Coal Town




Coal Town

Photographer Mik Critchlow
ISBN 9781908457547
Duotone 270x290mm (landscape) + 216pp

Mik Critchlow (b.1955) is a social documentary photographer based in the North East of England. Mik has worked on long term community-based projects for over forty years. His work is held in many public and private collections and has been widely exhibited & published.

For the past 42 years, Mik has photographed the town, people and surrounding areas of Ashington, the town in which he was born, educated and still lives.

Ashington is a small coastal town, north of Newcastle Upon Tyne, in Northumberland. Before the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947, it was the headquarters of the Ashington Coal Company, which paternally controlled the work, housing, education, leisure and social behaviour of its workforce.The town owed its very existence to coal mining but, although extracting coal was the dominant factor in their lives, miners and their families shared many interests and enjoyed a strong tradition of community life.

Mik’s great-grandfather moved with his family from the coalfields of Staffordshire to the Northeast in search of work in the mid-1800s, when the industry was booming and many new mines were being sunk to satisfy the huge demand brought on by the Industrial Revolution. His grandfather worked at Woodhorn Colliery for 52 year, his father was a miner for 45 years and his two brothers worked for 25 years before taking redundancy shortly after the 1984 Miners’ Strike.

Coal had been in the family blood for at least four generations but Mik, with the approval of his parents, left school at the age of 15 to become a merchant seaman. Having travelled the world for a few years he returned to Ashington in 1977, enrolled on an arts course at the local college, picked up a camera for the first time and began photographing his hometown.

In 1978, he applied for a Northern Arts grant to further this work, stating: I see my work within the context of a long term plan, documenting the area in which I was born, educated and now live during periods of social and economic change.

Little did he know just how long he would continue this work.


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