I don’t have a photo of Joe Johnson, but as a tribute to him and thousands more, here’s a little chap carved out of coal and sold to support the NUM strike fund in the 1980’s.
At fourteen, Grandad Joe was a pit pony driver. He died at the age of 53 from emphysema, a lung disease caused by breathing in coal dust. In between was a lifetime of hard, dirty, dangerous physical work. When he was in his final illness, his son, “fighting for Britain”, was refused leave to go home and see him. The Army graciously gave him leave to go to the funeral.
There are no coal miners in Britain now but I hope my family, at least, will never forget the sacrifices they made to fuel homes and industry: and the despicable treatment they got from the forces of the British establishment.
Born Joseph William Johnson on 23 January 1887 in Newbold, Derbyshire
Married Lily Leachman in 1909
Died September 1940 in Chesterfield