University of York: film recreates the dramatic events of the Oaks Colliery explosions in Barnsley in 1866

Black Snow portrays England’s worst mining disaster. Credit: Bryan Ledgard

A University of York professor has made a film recreating the dramatic events of the Oaks Colliery explosions in Barnsley in December 1866.

YORK, 26-Sep-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Stephen Linstead, a filmmaker and professor at the York Management School, has brought England’s worst ever mining disaster to life in the film Black Snow, which explores the events which claimed the lives of at least 361 men and boys.

Contemporary accounts of the explosions describe houses shaking for miles around as coal was blasted upwards, turning the sky dark grey, and depositing a residue described as ‘black snow’.

The film was premiered at the 400-seat Parkway Cinema in Barnsley earlier this year and is being distributed, with an accompanying book, to schools in Yorkshire and beyond. The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Professor Linstead said: “I learned so much about the community that I have lived in, on and off, all my life, and I think it was a massive learning experience for everyone on the project.

“The explosions on 12 and 13 December had a devastating impact on local communities with virtually the entire male population of several streets wiped out.  But despite the scale of the tragedy, the historical evidence is confusing. The reports laid down in Parliament after the disaster gave differing reasons for the explosion and there was no full enquiry. We used virtual reality in the film to capture the sense of that confusion, and underline that there is no version of history that you can access to get to the final truth of it.”

For a copy of the film Black Snow contact Paul Hardman on paul@num.org.uk.

SOURCE: University of York

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