Blot on the Landscape

Volunteers bring home award for unearthing mining history

Volunteers who dug deep to celebrate the extraordinary legacy of Yorkshire’s pit workers have scooped a prestigious national award.

Working with the team at Temple Newsam House, the group recently co-curated Blot on the Landscape, an exhibition exploring the fascinating history of deep shaft, drift and open cast mining on the estate.

Their creative efforts were recognised at this week’s Marsh Awards held at London’s British Museum, where they took home the sought-after Volunteers in Museum Learning award.

Working alongside assistant community curator Helen Pratt, the group helped bring together objects, images and stories gathered from local miners and their families for the exhibition.

Together, they researched the history of Temple Newsam’s pits, talking to former miners from North, South and West Yorkshire and gathering a collection of objects which encapsulated their time down the mines.

Artists from Yorkshire and Northumberland also created artworks for display and local group Swillington Elderberries crafted a traditional Yorkshire design rag rug for the exhibition.

Since Blot on the Landscape opened, volunteers have also been on hand to welcome visitors and help promote the displays in the local community.

Volunteers have agreed to work on a catalogue relating to the exhibition and a touring exhibition of mining photographs and art created by local miners is being planned.

Helen said: “It’s been a real honour to work alongside such a diligent and committed group of volunteers and we’re over the moon to see their amazing efforts recognised with this prestigious award.

“The stories they helped uncover have really captured the history of mining on the estate and the extraordinary changes the landscape of Temple Newsam has gone through over the decades.

“We’re very proud of the end result and to be paying such a fitting tribute to the legacy of those who worked down the pits.”

Huge mining operations took place at Temple Newsam as recently as the late 1970s, with other large-scale digs throughout the 1940s, when the Ministry of Fuel and Power requisitioned the land from Leeds on September 1, 1942 and again on July 21, 1945.

Extensive landscaping meant the grounds eventually recovered and few obvious signs of the mines can be seen today.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“Mining has played a very special part in the history of Leeds and Yorkshire, leaving a lasting impression on our city and its communities.

“To see the enthusiasm and dedication of those who brought this exhibition together recognised with this prestigious award is testament to both the enduring significance of our mining heritage and the unique place it has in the hearts of the people of Leeds.

“I’d like to congratulate all those involved in bringing Blot on the Landscape together as they celebrate this wonderful and thoroughly deserved accomplishment.”

Blot on the Landscape will be at Temple Newsam House until October 31.

For more details about the house and estate, visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries