Shirebrook a long way from Hollywood for Jason

Today's stop on our Retro A to Z of Sheffield and surrounding areas calls in at a mining village that was the birthplace of a film star.

Thursday, 17th March 2016, 7:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2016, 7:56 pm
Troops leave Shirebrook Station in 1914

Shirebrook in Derbyshire, near the Nottinghamshire border, has recently come to national attention as the home of a Sports Direct distribution centre that was exposed for appalling working conditions.

Action film hero Jason Statham, who made his breakthrough in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, was born in Shirebrook in 1967.

A view of Church Drive, Model Village, Shirebrook

He has starred in the Fast and Furious and The Expendables series and last year sent up his tough guy persona in Spy.

Jason was also a competition diver, coming 12th in the 1992 world championships.

Shirebrook Miners Welfare Band was formed in 1903 to teach miners’ children music. The first practice room was over a chemist’s shop, according to the band website,

Called Shirebrook Silver Prize Band under its first conductor, Joe Levick, it won national acclaim by winning the Grand Shield in 1927 at Crystal Palace in London.

A view of Church Drive, Model Village, Shirebrook

I am indebted to the fantastic Durham Mining Museum website,, for a wealth of information about Shirebrook Colliery,

In 1896 Shirebrook Colliery Company began sinking two shafts to the Top Hard seam under the direction of Arnold Lupton, a professor in mining, who later became an MP.

By 1898 the miners were in dispute over the price they earned per ton and their bad treatment by management (some things never change).

A strike started on May 25. Police were drafted in and the strikers were ordered to leave their company homes or pay a fortnight’s rent in advance.

Potential scabs from Glasgow left when they realised they were being brought in to break a strike and later more came from Wales. Locals paid their expenses home.

Miners’ leader James Haslam sent a furious letter to his counterpart in Pontypridd, pointing out that the miners were supporting locked-out colleagues in South Wales and expected the same solidarity.

Management agreed to conciliation and the miners went back to work after 17 weeks.

Nine years later, three miners were killed when a cage fell.

The museum said that the colliery opening led to the local population rising from 567 in the 1891 to 6,200 10 years later.

The Model Village built for workers and their families arriving from around the country did not keep up with demand.

Some new arrivals had to live in tents and huts in fields, with terrible consequences for health and hygiene, including a typhoid epidemic in 1900.

The 1920 Sankey Commission recommendations improved villages like Shirebrook with a welfare levy on coal output. Pit head baths, institutes, canteens, recreation grounds, health services and educational activities were set up.