histories update

Posted by wcmlibrary on March 26, 2013

We’re at an exciting point in the Invisible Histories project (I say that, but pretty much every day on the project is exciting and fun!). We’ve completed twenty interviews with people who used to work at our three former workplaces:

  • Agecroft Colliery
  • Ward & Goldstone’s factory
  • Richard Haworth’s mill

While we’re still happy to have more people come in and be recorded, we’re also moving into a new stage of the project. Some of the wonderful volunteer team are listening through all the interviews, selecting the extracts that appeal to them, whether as a good piece of social history or description of workplace conditions, or where there are special memories of workplace friends or practical jokes at work. Some of our volunteers have braved the basics of audio editing, discovering that it’s not actually scary (and not really much more complicated than copying and pasting in Word!).

We’ll soon begin choosing which interviews we are going to fully or partly transcribe too, so plenty of work for the team to get their teeth into.

Meanwhile, we’re beginning our collaboration with Buile Hill Visual Arts College ( which will see a group of Year 9 students work with a creative practitioner, a musician and us to create a podcast inspired by Ewan McColl’s 1950s Radio Ballads ( The students will be using the interviews, and especially the selected extracts, as original historical source material to help them understand the work and social situation in Salford and how it’s changed, as well as creating music and song to link themed extracts together. The students will also be helping the volunteers and me with what goes in the end-of-project exhibition.

We’re currently advertising for the freelancers to support this part of the project. Follow these links to find out more (and pass them on to anyone you think will be interested):

Creative Practitioner –

Musician –


Neil Dymond-Green, Project Learning Coordinator, Invisible Histories Project

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Two things of beauty to cheer you on a cold day

Posted by wcmlibrary on January 15, 2013

Cover to 'The Seed She Sowed' by Emma Leslie

Before I put it back on the shelf, I thought I should share the lovely cover of a book which has just been used by a reader who’s researching dock strikes, the background setting to this novel.

And here is the Library’s camellia in all its amazing January glory:_IGP3810










Come and admire our plants and read our books. We’ve just had the 16 out of our 70 radiators which weren’t working fixed (thanks Salford Council!) so it’s warm here too…


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Invisible Histories – it’s all coming along!

Posted by wcmlibrary on December 4, 2012

My name’s Neil Dymond-Green and I’ve taken on the role of co-ordinating the Invisible Histories project from Carrie Gough (who has done an excellent job in setting up the project and who we all wish well for her new job in Wigan).

This is my third week and I feel like my feet have hardly touched the ground – in a good way, of course!

haworths 28We’ve had three interviews in the last two weeks with people. We’ve been lucky enough to have one interviewee from each of the former workplaces which are at the core of our project: Agecroft Colliery, Ward and Goldstone Ltd and Richard ‘Dickie’ Haworth’s Mill.

We’ve heard some really interesting memories and anecdotes from our interviewees and we’re sure we’ll hear many more as our brilliant team of volunteers continue to interview other former employees of these workplaces. And we’re still looking for people to be interviewed, so if you used to work at one of these workplaces (or know someone who did), please do get in touch: neil.dymond-green @ or 0161 736 3601.miner 1970

In addition to getting to grips with the project and finding out about all the resources we have in the library, I’m also heading across the road this week to plunder the treasure trove which is the Local History Library. I’ve also been fortunate enough to take part in a condensed version of the Oral History training which our volunteers have done, which certainly got me thinking.

Ward and Goldstone Ltd, Frederick Rd

Ward and Goldstone Ltd, Frederick Rd

In the next few weeks, I will also be meeting up with the school we’ve enlisted to help us with the ‘Radio Ballads’-style podcast we will be making as a later part of this project. It will be really interesting to see how we can involve local young people in learning about the important industrial past of Salford. I’m also really looking forward to see how their creativity will come to life when creating music for the podcast.

All images courtesy of Salford Local History Library

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Invisible Histories Project is Underway!

Posted by wcmlibrary on August 23, 2012

ImageIt is only my 5th day as new team member at the WCML and I’ve had a lot to take in!  I’m fantastically excited about this project and it has real potential to be the beginning of something wonderful for the Library and for the community.  For those who are not yet aware we are now working on our Invisible Histories – Salford’s Working Lives Project which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  There is a brief intro on our website:

I have a background in oral history projects but more importantly I love capturing memories and snippets of information that might otherwise go unheard or undocumented.  So-called ‘ordinary’ working lives are more often than not really quite extraordinary.  This project will be recording memories and using existing collections to breathe life back into some of Salford’s lost workplaces and hopefully will make younger generations more aware of Salford’s industrial heritage.  Focusing on Richard Haworth’s Mill, Ward and Goldstone and the Agecroft Colliery we will, over the next 17 months, be creating podcasts and a touring exhibition.

We are recruiting interviewees who wish to share their memories and experiences as well as volunteer interviewers.  For those interested in becoming a volunteer please do contact me at the Library (  Oral history training through the Oral History Society will be delivered and it is hoped that this training will then lead to further projects and become an ongoing activity which the library will be able to build on in the future.

At the moment I am in the process of researching our collection to see what can be used and made more accessible as part of this project and I have had lots of help from staff and volunteers already.  I am also arranging the first round of training and compiling lists of interested volunteers and I am going to be researching the next object of the month display.  I’ll be posting regular updates on our progress so keep an eye out.


