I was born in 1990, as coal mining came to an end in NW Leicestershire. I grew up in the village of Donisthorpe, on the NW Leicestershire / South Derbyshire border. My childhood home sat directly opposite what was, for over a century, the entrance to Donisthorpe Colliery, the beating heart of my former mining village.
I knew nothing of the industry that shaped the social, economic and geographic landscape of where I grew-up. Instead I knew a huge field, with really tall grass, tall enough for me to lose myself in my imagination on a daily basis.
One day, as I was playing in that field, I fell over a brick that had the number 1919 carved into it. I remember finding this discovery very exciting, but it soon became nothing more than a character in the scene I was playing that day.
It took the role of a bomb if I remember correctly, quite likely as an unexploded bomb had been discovered in that field some time earlier and me and my grandma were evacuated to the community centre. But as the curtain fell on my insignificant scene, and my Mum called me in for tea, the stone was as good as forgotten.
More than a decade later (2011), now an aspiring photographer, I received a bursary from the Transform Arts Programme at Snibston Discovery Museum. This offered me creative support, a little money and the task of proposing a piece of work in response to Snibston.
I wanted to develop my growing interest in documentary photography, and at this moment I became aware of the post-industrial change that had been occurring around me since the day I was born.
I returned to the village in which a grew up and found myself in a house just around the corner from my childhood home - the home of former Donisthorpe Colliery employee, Johnny Hair.
Johnny told me a lot that day, but the thing that will always stand out for me is his story about the day the demolition began at Donisthorpe Colliery:
He, somehow, got onto the site and whilst walking around saw a stone above a door, a stone with the number 1919 carved into it. He asked if they could leave that stone behind for him, and they did.
Just before the turn of the millennium the field was purchased for redevelopment, but before the builders moved in, Johnny did. He went to where that brick had lay for the best part of a decade and carried it to what was the main entrance to Donisthorpe Colliery, the beating heart of my former mining village.
The moving finger writes,
and having written moves on.
Nor all thy pity nor all they wit,
can cancel half a line of it
- Omar Khayyam