Over the last few months the project team have been excited and inspired by the stories of the ex-miners and workers from the Bideford Black Pigments Ltd, from people who grew up playing around the mines, as well as from others with incredible knowledge about the local history and geology surrounding the pigment. From tales of long dirty hours working underground to practical jokes and games out of sight of the boss (if you were caught you would be polishing his black Riley sports car!), along with reams of newspaper cuttings, maps, photographs and fascinating relics acquired from the derelict mines and complex geochemical papers we are accumulating audio and video and good-old-fashioned written recordings about the subject. So now to unravel and assess the material, to arrange and rearrange and compose it all to reveal a simple and effective means to share The Story of Bideford Black for everyone to enjoy.
Wally Mugford (ex-foreman), Jimmy Mugford (processing-plant worker) and brother with lorry driver at the mines, holding mining lamps, c.1953.
Bideford Black Pigment Ltd mining lamps donated to the project by Don Kersey.
Having brought everything together and chosen the most appropriate parts to express the essence of this tale, we will next be taking the Story to a few local schools, along with a specially created Teacher’s pack by Learning Co-ordinator Sadie Green. 120 children will be treated to a special Bideford Black day where they will be taken on a walk to look at the few remains of the mining industry in the town in the company of artist Pete Ward and ex-miners Gerald Ford and Ron Pither and then invited to paint their interpretations of the stories using Bideford Black itself. Some of the pictures will then be displayed in a special exhibition to be held in the Burton Gallery when the new display is unveiled in October. It’s going to be a busy summer!