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How we’ve tried to ‘get the vote out’ to win our Museums at Night contest

Posted by wcmlibrary on February 29, 2012

Five more days in the public vote to ‘win’ photographer Simon Roberts to come to a Museums at Night event in May.  Vote here!

Library manager Lynette was asked by the Culture24 organisers to summarise what we’ve been doing to ‘get the vote out’.  Here’s what she told them:

Given I’ve been doing it alongside the day job (we don’t have a marketing/PR person) I’ve not been in a position to do anything radical. We do however have good contacts and very very loyal supporters, and they have been doing a brilliant job in getting the vote out for us.

So far we’ve had publicity here:

  • Live interview on Radio Manchester breakfast show, jointly with Manchester’s People’s History Museum. (They’re shortlisted too, in another category, and what’s been really useful is that we have been able to do reciprocal mentions of each other’s bids in e-bulletins, tweets etc.  You can vote for them here).
  • Front page of Salford Council intranet

Simon Roberts -® Francesco Niccolai


We’ve done features on Facebook, on our blog, and have featured the competition twice in our e-bulletin.

We’ve had tweets from Marketing Manchester (17,000 followers), Creative Tourist (7,000 followers), Salford City Council (5,000 followers), Archives Hub (4,000 followers), People’s History Museum (3,500 followers).  We’ve been tweeting like mad ourselves too of course…

Any further publicity anyone can offer us will be very welcome – we’re doing well in the voting, but with five days still to go there’s still time for plenty of last-minute drama!  If you haven’t already done so, please vote here.

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Open Day for students Wed 21st

Posted by wcmlibrary on September 15, 2011

Anyone just starting at the University of Salford? We’re having an Open Day for students, Wednesday 21 September, 11am to 4pm. Drop in any time to see our displays about campaigns from Peterloo to suffragettes to more recent protests. New ceramics room now open. Free refreshments. Tours on the hour

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‘Invisible Histories: Salford’s Working Lives’ launches at WCML

Posted by wcmlibrary on January 13, 2010

Today the Library launched the exhibition Invisible Histories: Salford’s Working Lives. Artist Lawrence Cassidy worked with a group of local people, discovering items from the Library that relate to Salford’s labour history.  Themes included Chartism, mining in Salford, the life of Friedrich Engels, the Battle of Bexley Square and Salford Docks.

Despite the snowy weather 40 people came along to eat cake and help celebrate the launch, including many of the people who’ve made it happen, plus Mayor of Salford Roger Lightup.  Local singer Albert Thompson made an already cheery occasion into something even more special by performing three Salford songs, two of his own plus ‘Dirty Old Town’ with an extra verse of Albert’s own devising.

It’s been brilliant to see this exhibition take shape, with people taking the trouble to keep coming along for so many weeks while it was being developed.  Many thanks are due to Lawrence for keeping the momentum going – it’s taken a lot of graft by him, alongside the creative side of producing the displays.  The exhibition is open until at lesat late summer – everyone is welcome to drop in any time Wednesdays to Fridays from 1pm to 5pm, or by appointment at other times.

Lawrence said ‘The Library has done an excellent job, retaining these archives for use by future generations. Projects of this kind connect local people to archives which directly relate to their lives’.

A series of talks on a Salford theme will take place alongside the exhibition, every second Wednesday at 2pm, starting on 27 January with ‘Salford in Love on the Dole: an illustrated guide to Walter Greenwood’s 1933 novel’.  The talks are free, and open to all.  Further details of the series of talks at

The exhibition was developed with the support of a grant from The Booth Charities.


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Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 26, 2009

Reflections from Lawrence on the final group session (Lawrence will now be working on putting together the library exhibition about Salford, based on what people from the group have found evocative/useful as they’ve explored the library holdings. The exhibition will open in January):

Open discussion, as a form of evaluation. The group were invited to reflect on the series of 14 sessions as a whole, outlining their preferences, favourite themes, talks and what subjects they thought were inportant to develop.

The role of the facilitator was mentioned, people seemed pleased that it had gone well and wanted a further programme of events and talks, which is currently being organised. The group stated that continuing to develop an informal, welcoming atmosphere at the library was a key factor in encouraging them to return. Offering tea, biscuits and allowing visitors space to conduct open ended research and discussion on personally inspired subjects relating to the library archives was important.

Caroline and Lawrence were present to take notes on what people wanted to see in the future and what they had enjoyed. This will be written up as a reflective analysis, informing further work.

In the morning, Paul viewed Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of The Battle of Orgreave. Watching the film with an ex-miner (Paul) who had been  present at the actual event was a real eye opener. He mentioned that the film was a fairly sanitised version of actual events. Listening to Paul discuss his experiences brought back memories of the depth of working class  solidarity  shown to the miners by many working class communities and how our culture is passed on and revitalised through oral testimony.  During the Wednesday sessions the library has played a key role in allowing some of these  hidden voices to be heard, which is a really important issue.

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Salford Working Lives

Posted by wcmlibrary on November 19, 2009

Bob kindly let us listen to a taped recording of his elderly mother (recorded in the late 1980s). She recounted her life through two world wars. She recollected working in various factories including Worrals in Ordsall and the Bleaching works near Adelphi. One of the interesting things to emerge from her stories was  how she walked nearly everywhere. Apparently that is what kept her fit.

We also watched a DVD of bygone Salford. One part showed Peel Park before the construction of the University and boat races on the River Irwell.

Next week is the last public session. After that Lawrence will be working one to one with individuals to construct the forthcoming exhibition at the Library.


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