Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear
We introduced Chris and his new project in a previous blog post and it's now time for us to showcase the second video in the series. Chris has written another piece for the post this week which gives some more context to the work.
Because of something that you've started Coalville Photographed video via YouTube.
The exploitation of the famous ‘black diamond’ was central to the economy and communities of Coalville and its surrounding parts of Leicestershire for centuries. Not only did the coalfield play a significant role in the history of British mining, but the communities that were built in and around it have shaped both the local landscape and the heritage of the people who live and work here today. Every aspect of the areas cultural identity was centred around the pits, so with the infamous demise of the coal mining industry, in the 80's and 90's, came a long period of unsettledness and uncertainty for this young and small mining town.
In a positive move, soon after the last coal mine was closed, Leicestershire County Council unveiled Snibston Discovery Museum. Situated on the site of Coalville’s former Snibston Colliery, the museum offered both a hub for the community and a national attraction. A place to enjoy and celebrate, but most importantly, to learn from the history which has made Coalville, and its near and far surroundings, what it is today. Less than a decade after the loss of the industry that both gave birth and supported the town through thick and thin, peace and war, a significant element of it was reborn. Offering a glimpse into the future through the regeneration of its old and trusty heart.
Coincidentally, as I was commissioned by Snibston to produce my project Just Passing By (2014), and as I began to work with Graham on Coalville Photographed. Leicestershire County Council publicly announced that they are facing their ‘biggest ever financial challenge’. Soon after this announcement there came a public proposal to refocus Snibston Discovery Museum into a smaller museum ‘more directly linked to the story of coal mining’. This would include demolishing the current museum and selling the land for redevelopment.
Earlier this year, after several prolonged and passionate protests and legal challenges by the local community, Snibston Discovery Museum was demolished along with the County Councils public acknowledgement that the smaller museum, ‘more directly linked to the story of coal mining’, was unachievable.
To find out more about Chris and his series Just Passing By, see our feature with him here.