Coal Face.

Taking a collection of cameras and equipment underground, I started a new documentary project early in 2018, working closely with a small group of Free Miners in the Forest of Dean.

Working above and below ground and also at night this has been a very interesting experience, if a little scary at times. Getting to know the coal miners, earning their trust so that I can shoot freely, learning a little about what they do and dealing with the technical issues of shooting in dark, filthy, cold and damp conditions in very poor light has been a real challenge but one that I have fully embraced. The work is on going as the Free Mine now faces new challenges from the Government.

This project is in The Independent, November 2018, as part of the Independent Minds section, with text from Chris Manby.
A book will be available early next year and an exhibition of the work is also due for 2019. 

The Daylight shift.

The Daylight shift.

Deep Underground.

Deep Underground.

Hard work on the surface.

Hard work on the surface.

It's cramped and very hands on.

It's cramped and very hands on.

Shovel and scales.

Shovel and scales.

Chip Shop run.

Chip Shop run.

Getting prepared.

Getting prepared.

Grading the Coal.

Grading the Coal.

Night Shift, getting prepared.

Night Shift, getting prepared.

One of the Miners.

One of the Miners.

Tea Break.

Tea Break.

Free Miners.

Free Miners.

The Coal Grading Begins.

The Coal Grading Begins.

On the surface, moving the workers hut.

On the surface, moving the workers hut.

Workers Hand.

Workers Hand.

Safety Equipment.

Safety Equipment.

Starting the Night Shift.

Starting the Night Shift.

Everyone works together to achieve the end result.

Everyone works together to achieve the end result.

Tea making during the cold night.

Tea making during the cold night.

Mike Howell. Free Miner.

Mike Howell. Free Miner.

Adam Taylor.

Adam Taylor.

Iain Jameison.

Iain Jameison.

Phillip.

Phillip.

Rob Putch.

Rob Putch.

John.

John.

Paul Baverstock.

Paul Baverstock.

Key Board.

Key Board.

Track Bending with the Jim Crow.

Track Bending with the Jim Crow.

Coal Truck.

Coal Truck.

Moving the new Grader.

Moving the new Grader.

Working hard, into the late night.

Working hard, into the late night.

Free Miner Mike, working under ground.

Free Miner Mike, working under ground.

Mike and Phillip, deep in the Coal Mine.

Mike and Phillip, deep in the Coal Mine.

Iain, working on the surface.

Iain, working on the surface.

Paul, making a guard for the new grader.

Paul, making a guard for the new grader.

Tools.

Tools.

Deep in the Mine.

Deep in the Mine.

With permission, recycling Telegraph Poles into Pit Props.

With permission, recycling Telegraph Poles into Pit Props.

Wet and filthy are the conditions under ground.

Wet and filthy are the conditions under ground.

The Coal Mine is a hard place to work especially for the tall, like Edward.

The Coal Mine is a hard place to work especially for the tall, like Edward.

Buckets, or "chuggs" are filled with Coal.

Buckets, or "chuggs" are filled with Coal.

Free Mine owner, Mike, at the Coal Face.

Free Mine owner, Mike, at the Coal Face.

Adam, loading fresh coal onto the new grader.

Adam, loading fresh coal onto the new grader.

Paul, fixing the generator battery.

Paul, fixing the generator battery.

The Independent features writer, Chris Manby, working the Seam.

The Independent features writer, Chris Manby, working the Seam.

Iain, lighting the way by candle light.

Iain, lighting the way by candle light.

Mike and Edward, back filling the walls of the Mine.

Mike and Edward, back filling the walls of the Mine.

Free Miners, Phillip, Tim and Edward, making plans.

Free Miners, Phillip, Tim and Edward, making plans.

Phillip, then and now.

Phillip, then and now.

100 plus year old Coal Truck.

100 plus year old Coal Truck.

Free Mining faces another round of challenges by the Conservative Government.

Free Mining faces another round of challenges by the Conservative Government.

Repaired truck, waiting for the next load of coal.

Repaired truck, waiting for the next load of coal.

Free Miner, Mike, talking shop with Independent Features Writer.

Free Miner, Mike, talking shop with Independent Features Writer.

Free Miner, Mike, explaining the finer points of the Coal Face.

Free Miner, Mike, explaining the finer points of the Coal Face.

Chuggs of Coal about to see the surface, a million years in the making.

Chuggs of Coal about to see the surface, a million years in the making.

Coal on the surface having been across the Grader.

Coal on the surface having been across the Grader.

Digging for new cable pulley anchors.

Digging for new cable pulley anchors.

Final anchor post preparation.

Final anchor post preparation.

Assam tea, coffee and biscuits.

Assam tea, coffee and biscuits.

New work begins on an old air shaft.

New work begins on an old air shaft.

Adam and Paul, working on the new Air Shaft.

Adam and Paul, working on the new Air Shaft.

Old drum to become Air Shaft.

Old drum to become Air Shaft.

The Boss, Mike Howell.

The Boss, Mike Howell.

Phillip, taking a moment to reflect.

Phillip, taking a moment to reflect.