#FactFriday: Volunteer Edition!

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Join our volunteers Pam and Kate to discover why people wanted to get a picture of a Pit Brow Lass, as well as some of George Stephenson's surprising early inventions!

Meet Pam!

As a volunteer I work with the learning team at the museum. I spend most of my time researching details about various mining topics and then helping to develop the topic into a pop-up activity, to be run by myself and other volunteers, which we hope visitors will enjoy (while learning a bit more about mining).

My dad, his brothers and my grandad and 4 previous generations of my family were miners and I think it is important to keep the history alive. 

Before retiring I had been a tutor at university teaching social history, sociology and gender studies and then ran a community teaching company. I also did freelance research. 

My hobbies before lockdown were volunteering, looking after grandchildren and reading but as all of these are not possible now I have luckily rediscovered my previous interests of sewing, knitting and gardening


Pit Brow Lasses

One fun fact I have learned is about the Pit Brow Lasses. Because of their practical masculine style of dress with trousers, and the very hard manual work they did they were very unusual and controversial in the Victorian era. Many people from all over the country wanted to take their photos, but if you look at the ones in the collection there are a lot which are obviously posed and taken in a photographer’s studio. Pit Brow lasses would charge the photographer who took their photo. As they initially earned much less than the men for the hard work they did at the colliery you can’t blame them from cashing in on their notoriety! 

Meet Kate!

Hi, I’m Kate, a volunteer at the National Coal Mining Museum and like many of you, I’ve been really missing the museum during lockdown. As a volunteer with the museum’s collections team, I’ve been helping to research the history of the flame safety lamp for our new ‘Illumination Gallery’ and am really looking forward to it opening soon.


My quirky fact was discovered whilst researching George Stephenson for the Illumination Gallery using books in the library collection. 

I was amused to discover some of his early inventions. Stephenson’s practical mind and creativity meant he began inventing things from a young age.  Some of his early inventions as a young man included a mechanical scarecrow with rotating arms to scare off the birds, and it was a way of attaching a baby’s cradle to a meat jack in order to continuously rock the baby to sleep! 

Do you have any interesting mining facts? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in Learn | Heritage | Volunteering


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