Published: 06:00, 22 August 2019
Ex miners will reunite at a day of gala style celebrations beside what was once a thriving pit.
Despite continued uncertainty over the ownership of Betteshanger Park, the Kent Miners Festival will still go ahead on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.
As planned, the annual spectacular will be held at Betteshanger Community Park, Colliers’ Way, adjacent to the social club in the village’s at Circular Road.
This year marks important anniversaries for the Kent Coalfield.
It is 50 years since the closure of Chislet Colliery in 1969, 30 years since the closure of Betteshanger Colliery in 1989, and it’s also the festival’s 10th anniversary since being started by former chairman Gary Cox who is now the event’s president.
Joint organisers Colin Varrall and Imogen Baldwin have pieced together a programme to be proud of packed with brass bands, displays and memories of those communities that were built around Kent’s four productive pits.
Mr Varrall said: “Even with the recent news that Betteshanger Country Park will be sold, Kent Miners’ Festival will again be held at Betteshanger Community Park, which is different location to the country park, but still owned and managed by Hadlow College.
“There will be marquees for exhibiting charities and community groups, a craft fair, dog show, beer tent and performances by the Kent Colliery bands, as well as heritage stands and displays.”
Must see attractions include the colliery welfare bands of Snowdown at Betteshanger, a dog show (£1b entry on the day) with several different class for all dogs, a craft and produce stalls, health and wellbeing stalls, and a children’s activities area with face painting, games, and painting area allowing children to create a colliery banner and paper miners helmets and lamps.
The festival follows the traditional style of Mining Galas, the most popular of which is in Durham every July.
In the past 10 years, it has moved around the coalfield. The festival was held for two years at Aylesham (2011 and 2012), then two years at Elvington (2013 and 2014) before returning to Betteshanger for the remaining years.
The 2019 Kent Miners Festival is from 10am until 5pm Betteshanger Park, Colliers’ Way, Betteshanger. Admission is free.
A free shuttle bus is laid on by the festival organisers.
Mr Varrall added that people intending to return on the last bus should pre-book this with the steward when arriving at the festival.