A nod to Selby’s industrial past was revealed recently, as former mineworkers unveiled their new Selby Coalfield ceremonial banner.
Done through a blessing ceremony from Rev. Canon John Weetman at Selby Abbey on Tuesday (July 6), the banner was welcomed by representatives of former coal pits from across the Selby complex. In its heyday, Selby Coalfield was the biggest in Europe and employed thousands of men at Riccall, Whitemoor, North Selby, Stillingfleet, Wistow and Gascoigne Wood, before the final pit closure in 2004. The mining banner project was initially started in 2019 after a plan was put in place to amalgamate six of the individual Selby pit banners together to make one ’United Selby Coalfield’ design. After consulting ex-coal miners on their plans, the local Selby branch of the National Union of Mineworkers continued the proposals throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those plans finally came to fruition, as former miners Steve-Shaw-Wright, Simon Cahill and Bobby Park joined Rev. Weetman for the blessing ceremony. Featuring all of the coal mines that featured within the Selby Coalfield complex and the words ‘an industry built on blood, sweat and tears’, the banner will now be packed away and used at protests, galas and special ceremonial mining events in the future. Simon Cahill, the delegate for the Selby branch of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: “We wanted to produce a design that included every single pit in the Selby Coalfield. We had six individual banners before, one for each mine, but now we’re on a more united front. “We look forward to bringing the flag out in the future to mark the sacrifices that former miners made in this town and remember the rich industrial past of the town.” Steve Shaw-Wright, who worked at Newmarket Pit and Riccall Pit during his career, added: “This banner reflects the history and what miners gave up - some paying the ultimate sacrifice. “There are always emotions unlocked when it comes to banners and having all of the history out in front of you. Seeing the old pit banners combined into one design is great to see.”
From left to right are Rev. Canon John Weetman, Simon Cahill, Bobby Park and Steve Shaw-Wright. (08-07-100 ST/PG)