Pitman’s Parliament Project (2019)

The Pitman’s Parliament Project saw brass musicians Ian Sankey, Clara Hyder, and Martin Thomson, working together with pupils from two primary schools in Durham.

Together, the group charted a course through the history of Durham’s coalfield, from the discovery of sea coal, through monasteries, the industrial revolution, and into the future. The Parliamentary Archives visited Durham Redhills, with a facsimile copy of the 1842 Mines and Collieries Act, which set the minimum age for children working in the mines at 10 years old.

Although 10 years is very young to start working in a mine, the introduction of a minimum age at all was a huge step in the right direction – and, inspired by this attempt to make things better for everyone, the children decided to put forward their ideas for ways to make things better today. Together, they created an incredible performance which culminated in the unveiling of their own Act of Parliament:

“And so it be enacted:
that every person is equal and deserves respect and an opinion;
that we stop hunger and drought;
that you should not need citizenship or a visa to live in the UK;
that everyone takes care of the world to stop global warming;
that no-one should harm animals;
that we are respectful, independent, and compassionate to a community to make a peaceful world.”