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Last Men Standing

Last men standing

Former DAMHA board member Steve Fergus found himself part of a photography exhibition, and subsequent book, Last Men Standing, which has recorded some of the last surviving former miners at three coalfields.

Former miner Steve was among 15 men from the former pit communities of Easington, Horden and Blackhall who were profiled for the exhibition, which was staged at Easington Social Welfare Centre.

The exhibition, and now book, came from a community project undertaken as part of his MA by North East photographer and gallery owner Russell Smith.

Initially Russell planned to enlist ten men from each village, film them, take their portrait, and make a documentary. But many former miners had already died, and some were reticent about taking part.

However, with the help of Steve, who volunteers at the Easington Social Welfare Centre, he was able to speak to five former miners from each area.

This led to the exhibition which included photographs of the miners when they were younger and as they are now, as well as multimedia elements, including audio snippets, interviews, and personal narratives.

Russell has now also published a book called Last Men Standing.

Steve says: “We were asked 40 questions ranging from what sort of education we had, what we did at the Pit and what we do now.

“It was great to be part of it and it was very fitting to hold the exhibition at the welfare hall. It generated a lot of interest.”

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