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Brass, Mines and Communities

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Andrew Rawling discusses  Brassed Off

 

Given the enormity of the 1984-85 miner’s strike it’s understandable that we often think that’s where the story of the miners ended, with the pits closed and the industry gone.

 

In the 31 years since the strike arguably a one dimensional image of miners has emerged: one of a year long strike that dominated the news on our television screens each evening.  What is all too often overlooked in such observations is the miner himself. For a miner was not only a miner, but also a son, brother, husband, father, a lover, someone who enjoyed football, films, art and, of course, music. Brassed Off portrays these all too often overlooked aspects of the miner beautifully.

 

The standard bearer of any pit was its brass band, for a brass band works on the same principle as a team of miners: each miner/musician in a specialist role but completey reliant on their fellow miner/musician to produce the creative whole. And Brassed Off tells the story of one such band set against the pit’s closure in 1993.

 

As union and management argue and ballot over closure, conductor Danny Ormondroyd is determined the band will play on. With redundancy, evictions and family break ups looming, many question Danny’s priorities. But like the pit itself, the band is the glue that holds the community together, and in the wake of the pit’s closure the realisation dawns that the band’s survival is more vital than ever.

 

Britain’s last deep coal mines closed in 2015. Yet across former coal fields colliery bands continue to play concerts and galas. The most notable being the Durham Miners Gala, which attracts over 150,000 people every July.

 

Coal mining may have gone, but the miners, their families and the communities that sustained the history for hundreds of years remain, and they are rightly celebrated and remembered each and every time the colliery brass plays.

 

Brassed Off runs at Oldham Coliseum Theatre from Wednesday 7 September – Saturday 1 October. 

Book tickets online here, call in at Box Office or phone 0161 624 2829