Boxing Clever

I was in Horden in County Durham a couple of days ago on assignment for Getty Images shooting material for a pre-election feature on the town. During the day that I spent there I came across a boxing club and after a little digging found out that it was open later that evening so I decided to go along to Horden Amateur Boxing Club and have a chat and try to arrange to shoot a few pictures.

On the evening I went back and there were around 15 people attending, ranging in age from 10 to 27 all under the expert eye of head trainer, Liam. During a relatively short period of time I photographed them training and it was good to see the commitment and dedication of the youngsters to their training and the keenness that they went about the training they were asked to do.

It offers the boxers and especially the youngest amongst them an opportunity to commit to something and gives them an outlet and it’s a place I’d like to go back to and spend a little more time there than I had the other evening.

Below are a few of the pictures I shot in the brief time I was there….



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See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link….. HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

No usage without arrangement

Grassroots – Horden

Horden is a coastal town on the North-east coast of England in County Durham. Politically it is part of the wider Easington constituency and is a key marginal seat that is sure to play an important part in the General Election this coming May. Split between the Horden North and Horden South wards of Durham County Council it has been represented since 2010 by Grahame Morris of the Labour Party.

Built-up around a strong coal mining heritage the mine here was one of the biggest and most productive in Europe. Operated mainly for the purpose of working undersea coal it had three shafts and at the height of operating in the 1930s it employed over 4000 men and produced over 1.5million tonnes of coal a year.

Unfortunately large volumes of water and other geological issues meant that Horden Colliery failed to make a profit from the later part of the 1970s onwards, and in 1986 it was finally closed.

Inevitably after the closure the town started to suffer from increased unemployment, a rise in anti-social behaviour, higher than average health issues and a decline in some of the housing standards – with many of the original miner’s housing – the numbered streets such as Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets – becoming particularly neglected.

With around 130 of the homes in and around these streets and which are currently owned by Accent Housing Association remaining empty many of them have fallen into a state of disrepair and now require substantial work to repair them. Accent state that when millions of pounds of regeneration money was withdrawn following the government’s implementation of the bedroom tax they could no longer afford to follow through with the investment plan that they had in place. Discussions are now taking place to determine what can be done with the properties to improve them.

Over recent years Horden has benefited from the removal of mining spoil heaps and the redevelopment of its Welfare Park which houses Horden’s rugby, cricket and football teams. The Durham Heritage Coast Partnership is committed to the conservation, protection and enhancement of the coastline and is now home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.


To finish off the day of #Grassroots I also covered a public meeting for residents of Horden organised by the UK Independence Party as they look to increase their influence ahead of the General election this coming May. The UKIP MEP for the North East region Jonathan Arnott was joined by MEP and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Dudley North Bill Etheridge and together they spoke to members of the public who attended the meeting about their approach to key issues before they opened up the floor to a question and answer session.


Below are some of the pictures I shot as part of the series whilst on assignment for Getty Images and which form part of a pre-election feature that I wanted to do on the town and also as part of the #Grassroots coverage I’m working on as we head towards the election. It was a very long and busy day but I met some really friendly people through the day and it was good to see that despite some difficulties in recent years there still remains a sense of community and a pride in a town that like so many other former mining towns around the north of the country that have suffered so much there still remains some hope that things may change in the future.


Hopefully it will and my thanks go to those I met during my time in Horden for chatting to me and letting me shoot some pictures.




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Click on the links below to see more in the #Grassroots series…

Grassroots – Hartlepool

Grassrots – Dormanstown

Grassroots – Eston

See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link…. HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

No usage without arrangement

Pitmen’s Pride

From early morning on the twelfth of August in 1871 groups of miners and their families made their way steadily towards the City of Durham. Like small conquering armies they headed towards the cathedral city along the small roads and tracks that snaked through the countryside marching behind heavy canvas banners held aloft by those at the head of the column. Many travelled by foot but some rattled their way towards the city on horse drawn wagons. The pitmen, whilst a little apprehensive about the welcome they might receive from the city folk marched proudly and with purpose.

The city people were not happy that these pitmen were making their way towards their city. They were, in the eyes of those who lived within the relative comfort of the city, a race apart. Living hand to mouth in small isolated villages they eked out a meagre existence. These pitmen who lived constantly within earshot of the clatter of the winding engines and who were always covered by the ever present black dust that permeated everything they owned. Living in their small homes engulfed with the sulphurous fumes that spewed from the ventilation furnaces they appeared, at least to the city dwellers like marauding clans. Coming into their city and taking pleasure in the ale-houses, gambling at pitch and toss or wagering on cockfights. On their way to town they poached the squire’s pheasants and game and stole turnips from his fields and if all of this wasn’t bad enough it was their smouldering discontent, which could erupt at any moment into riot, that was feared most.


