COAL MINERS LEISURE ACTIVITIES

 

Everyone knows that the Cannock Chase Miners very much in common with all other coalfields knew how to relax after a hard days work in the pits.Most Villages, Townships and many Collieries had their football and cricket teams, the local hostelries had their darts and cribbage teams.In addition the workingmenís clubs had their bowls and snooker teams.

 

But just occasionally the unusual pursuit could be found.For instances when you think of the art of calligraphy a miner would not figure at the top of the list, yet my grandmotherís brother John Yarnall of Bloxwich did just this.In the year 1885 at the age 21 he produced an extremely elegant example of the art using ordinary pen and ink.Within a circle the size of a silver three penny bit (16mm in diameter) he wrote the Lordís Prayer; a Benediction; the 117th Psalm and a Collect. The writing is made up of 29 lines of very fine script and although now badly faded some words can still be seen with the aid of a magnifying glass.I believe that at the time John produced four copies of his work, many years ago I learnt that his son William then an old man had another copy, my copy was of course passed down from Johnís sister Sarah my grandmother.Somewhere in the Bloxwich area there may reside other copies.

 

  not to scale

John would have produced this work after a full shift underground some of the work probably produced in the light of a candle.John Yarnall worked for 60 years as a miner at the local pits, in 1893 his father also John died from the result of an accident underground.Such leisure pursuits contrast with a hard life down the pit.

 

 

A further example of mineworkers many talents can be seen below, my father Walter Edwards a coalface worker produced this painting in 1922 at the age of 22.He was at the time a newly married man with a 1-year-old daughter, and with the problems in the mining industry following the 1921 strike, was along with many other miners on short time.He spent the whole of his working life in the Cannock Chase pits totalling up 51 years service to the coal industry.

 

Ken Edwards, July 2006