The View from England: Win their hearts, and minds will follow – by Chris Hinde (Northern Miner – May 19, 2023)

I shed tears within 30 pages. I expect you would too and, if you’re a miner, so you should. In a recently-published novel we are taken back to a small mining town in October 1966 when our industry killed children, young children, half a school of them.

Published by Faber & Faber, ‘A Terrible Kindness’ reminds us (as Jo Browning Wroe writes in her opening sentence) of when “something dreadful happened in Wales.” In Aberfan on that dark morning, 116 children (mostly between the ages of seven and 10) went to school and didn’t come back.

Their school roof poking above a sea of coal slurry is an image that will never fade, but many have been able to rationalize what happened. The spoil heap above Pantglas Junior School had an unusual composition and safe slope angles were compromised, the rain was heavy and the spring beneath the dump forgotten. (Legislation followed against this happening again, and the engineering geology of waste dumps was advanced and adopted world-wide.)

Hearts are not so easily repaired. A nation that had long embraced mining was betrayed, and the mining industry (everywhere) needs hearts as well as minds on its side. Cold calculation and rational reasoning are not enough.

For the rest of this column: