The new director of the National Coal Mining Museum has pledged to preserve the crisis-hit industry’s heritage, just weeks after the last deep mine pit in the country closed in Yorkshire.
The final shift at Kellingley Colliery in West Yorkshire, took place in December, but Mike Benson, who has been appointed as the Wakefield museum’s new director, said mining’s heritage is as relevant as ever before.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to working alongside everyone here at NCMME and alongside the communities we are here to serve, it is both an incredible honour to be Director here in this special place and incredibly humbling. We will very much be looking to build upon the successes of the Museum as we continue to inspire folk from far and wide with our heritage, a heritage that transformed the world with values and ways are as relevant today as ever.”
Mr Benson succeeds Dr Margaret Faull. A former Teeside steelworker of 28 years, he became involved with heritage whilst completing an Open University degree. He began as a voluntary guide at The Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, before setting up Iron Awe, a local history group. He later became director of Ryedale Folk Museum, where he stayed for seven years, before moving to Bede’s World, Jarrow, in 2011. Most recently he worked at the South Tyneside Museum.
Chairman of the museum, former Wakefield MP David Hinchcliffe, said Mr Benson’s wealth of experience and passion for heritage was “truly motivating”.