Mining in Kent exhibition – Book a Tour!

We will be holding a series of guided tours of the Mining in Kent exhibition. Join us on a tour to find out more about the exhibition, hear about the exhibition highlights, and get the answers to any questions you might have about mining in Kent!

The exhibition tells the story of the history of mining in Kent, from the early days of discovering the Kent coalfield to the impact of the 1984 Miners’ Strike. Illustrated by original archive material from Special Collections and Archives we explore the main coalfields in the county and what life was like for a Kent miner. We look at the history of miners’ strikes in 1926, 1972, 1974 and 1984 and how these were portrayed by cartoonists in the national press. We take a deeper look at the impact of the 1984/1985 miners’ strike in Kent and the different forms of support that arose for the miners and the mining community, from Kent students to stand-up comedians.

Tours will be led by Karen Brayshaw (Special Collections and Archives Manager) or Beth Astridge (University Archivist).

Tours will be held on:


  • Wednesday 10th July 12pm – with Karen Brayshaw
  • Monday 22nd July 1pm – with Beth Astridge
  • Friday 9th August 12.30pm – with Karen Brayshaw – NOW FULLY BOOKED
  • Tuesday 10th September 12.30pm – with Beth Astridge
  • Thursday 26th September 12.30pm – Karen Brayshaw

If you would like to join us for a guided tour of the Mining in Kent exhibition – please  email to book your place!

Two yellow stickers with red and black text reading "Support the Miners, NUM, Stop Pit Closures"

NUM Support the Miners stickers, from the Richard Richardson Mining Collection

Mining in Kent: An Exhibition exploring the history of mining in Kent

2024 marks both the 40th anniversary of the 1984 Miners’ Strike, and the 100th anniversary of the cutting of the first mineshaft at Betteshanger Colliery, the largest of Kent’s mines.

Front page of a Kent Area National Union of Mineworkers Leaflet titled Solidarity with the Miners, with the title in red text above an image of miner wearing a miner's helmet and head lamp, and the caption 'Coal Not Dole' at the bottom.

Kent Area NUM Leaflet – Solidarity with the Miners (Richardson Mining Collections, Box 6)

Using archive material from Special Collections and Archives, this exhibition tells the story of the history of mining in Kent,  from the early days of discovering the Kent coalfield to the impact of the 1984 Miners’ Strike.

The exhibition showcases material from the following archive collections:

  • The Richard Richardson Mining Collection
  • The British Cartoon Archive
  • The British Stand-Up Comedy Archive
  • The Labour and Socialist Newspapers

With thanks to Beth Astridge and Karen Brayshaw – and especially to our volunteer Amy Green, who have worked on the research and curation of this exhibition.

We will be publishing several blogs of the next few months giving further insight into some of the stories and items on display in the exhibition. So do keep checking here for further blog entries!


Cartoon showing the ups and downs of Arthur Scargill's leadership of the miners' strike with him moving up ladder in March 1984, and sliding down a snake in March 1985.

Nicholas Garland in this cartoon illustrates the rise and fall in the prospects of Arthur Scargill and the NUM from the beginning of the strike in 1984 to the end in 1985. (Reference: British Cartoon Archive, NG2969, Nicholas Garland, Sunday Telegraph, 12th March 1984)



Its Inmates Absurd: The Velvet Underground at the University of Kent 1971

This is a guest blog from our volunteer Peter Stanfield, Emeritus Professor of Film at the University of Kent. Peter has been studying our editions of the University of Kent’s student newspaper ‘InCant’ to build our knowledge of the bands and artists playing on the University Campus in the 1960s and 1970s. If you have any memories of this gig – please do let us know! Email


Its Inmates Absurd: The Velvet Underground at the University of Kent 1971

“After about the first two years we got talking. . .”

– Maureen Tucker on rehearsing with the Velvet Underground

As a live proposition, The Velvet Underground, sans Lou Reed, existed for an improbable 2 ½ years, which included two tours of Europe in 1971 and 1972. In England, Autumn 1971, most of their gigs were on the burgeoning university and college circuit. On November 4, they made an appearance at the University of Kent. The big recent attractions on campus had been The Who, Eliot Dining Hall, May 1970 and in March 1971, in the Sports Hall, Led Zeppelin. More generally, student entertainment was provided by middle-ranking progressive rock bands – Mick Abrahams, Colosseum, Blodwyn Pig and local heroes Caravan. Kent alumni Spirogyra were an ever present feature. In all likelihood, the bookers thought the Velvet Underground would fit right into this scene. For their drummer, Maureen Tucker, the VU were always the exception to such trends.

Image of Maureen Tucker, holding drum sticks, playing the drums for the Velvet Underground.

Image of Maureen Tucker playing in the Velvet Underground at the University of Kent, InCant Student Newspaper, 17th March 1971

The Velvets performed in the Rutherford Dining Hall to a positive response, if the reviewer for the student paper InCant was any indicator. He or she considered them to be a ‘genuine rock and roll band in the American sense, as opposed to the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath’. The reviewer delighted in their choice of covers ­ – Dixie Cups’ ‘Chapel of Love’ and standards ‘Turn On Your Love Light’ and ‘Spare Change’. Lou Reed songs ‘Sweet Nuthin’, ‘Sister Ray’, ‘After Hours’ and, the ‘beautifully corny’ (!?!), ‘White Light/White Heat’ were highlights, with the latter described as ‘funky’ by Doug Yule. InCant’s critic agreed.

Black and white image of an article from InCant student newspaper about a Velvet Underground gig showing two photographs of performers and text descriptions

Review of Velvet Underground gig, InCant Student Newspaper, November 17th 1971.

The interview with the only original member of the band, Maureen Tucker, is a peach. Asked about the shifts in the line-up, she said:

It’s been such a gradual change that to me anyway there’s been no apparent effect. After about the first two years we got talking . . . it was a mutual agreement that we were kind of getting sick of going on stage playing 30 minute songs. It’s just not original after a while, so Lou (Reed) started writing more four minute songs, rock and roll songs. Now it’s even more regular rock and roll than it ever was.


What happened to Nico? She wanted to go off on her own and be a big star

Image of a text article from InCant newspaper about a performance by the band, Velvet Underground

News item on the Velvet Underground concert, InCant student newspaper, Nov 17th 1971

Like most of the events held by the Student’s Union, The Velvet Underground gig lost money; the organisers putting lack of interest, it was suggested, down to the fact the band’s line-up had changed. On that basis they had tried to cancel but were unable to break the contract. Steeleye Span proved to be a bigger draw.

Black and white image of a performer singing at a microphone playing a guitar. He is wearing jeans, a white mickey mouse t-shirt and a thin scarf or tie around his neck.

Image from news article in InCant student newspaper, Issue No 70, 17th November 1971, p6

Back in April 1971, student Helen Chastel had provided InCant with a review of Loaded, soon to be released in the UK. It is one the best summaries of the VU I’ve read.

Proposition: for consistent and versatile genius in rock the Velvet Underground (or V.U.s to the cognoscenti) are equalled only to Dylan and the Stones. Don’t ask questions if you dispute it, write your own review. If you deny it, you are a Quintessence or Andy Williams fan and not worth bothering with.

Helen clearly didn’t think they belonged with the progressive mediocrities. She was a total fan, she’d bought her copy of Loaded in Washington last Christmas while on an exchange to the States and she knew someone who knew Lou Reed – ‘virtuoso extraordinaire, ex-child prodigy, now repudiator of drugs and hippies, mythical recluse . . . Sainthood is all in the mind.’

How many recognise themselves in the line ‘The deep sleep of a suburban upbringing can be shattered by sudden exposure to such a group’? Faced with VU & Nico, Helen ‘saw darkness of which I knew nothing, saw an extreme weariness, people born to die. Eliot (her college at Kent) life became petty, its inmates absurd.’ Reed, she wrote, had a ‘clear and cliché-less view of modern city life’, White Light/White Heat extended even further ‘into a chaos of light, blood, heat and noise . . . The third album is a surfacing, a return to verbal precision’. . . Lou Reed, Saint of the City. Helen Chastel, Saint of VU fans. . .

