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Former Kent miners and families invited to a reunion at Deal Welfare Club

By Beth Robson

Memories of countless shifts down Kent's pits will be shared at a miners' reunion tomorrow.

And stories of comrades no longer living, sporting achievements and life in the specially carved communities will also brighten up the event at Deal Welfare Club.

Ron Kempshall, of the club in Cowdray Square, said: "Come along and meet old comrades and friends.

Fresh out of the pit, these bygone miners line up for a photo
Fresh out of the pit, these bygone miners line up for a photo

"Bring the family. Everyone is welcome, especially families of miners who have gone before us."

The Kent Coalfield was established after the discovery of coal at Shakespeare Cliff in February 1890 and estates in Eythorne, Aylesham, Hersden and Betteshanger were later created to house miners who had migrated with their families to Kent to work at the four productive collieries of Tilmanstone (1906), Snowdown (1908), Chislet (1914) and Betteshanger (1924).

Betteshanger colliery pit head
Betteshanger colliery pit head

They came from all corners of the country including Wales and Scotland and brought with them their sporting passions and hobbies such as rugby, pigeon racing brass instruments and choir singing.

Charlie Sheavills organised the picket lines in Kent and Essex during the 1984-85 miners strike. Picture courtesy of the Sheavills family
Charlie Sheavills organised the picket lines in Kent and Essex during the 1984-85 miners strike. Picture courtesy of the Sheavills family

When the Kent Coalfield closed, with Betteshanger being the last pit to go in 1989, miners were faced with finding a new means to live and undertook many new occupations.

Tomorrow's reunion will bring them and their families together under one roof.

Doors to the free event open at 7pm where there will be live music. Food will be available.

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