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4.0 out of 5 stars
Lost....a Way of Life., 24 Jun. 2010
In truth, there may have been few who mourned the passing of an age that demanded large groups of men to be sent below the earth in order to draw coal from its depths. The sense of loss must always have been more to do with the destruction of whole communities, their way of life and the means of sustaining themselves and families. No mother, wife or sweetheart could have rested easily on the ever constant prospect of pit disaster and would surely have preferred their menfolk to have pursued any other way of earning a living.
Peter Crookston has interwoven two stories. One is of a miner, musician and vet called Robert Saint who's life seems something of a mystery. This popular bandleader and composer of the miners hymn `Gresford' was also devoted to the care of sick and rescued animals. His varied life style was clearly an influence on the mind of this author as a young boy. The other story is one of real pitmen struggling with the fact of a dying coal industry, threatened loss of livelihood and an end to a way of life that is steeped in tradition. There are individual stories of heartache and hardship here, told by those very people who were affected by the desolation of pit closures.
Pitmen's Requiem is a sad reminder of an age now passed on but there must always remain a certain nobility and pride in those men who were required to spend half of their often short lives in the deep, damp bowels of the earth. It must also be true that every one of them would surely have preferred a more healthy and better way of providing for their loved ones. Lastly, there can be little doubt that pit closures saved many a young man from following in his fathers foot steps and spending a working life in that dark world below.