Mono - 2nd - Silver

Chris Upton ARPS - Thoresby, the end of the mine


The 10th July 2015 was a landmark date in the history of Nottinghamshire as it brought to end end 900 years of mining in the county with the closure of Thoresby Colliery.

Coal had played a vital role in the development of Great Britain powering the country through the industrial revolution and two world wars. At its zenith over 1m men were employed in almost 1,500 mines scattered around the country. Nottinghamshire pits played a key role in the industry and Thoresby was the jewel in the crown but with the closure of the mine a chapter was closed in the industrial history of the country.

The closure also brought to an end an amazing 12 month project documenting the pit in its final days.

So as a Travel and Landscape photographer how did I make the leap to Social Documentary? Well it was a chance conversation with a miner after giving a Travel lecture when I was asked if I would like to take some photographs at Thoresby before it closed. I jumped at the chance to grab a few different pictures for my portfolio and that was the start of an incredible project that ultimately captured an important part of our history for posterity.

I chose to present the images in black and white with a moody, gritty feel reflecting the harsh nature of the industry but hopefully with a feeling of sensitivity too.

The whole project was shot using my Fujifilm cameras and lenses, perfect due to their size and weight, which also meant they were less intimidating when shooting portraits.

This project was a tremendous personal experience. It stretched me, it brought a purpose to my photography and it certainly raised my profile. I guess all photographers would say that their personal family pictures are their most important ones and I’m no different. But after those, these images are the most important body of work I have created. They represent a key part of our social and industrial heritage, something that will never be repeated.