It has been 21 years since the surprise low budget movie Brassed Off was released and this month sees members of the cast and the legendary Grimethorpe colliery band performing a one off concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London to celebrate.
The famous final scenes of the comedy-drama, starring the late Pete Postlethwaite, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Tompkinson and Tara Fitzgerald, are set in the London venue, and the event will see the brass band team up with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
But what of Grimethorpe itself?
Well the once proud labour supporting mining village is torn with which way to vote in the upcoming general election. Many of the villagers are feeling let down by Jeremy Corbyn’s undeceive leadership of the labour party. The village voted to leave in last years EU referendum and even though Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and will begin negotiations to leave, many villagers can still remember how Margaret Thatcher and the Tories treated them during the miners strike and refuse to vote Conservative.
Grimethorpe was named the poorest village in the 1990’s and since then the Government has spent around £100m in investment into the area. One area that didn’t receive this money though was the Miners Welfare Sports Ground. The sports ground was paid for and run by the miners when the colliery was open was then supported by the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) after the pit closed. But after pouring thousands of pounds into the site, it’s gates are now locked closed and the field over grown with weeds and dandelions.
But not all is doom and gloom in this ex mining community, new roads have been built creating better links between Grimethorpe and the surrounding area. New housing estates have appeared and many independent shops adorn the local high street.
The land the old colliery once stood is now a wasteland with a sign advertising an industrial unit coming here soon. The main village, like many ex-mining communities in South Yorkshire houses huge faceless warehouses and factories for the likes of online clothing company ASOS and Symphony beds.
Many Grimethorpe residents are not happy with the warehouses and factory and believe they offer jobs to people from outside the community and are brought in by buses from Barnsley and Sheffield instead of providing jobs for local villagers. According to locals that still live in the village many families have had to relocate out of Grimethorpe to find work elsewhere.
One thing which is certain is that this once safe labour seat will have a new MP after the election on 8th June . This is because the local MP Michael Dugher, an outspoken critic of labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is standing down. But which way will Grimethorpe vote? In Barnsley 68.3 per cent of the voters backed leave and many of the voters have lost faith in Mr Corbyn’s leadership. But Theresa May has a similar lack of support from the community too.
One Grimethorpe resident told the Yorkshire Post recently “Everybody round here always voted Labour. But I’m not voting for Corbyn and I’m not the only one. He doesn’t know what he is on with. I will look on the day who to vote for but it won’t be Labour”.
Another added, “I’m UKIP now and I have always been Labour all my life. It’s simple – because of what Margaret Thatcher did to us. I like Nigel Farage, he always tells the truth and tells the EU what he thinks of them”.
Another local interviewed by the Yorkshire Post had the following to say about voting Conservative, “They wouldn’t be any different for this area. They would be for the better-off places like Cawthorne and Silkstone”. This view is that many locals are not happy with the labour run Barnsley council who appear to have not done anything positive to stop the fly tipping problems in Grimethorpe.
The other problem is that those dissatisfied with both the leading parties may not vote at all in the general election believing that their vote will have no affect on the countries politics. Either way it looks like Grimethorpe, the ex mining village which was immortalised in the hit film of the 1990’s is still pretty much brassed off.
Jordan’s Solicitors has a department working with ex coal miners looking into their Vibration White Finger claims as it has come to light many were unsettled and many miners missed out on £1000’s. If you’re an ex miner and think you may have a claim contact a member of our VWF team free on 03303 001103 or click here.