Mansfield’s new MP has stepped up his efforts to help the town create its own mining museum.
Ben Bradley, who sensationally unseated long-standing predecessor Sir Alan Meale at the General Election, persuaded a government junior minister to hold talks with him about the museum.
And the Conservative MP is also planning to liaise over the next few weeks with the Nottinghamshire NUM Ex and Retired and Miners Association, which is the main driving force behind the project.
“I am fully supportive of any proposals, like this one, that would help boost tourism and celebrate our heritage,” said Mr Bradley. “I also believe a mining museum for Mansfield would boost education locally too.”
The junior minister Mr Bradley met was John Glen, who is Parliamentary under-secretary for arts, heritage and tourism within the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He also discussed the viability of a mining museum with civil servants.
“I am pleased the minister agreed to meet me,” he said. “Mr Glen laid out a number of avenues where the NUM group can get one-to-one support in putting proposals together to find funding. I now look forward to sitting down with the ex and retired miners’ group over the summer to discuss this further and, of course, to helping with any project that will boost our community in the future.”
So committed is Mr Bradley to the idea of a mining museum that he referred to the proposals in his maiden speech in the House Of Commons soon after the election.
The NUM association, which is based in Mansfield, is looking to raise £250,000 to buy a building capable of housing the museum. They have also appealed for, and collected, suitable artefacts for the museum, and have set up partnerships with local organisations.
The group wants the museum to reflect how the Nottinghamshire coalfield was once one of the most successful in Europe. At its peak, it had 42 collieries and 40,000 miners. But its 750-year history was brought to an end with the closure of Thoresby Colliery in July 2015.
There remains an appetite throughout the country, though, to preserve the coal industry’s heritage, and the Mansfield plans include a unique selling point, which is a virtual-reality experience, showing visitors what life was really like working down a pit.