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Kent's mining history will be aired in BBC1 documentary marking closure of Betteshanger Colliery 25 years ago

By Beth Robson

The history of our mining heritage in east Kent was aired on BBC1 last night (Monday) to mark the 25th anniversary of the closure of Kent's last pit, Betteshanger Colliery.

Produced by broadcast journalist Sarah Brinicombe and narrated by John Warnett, it included interviews with ex-Betteshanger miner and historian Jimmy Davies from Cavell Square.

An unofficial wake was held for the Kent Coalfield when ex-miners kept silent vigil as the headgear at Bettshanger toppled.

Miss Brinicombe said: “Kent’s place in the coal industry may not be as well documented as that of the north, but many of its former workers remain staunchly proud of the county’s history and mining heritage.

“Here the miners tell their story, 25 years after the closure of Betteshanger colliery,the last pit in Kent.”

“Here the miners tell their story, 25 years after the closure of Betteshanger colliery,the last pit in Kent” BBC producer Sarah Brinicombe

The 30 minute documentary was called the Sunshine Corner Coalfields and is available to view on iPlayer for the next seven days.

It included a shot of an advert from the East Kent Mercury, placed by a homeowner looking for tenants. But the advert states “No Miners” will be considered.

The cutting shows a time of persecution in Deal’s history when the influx of miners with their heavy Northern or Welsh accents and coal-covered bodies were unpopular among locals. It was long before the pit baths were built, and before farming land was acquired to build the Mill Hill mining community.

Jimmy Davies said: “We have covered the whole history of the Kent Coalfield right from the inception to the early settlers and to the closure of Betteshanger.”

Filming was mainly done at the White House Heritage Centre in Aylesham.

Betteshanger miner and historian Jimmy Davies has helped the BBC research tonight's documentary The Sunshine Corner Coalfields which airs on BBC1 at 7.30pm.

Cameras were also rolling in the village’s Rattling Club in March, on the anniversary of the start of the year-long NUM strike between 1984 and 1985.

Mr Davies said he is pleased the documentary has been put together because it has brought others out who were prominent miners - some of whom have been low profile in recent years.

Jimmy Davies has compiled mounds of mining artefacts including memorabilia and photographs which will be exhibited at he visitor centre at the new multi-million pound Hadlow College development at Fowlmead.

Many of the pictures can be seen on the Mill Hill and Betteshanger page on Facebook.

• The BBC documentary the Sunshine Corner Coalfields can be viewed on iPlayer for the next seven days.

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