Rotherham’s Black Diamonds house Wentworth Woodhouse is on the search for memories of its coal-mining past.
A January event is giving local people the chance to share stories of ancestors who worked in the Fitzwilliam Collieries or lived in their pit villages.
The Preservation Trust regenerating the Grade I listed stately home is hoping people will come forward with family recollections, photographs and mementos at a sharing session being staged at the house on January 7.
Their information and mining memorabilia will be carefully collated by the trust’s research team, to be shared at a summer exhibition at the house.
The exhibition will mark the 40th anniversary of the national Miners’ Strike, which ran from 1984-85, and explore the mansion’s 200-year coal story and how the fossil fuel industry fed its rise and fall.
“The house has an intrinsic link with coal. The family began mining in South Yorkshire in 1723 and developed scores of pits, which brought them vast wealth. They employed thousands and new homes, churches and schools were built for colliers and their families,”said Jen Booth, WWPT’s VIsitor Operations Manager.
“Many people know how the house’s coal fortunes turned in 1946 when the British Government seized Wentworth Woodhouse’s gardens and parkland for open-cast mining, which went right up to the mansion’s Baroque West Front, and in 1947, when the UK’s coal industry was nationalised.”
The family received financial compensation, but it didn’t make up for the huge annual revenues their mines had provided and though the Fitzwilliams had other sources of substantial income, the future of Wentworth Woodhouse was at risk.
Added Jen: “We are keen to hear from people whose families lived and worked in its mining communities across the centuries, during the good times and the bad. Their memories are really important pieces of social history and deserve to be saved and shared. We want to make sure we tell the whole story.”
People have until December 31 to book a free place at the sharing session being staged on Sunday January 7, 10.30am-1pm by firstname.lastname@example.org