The Industrial Life gallery charts the history of coal mining in the local area and gives an impression of what it was like to work in one of the many collieries that used to operate in the borough.
The working conditions for miners could be hot, cold, humid, dusty, cramped and wet to say the least. Before the 1950s the levels of dust in mines was unregulated and this caused debilitating health conditions for miners later in life.
The working day was long and hard. In the 19th century it was not uncommon for a miner to work 13-16 hours a day.
Despite the tough conditions, to be a miner really was a way of life and one of the more favorable aspects was the friendship and camaraderie. Mining communities in this area, as in many other parts of the country were very close.
Social activities were an important aspect of the industry and many collieries formed their own sports teams. Miners' brass bands were also commonplace. Local bands included Heanor, Ripley, Langley Mill, Codnor and Loscoe.
The welfare club was the centre of many social activities. The Ilkeston Miner's Welfare which opened in 1924 stood on the corner of Bristol Road and Manners Road. The building offered a library, concert hall, bars, and outdoor recreational facilities including bowls and tennis courts. Such welfare clubs added to the sense of community amongst miners and gave relief from what could be an extremely tiring occupation.
Manners Colliery Cricket Club c.1898 - Image courtesy of Ilkeston Library
A broad selection of objects and tools used by miners are displayed in the Industrial Life gallery and are accompanied by lots of interesting information on the history of local collieries and the lives of the people that worked there. They help to give some sense of what life was like for miners and their families in the Erewash area.