Poet to sing pit evictions verse

Folk singer, poet and author John Hegley
Folk singer, poet and author John Hegley

The story of miners who were ejected from their homes by coal bosses will be told as part of Wakefield Lit Fest.

Performance poet John Hegley will sing a verse he has penned about the 1905 Kinsley Evictions, at Hemsworth Library later this month.

The London-based songwriter was inspired to write the piece after receiving a book of postcards on the infamous evictions, from a local historian and fan of his work.

Around 100 miners and their families were kicked out of homes in a bitter dispute lasting three years. The community helped to support them by setting up a camp full of tents.

Mr Hegley said: “I was very taken with the way these postcards told the story and also with the story itself.

“It seemed as though people had really rallied to help those evicted and all felt the cause was just.”

Mr Hegley will perform the poem in a free event on September 23 at 11am.

And he also hopes to find out more about the evictions and talk to people whose family members experienced it.

He first did a reading of the piece as part of an event at Unity Works in Wakefield, with A Firm of Poets last year.

But he has since added more lyrics, and this will be the first time it is performed in full.

He said: “I wanted to come and do this poem in the area where the evictions happened.”

Mr Hedley went to university in Bradford and first visited Wakefield in 1973 to see a folk singer.

He said: “I love coming up to West Yorkshire and I feel very at home in the area.

“I hope this is going to be an event of interest to local people.”

The Lit Fest event will also include readings of Mr Hegley’s other work, including around the theme of families. And he will also talk about his father, who was born in the same year the evictions took place.

The event is part of one of four themed days at this year’s Lit Festival. Poetry for the People, on September 23, is a day of poetry and spoken word, which organisers Beam and A Firm of Poets promise will be “urgent, funny and entertaining”.

To see the full line-up, visit www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk