In Black and White

by Peter Williams

The County of Kent, with its hop gardens, oasthouses and orchards, is known around the world as the Garden of England. In the 1920s, plans were drawn up to transform it into a new, industrial Black Country of coalmines and ironworks. Men starved of work during The Depression flocked to Kent, seeking jobs in the 18 new collieries promised by Neville Chamberlain, who would soon become Britain’s Prime Minister. Tens of thousands of men settled in Kent, with their families, and they stayed even when Britain’s collieries closed in the 1980s. But, like any immigrants, they were strangers in an established community, folk who lived off the land rather than beneath it. Peter Williams tells the unique story of a century of Kent coal. It is a story of love and hate, great triumphs and crushing disappointments, team spirit and laughter, and conflict at the highest level of Government. Michael Irwin, Professor of English at the University of Kent, writes: Peter Williams gives a multi-faceted account of a complex, 20th century migration of coalminers across Britain. We know less about life down a mine than we do about the lives of elephants and insects. IN BLACK AND WHITE puts the lives of this community on the record, before the mining industry lapses into the past, like horse-drawn transport, to be similarly erased from the collective memory.