‘The Vale’ – by Steve Haywood

Musician Steve Haywood – “All of my songs have been inspired from my own experience of working down the mine, but also from the stories & discussions within the family who from Grandfather, Father & Uncles spent their working lives at the Markham Pits. Spoken of through laughter & tears these stories that are passed around even today will not be forgotten.”

‘The Vale’ – Good stories are real, the best stories are felt. It’s been my privilege to write about an industry that was at the heart of so many communities across our country and the links to other industries that no longer prevail within the area. Looking back, all nostalgia aside, the country and communities never felt closer than they did during the age of the pits.”

Play here –

The Vale

The Vale – Part 2


Lyrics – reproduced here with kind permission of Steve Haywood.

A full version of the song was performed live at the Story Mine celebration event on 18 November 2018.


The Vale

The pit bus would roll round our sleepy old town

Loaded with miners for Markham and Ireland bound

Some from the night shift, just resting their eyes

And some for the dayshift to wake ‘em


Dawn chorus of boots would echo these streets

The old motorbikes they would thunder

All down to the valley of 4000 men

Where the winding wheels beckoned o-er yonder


Then grease up your boots if you’re working in wet

And unclip your lamp from the charger

And pick up your checks for the bank-man below

We’d always remember our number


Hold down and hold up the old miners in front they said

But young men don’t listen, so we barked our shins or banged our heads

And so seeing stars, we’d head out for the cars

Or to hurl ourselves on the man- riders


The coal trains would run so steady and sure

Winding their way on the horizon

The wheels they would clatter their beat on the ties

And spark when the guard left the brakes on.


From Arkwright, to Ireland and old Markham main

Right through the Vale and to Staveley works again

Their old silent tracks now reach out to the past

As quiet as the engine smoke fading


The screens and the washers they ran night and day

(Feeding the) the smell of the coking plant not 2 miles away,

The fires in the sky when the furnaces roared

The Sheepbridge Aurora fills the night sky no more


The parks and the trails are what now remains

And in quiet reflection we walk them sometimes

The tips and the drifts they are landscaped and gone

But still in our hearts the old vale

Lingers on