Tag Archives: pit

Narrative

Trying to write a narrative to accompany this project is, for me, so difficult.

The Road to Blackhall

For many years Blackhall was no more than a village to pass through, very rarely stopping, only maybe to visit the Co-op for bread, or milk, things you run out of or have forgotten to buy at the large supermarket in the neighbouring town.  I never noticed the inhabitants, never wondered who they were or what their lives were like in this ex-pit village.   But I have a history that connects me to this place.  It is filled with memories of my dad, Albert Anson.  He lived here, he worked here, he is buried here. 

I wanted to reconnect with him, with my history. I wanted to rediscover lost memories, create new ones.  I have a large collection of black and white photos, some taken when we were kids, happily laughing as we played on the beach, in the garden, or sat on the back doorstep.  Amongst them are photos of relatives and people I do not know, all long gone.  But in these photos I find a connection with my dad.   I find a connection with my past. 

And now I can add to that collection of photographs.  These photos that I have taken are the now of Blackhall, the people and their lives.  They help me to rediscover my dad and his past, and they reconnect me to him in such a way that I could never imagine happening. 

Blackhall is a survivor.  Once it had a pit but now it is long gone.  Once the people had employment on their doorsteps but now that is gone too.  My dad was born in a neighbouring village.  His dad was from Sunderland.  I know little about my grandfather (he was knocked down and killed in Blackhall long before I was born)    In them days men, and their families, moved around from pit to pit, going where the work was. 

Blackhall Bound

little cutie dog

Finally got out and about in Blackhall even though it wasn’t for long.  Had a lovely walk around.  Didn’t get no photos but it was nice to walk the streets again and see a familiar place.  The last few months have been very hectic, work, life, everything seems to get in the way of taking photos at the moment.  And the weather, hate it when its cold and wet, just want to hibernate away until Spring.  I’m still posting photos on the Blackhall History facebook page so that people know who I am and what I’m doing.  I’m hoping that people will trust me to come and take some photos in their homes.  That’s what I’d like to do next, get to see family life.  I’ve made a few more contacts, met some lovely people at the WI.  Its been a long progress and I’m not the most disciplined of people but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end.  What’s important I think is the enjoyment that both myself and the people whom I involve get out of it.  And I’m sure my Dad would have been proud of me too.  I always feel a connection to him whilst I’m in Blackhall and that’s what this project is all about, exploring that connection and exploring the streets and haunts that my Dad would have walked along or visited.

What I do love about Blackhall too is the vibrancy that you get when you walk along Middle Street.  This is what makes Blackhall unique, and is what possibly keeps it alive.  I know I’ve spoken about this before but at lot of pit villages died when the pits were closed but Blackhall hangs in there.

Stand in Middle Street and see the lovely people going about their business, the footfall, the traffic, its the hub and its busy.  A lot of people choose to look at the downside of many places, how people are alienated, how desperate lives have become, how people are struggling to survive.  It might go against the grain but I want to show the positive side of a place like Blackhall.