Image of a text article from a student newspaper titled "Velvet Underground", by Helen Chastel

Review of the Velvet Underground album ‘Loaded’ by Helen Chastel, published in InCant, the University of Kent Student Newspaper, issue No 62, 17th February 1971, p6.

On that same tour of British Universities, the VU entertained Warwick University’s student cohort. Genesis P-Orridge’s COMUS providing support (they also played at Kent in May 1972). Ad and review from the Warwick Boar student paper.

Image of an advert for gigs in Warwick

Gig advertisement for Warwick University

‘The Velvet Underground from whom great things were expected . . .’ Like at Kent, attendance fell below expectations.

Image of an article reviewing 'Ents' at Warwick University including two photographs and a text description of the gigs

Review of ‘Ents’ at Warwick University including the Velvet Underground


For Peter’s original blog see the following link:

Oral History Student Volunteers – Get involved!

Local Stories: Memories of Hopping around Brook and Wye, Kent. 

Do you…

  • Have an interest in oral history?
  • Want to receive free training in conducting oral history interviews?
  • Have an interest in local history or the history of hopping and hop picking in Kent?

If so – come and get involved with this fantastic new project in Special Collections and Archives – where you will interview people from the Brook and Wye area about their memories of hopping.

Special Collections and Archives are working in partnership with Brook Rural Museum on a project for students to explore local peoples’ memories associated with the experience of hop picking and farming in and around Brook and Wye, Kent.

Volunteering on this project will provide you with skills in oral history interviewing (with training from an experienced oral historian) and associated tasks, such as making transcriptions and recording summaries. Most interviews will take place in the villages of Brook or Wye, and expenses for travel will be available. Some aspects of the role can be carried out remotely.

The project will take place between March and June 2024 and will conclude in late 2024 with an exhibition in the Templeman Gallery and at Brook Rural Museum showcasing extracts from the oral history interviews.

Please get in touch at to express an interest and receive information about the application process,. You can also talk to us in Special Collections and Archives if you need more information –

Places on this project are limited – and applications need to be in by 16th February 2024.


Archive Volunteer opportunity – bands and live music at the University of Kent

Do you have an interest in folk, jazz and prog rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s?

Did you know that in the early days of the University, we had some amazing visiting bands play on campus! Some of them were big concerts such as Led Zeppelin in the Sports Hall in March 1971, followed by The Kinks in 1973.

Page of a newspaper showing an article titled The Kinks Rock on about a Kinks concert on the University of Kent campus in 1973

Article on The Kinks concert, March 1973, InCant (student newspaper)

Other bands played in Elliot or Rutherford Dining Hall, like The Yardbirds in Eliot Dining Hall in 1967, while The Gulbenkian also hosted some major artists, such as jazz legend Stan Tracey in 1970.  Some gigs were smaller, more intimate affairs, often featuring jazz and folk artists in one of the College Junior Common Rooms.

Canterbury was also an important part of the development of ‘Prog Rock’ (Progressive rock – a genre of rock music associated with experimentation and instrumentation), with the emergence of the Canterbury Scene. Many prog rock bands played on campus including Soft Machine, Caravan, and Hatfield and the North.

Two psychedelic looking figures with distorted faces, with the words Caravan and Juicy Lucy above the, and Keynes Fallout in the bottom left corner.

Poster for Caravan and Juicy Lucy – playing at the Keynes Fallourt concert. (Poster in the University Archives)

There is all this to learn and more in the archives at the University!  In preparation for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the University, we would like to offer a student volunteer placement in 2024 to help us with research in the archives into the bands and live music performances that took place on campus. This will involve looking at contemporary issues of the student newspaper and other sources to log dates, times and places for bands such as Manfred Mann, Pentangle, and Steeleye Span.

Do get in touch if you are interested in working with us on this fantastic project.