These days the Durham Miners Gala is no less lively or busy. The people still come but these days they make their way into town in buses or cars rather than making the long walk. People are still partial to the odd pint…or several and in its recent past even the odd fight…or several have been known to break out. But generally speaking the Gala, or ‘Durham Big Meet’ as it is called locally is a little less troublesome. There is a little less of the smouldering discontent and more of a carnival atmosphere pervades. But some still remains. As the speakers, including long time Labour MP and former miner Dennis Skinner address the crowds at the racecourse once the march through the town has ended the political and trade union rhetoric is strong. Feelings remain high among the gathered crowds who listened to the speakers. It always will be in what remains a strong Labour and union area. But in as far as the pits are concerned the winding engines have slowed to a halt. The black dust has now settled. The sulphurous fumes no longer rise into the air and where once a hundred mines made up the mighty Durham coalfield today none remain.


Events this Saturday began with many hundreds of people coming together in the Market Place – the main assembly point for the start of the parade through Durham. The colliery brass bands play with vigour as they are followed by their respective banners. Carried by proud men from the outlying towns and villages. Behind these come those with allegiances to those former great colliery villages and together they begin the march from there to the racecourse. Many hundreds of people stand watching along on the route and applaud them as they pass. As they come to the County Hotel on Old Elvet they pause as each band plays a tune to the union leaders the invited guests and local dignitaries who greet the march as they look down from the hotel balcony before stepping off again on the last part of their journey through town.

With thousands of people watching or taking part in the procession it can take three to four hours to pass the County Hotel but an amazing atmosphere of street theatre is created making the occasion more a fiesta than a march.

On arrival at the Racecourse a platform awaits for the speakers to address the crowds. The racecourse quickly fills up with everyone sitting around on the grass. A thousand picnics. There is a lot of drink. Around the perimeter of the field there are food stalls, funfairs and rides offering excitement and thrills to those willing to have a go. Bells, whistles and loud music rise up from the showground amusements in an endless and confusing din as they compete for trade. The smell of food floats through the crowds. Burger stalls. Chips. Candy Floss. Ice cream. Children run playfully amongst the crowds. Younger people drink and have a laugh. Groups of lads show off to groups of girls. Groups of girls show off to groups of lads. Older people and families sit amongst them. The banners that were carried with pride through the city are now all secured to the perimeter fence. Colliery and town band instruments placed carefully at the foot of them. Marking their spot.


This year is the 30th anniversary of the miners strike and Durham Big Meet remains a colourful tapestry of traditions and working class history. Police said around 100,000 people attended this meet – the biggest attendance since the miners strike. It remains more about the people than the politics. This is how it should be but both are intertwined. It is about the people who take part or line the streets. Especially for the younger people or children who will come to know and understand an important part of their regional history. It remains a source of great pride and long may it be so and yet it is also tinged with some sadness. Sadness for an industry lost forever to the people of the Durham coalfield.


The following poem is by John McNally.

A miner of the Morrison Busty Colliery, Annfield Plain.

The Durham Big Meeting

I see them invade our fair city, their coloured banners high.

I hear the martial music, as each lodge goes marching by,

My heart is filled with northern pride that all we miners know,

And I, with teaming thousands more, reflect an inner glow.

Oh! Come you Durham miners, come across the River Wear,

With many a laugh, and many a song, and many a hidden tear.

With banners fluttering in the breeze, and many a head held high,

Each Lodge comes gaily into view, and then goes marching by.

As I pass the County, each band outplays the rest,

For there the miners’ leaders stand, with many an honoured guest.

I wonder what our leaders feel, like generals, as they view,

The best shock troops of Europe were never quite as true.

They must be proud, Sam Watson, Jimmy Kelly, and the rest,

To know that passing years have proved they really stood the test.

Above the River Wear so proud, erect, serene,

The beautiful Cathedral lends its grandeur to the scene,

As it has done through all the years the miners rallied here,

A monument to all their hopes, and to their God so near.

So yearly let it still unfold, this pageantry so dear,

And let the miners’ lodges march across the River Wear,

And, we’ll be there, we Durham men, to give a Durham greeting,

To welcome all the miners as they come to their BIG MEETING.

Below are a few of my shots from the day…..

