Farewell To The Monty
Farewell To The Monty began in the spring of 2015, exploring one of the last privately owned drift mines in England. This method of mining largely vanished from England during the 1980’s and Ayle East Colliery continues to work largely unnoticed despite this. The 18-inch coal seam at Ayle East has been worked by the Shepherd family for four generations and currently employs seven miners.
The photographs act to document what is now an alien world to the new upwardly mobile British working class. Working environments such as these were once familiar across the region and the working life, as it still is at Ayle East, was passed on generation through generation. As society progressed we have moved away from these working structures and Ayle serves as a footprint to an older way of life.
Images of mining in the UK are almost synonymous with gritty notions of ‘the north’, the 1980’s, militant trade unions, strikes and political turmoil. Yet Ayle East is none of these things, it’s independent status and rural location placed it on the periphery of that well documented era of northern English history. So work has continued hidden from one of the UK’s great historical struggles and will continue to do so escaping the clutches of time.