Sketch of miners on pit road by Norman Cornish
Norman Cornish worked at the Dean and Chapter colliery at Ferryhill for over 30 years - a three mile walk from his home in Bishops’ Close Street in Spennymoor. The colliery was known locally as the Butchers Shop because of the frequency of accidents including 177 fatalities during the lifetime of the pit. Three thousand tons of coal was produced every day by a workforce of 2,135 men underground –a third of it machine-mined and the rest hand hewn. Within five miles of the pit there were some 135 collieries at various stages of working, closing and re-opening. The impact on the environment was everywhere. Norman started work on Boxing Day 1933 and walked the pit road every day for the next 30 years in all weathers and different times of the night and day. A few weeks after he started at Dean and Chapter colliery an underground tunnel collapsed and created the undulation he shows in many of the Pit Road paintings and drawings.