Mining Heritage Events in Wakefield in March

Find out more about one of the district's most enduring legacies

Eleanor Taylor, Experience Wakefield

History lovers, take note: throughout the coming month, look out for mining heritage events all across Wakefield.

Although we have a history stretching back to the iron age, Wakefield’s recent heritage has been dominated by the coal industry. Mining is integral to the fabric of our district; it has shaped the very landscape around us, with many of our country parks having been transformed from former coal faces, and has gifted us a district full of fascinating stories from the men and women who were, and remain, connected to the mines.

March 2024 marks 40 years since the start of the 1984/1985 Miners’ Strike, a pivotal moment in mining history, and as such the district is hosting events and exhibitions reflecting on the Strike itself, and its enduring legacy. These are our top picks for heritage lovers wanting to find out more.

(c) Ken Wilkinson


84/85 – The Longest Year is a yearlong exhibition and programme of events, held at the National Coal Mining Museum. Opening on 6 March 2024, it runs until 3 March 2025 – the same length of time as the real Miners’ Strike. This exhibition considers the strike through memories and stories of miners and their families. Uniquely positioned at a former working colliery, the Museum will be addressing the broader picture of the strike and giving a voice to those who experienced it.

📍 Wakefield, WF4 4RH
📅 Wednesday 6 March 2024 – Monday 3 March 2025
🎟 Free, no booking required
🔗 Click here for more information.

Were Not Going Back


75 Mines. 3 Sisters. 1 Cause (And a six-pack of Babycham). Red Ladder Theatre Company presents We’re Not Going Back, a hard-hitting musical comedy about the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike. The performance, taking place at The Grove Hall in South Kirkby, follows the fortunes of three sisters determined to set up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures. We’re Not Going Back tackles the resilience of working communities, the make-and-mend fabric of family and the power of sticking two fingers up to a government hell-bent on destruction.

📍 South Kirkby, WF9 3QF
📅 Saturday 9 March
🎟 £5, book here
🔗 Click here for more information.

Robert Gildea Author Visit


Historian Robert Gildea will be visiting South Elmsall Library to talk about his new book Backbone of the Nation. He will be discussing the experience of mining communities such as South Elmsall during the Strike. His book is a powerful new history of the Strike in the miners’ own voices, based on more than 140 interviews with former miners and their families.

📍 South Elmsall, WF9 2AA
📅 Tuesday 19 March
🎟 Free, book here
🔗 Click here for more information.


South Elmsall Library are hosting Coal Not Dole, a retrospective display put together by local artist David Gardham. It includes his works from 1984-2005, capturing his ongoing response to the famous strike and the subsequent closure of pits in the SESKU area (South Elmsall, South Kirby and Upton).

Alongside the exhibition, the library are holding a special coffee morning on 23 March, allowing people to come and share memories and reminisce with others who also lived through the strike.

📍 South Elmsall, WF9 2AA
📅 Monday 4 March – Saturday 13 April 2024
🎟 Free, no booking required
🔗 Click here for more information.

Backbone of the Nation


“Backbone of the Nation” is a collective name attributed to the huge contribution the miners gave to Britain’s industry. This exhibition, hosted at Queen’s Mill, Castleford, will include audio recollections of the people who lived through the strike and a commemorative booklet will be available free of charge. The exhibition will include detailed information boards alongside artefacts and mining related artwork by locally acclaimed artists, Harry Malkin, Dave Wilders and Tony Wade.

📍 Castleford, WF10 1JL
📅  Friday 1 March – Sunday 31 March 2024
🎟 Free, no booking required
🔗 Click here for more information.


Joining Ranks, part of Castleford Museum‘s Community Cases, pays tribute to the women who rallied together during the Miners’ Strike. Discover how they protected communities and often changed their lives in the process.  The display features key objects such as the hard-hitting ‘A-Z of a Miner’s Wife’ poster sold in aid of the Normanton and Altofts Miners’ Support group, which is kindly lent by the National Coal Mining Museum. It sits alongside a banner, handmade for two of Fryston’s flying picketers by their sister, and proudly adorned with Women Against Pit Closures stickers.

In addition, this March is “Mining March” at Wakefield Museums and Castles, shining a lamp on the district’s mining heritage with events including special Family Fun craft sessions at Castleford, Pontefract and Wakefield Museums.

📍 Castleford, WF10 1JL
📅  Now until 29 June
🎟 Free, no booking required
🔗 Click here for more information.

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