Durham Miners GalaOne of the colliery bands and their banner stops outside the balcony of the County Hotel to play in front of large crowds

Durham Miners Gala

Nora Newby, 80, from Chilton is one of the first to arrive. Standing in the same spot from 6am for 59 years.Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala

Former miner Billy Huitson, 88, stands and salutes one of the colliery bands as it arrives at the County HotelDurham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners GalaDurham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala Long time Labour party politician and former miner Dennis Skinner addresses the crowds on the racecourse

Durham Miners Gala

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CAMERA INFO – All my pictures from the day were shot with a Fuji X-Pro 1 fitted with an 18mm f2 lens (27mm equivalent) and a Leica M9 fitted with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens. The Summicron lens was also fitted with a 3 stop ND filter allowing me to shoot at wider apertures in the bright sunshine. All pictures were subsequently edited using Lightroom 5.5 and Photo Mechanic. Some minimal dodge and burn techniques were used on some of the pictures using Photoshop CS3. No excessive manipulation of any images was carried out and any editing was in line with what could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.


See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link…… HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / London News Pictures 

No usage or reproduction without permission

Twenty years on

Twenty years to the day after the closure of Easington colliery in County Durham former miners and their families held an event today to remember the closure of the mine and the resulting impact it had on what was one of the major coal production mines in the country. Coincidentally the funeral of Margaret Thatcher was also held on the same day in London following her death last week. Many former miners around the country blame Margaret Thatcher and her conservative government for the decline of the coal industry when she took on the mining union during the 1984/85 miners strike and which ultimately led to the resulting pit closures and all that that these closures then brought to their communities.

The impact of these closures is still felt in these communities and feelings still run very high.

The event which was held at Easington Colliery Club and Institute saw a small number of the former miners display banners outside the club which expressed their continuing strong feelings towards Baroness Thatcher.

During the course of the day I spoke with and photographed a number of ex-miners around Easington who were kind enough to let me take some pictures and who told me a little of their own stories and whilst the pit may have gone and a level of poverty, continuing unemployment and uncertainty about the future may still be in evidence one thing that comes through is the no-nonsense determination of the former pit-men and the pride they still have when they think back to the glory days of British coal production.




Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The Guibal

Standing just a field away from the cliff edge on the rugged coastline between Skinningrove and Saltburn is the Huntcliffe Guibal fan house. This fascinating reminder of a once great industry that was a major regional employer and which led to the development of many of the area’s coastal communities now stands derelict at one of the highest points along this stretch of the coast.

The Guibal fan house and railway line allowing transportation of potash from the mine at Boulby to Teesport

The Guibal fan house, named after its Belgian inventor, was built around 1892. It was used for ventilating the ironstone mines whose tunnels criss-crossed their way through the rock beneath Warsett Hill. The central section of the fan house contained a huge fan nearly 10 feet wide fan. It would rotate at a speed of 50 rpm, drawing air through the mine, allowing the miners to work deep underground. It was powered by a static steam engine that drew the foul air up the shaft and then up a specially designed chimney to the open air. Once in operation fresh air would be drawn into the mine through the drift entrances and could be controlled and directed by a series of shutters or doors usually operated by young boys.

The Guibal fan house

Ironstone mining in Cleveland and North Yorkshire began operating on a commercial scale in the early years of the 19th century. Quarries and mines were opened wherever the ore was located. Tramways, railways and even harbours were constructed to service the mines and hundreds of men and boys were employed to work both underground and at the surface.

Looking out over the cliffs at Skinningrove from inside the Guibal fan house

The mines were worked on the pillar and bord system where a series of ‘bords’ or passageways were cut through the seams and then the remaining pillars were gradually removed as the miners worked back to the mine entrance. Many mines were accessed via a vertical shaft while others were entered along near-horizontal tunnels or ‘drifts’ into the hillside.

Graffiti covered walls inside the fan house

Huntcliff Ironstone Mine which was a drift mine and commenced operations in 1872 by which time ventilation techniques had become more sophisticated. An earlier system involved simply lighting a fire at the base of the shaft to draw the stale air upwards but by the mid 19th century mechanical ventilators were being used.

The railway line allowing transportation of potash from the mine at Boulby to Teesport passes next to the fan house

By the turn of the century the ironstone industry was in decline and although a few mines were in operation until the 1950s and 1960s most had already closed down. Huntcliff Mine closed in 1906 but the fan house, minus its inner workings, still stands as the best remaining example of a Guibal fan house in the country. Despite the graffiti and the affects of the harsh weather the fan house remains designated an ancient monument and stands as a reminder to the once glorious and productive past of Ironstone mining.

Cast iron sculpture created from a mining winding wheel