Voices in the Coalshed: Competition
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Voices in the Coalshed: Competition

Lots of people enjoy competitions, even it is only watching them on television; many of us like to pit our wits against the contestants to see if we can beat them. Others enjoy the thrill of actually taking part in competitions and there are many to choose from.

Within the mining industry there were many competitions. For example, seventy years ago this month, in January 1954, the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation, or CISWO, held the third Mineworkers Male Voice Choir Contest in Brodsworth Miners’ Welfare Hall, Doncaster (pictured below).

 Male voice choir contest leaflet

If you look at the August 1947 edition of Coal Magazine, you will see reference to the advantages of taking part in competitions and how it might benefit mine employees. G.Buckell tells us, “One of the best ways of training a student to become a good ambulance man is to get him to go to competitions, where he gains invaluable experience.” The competitors took that experience back to their day-to-day work.

It wasn’t just ambulance men that took part in competitions. Mines rescue teams also competed against each other, and the mining regions also competed to produce the most coal. You can see photographs of record-breaking teams of colliers in the Martyn Pitt photography exhibition currently on display in the museum.

The competitions mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg; miners competed in many different events from knurr and spell to pigeon fancying; from whippet racing to growing flowers and vegetables. All of these enriched their lives away from the pits.

Coal magazine (NCB), Aug. 1947, p12.
[Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0]

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