Kent's mining history uncovered with multimillion pound museum

Kent's mining history is explored in the new museum Credit: ITV Meridian

A £1.7 million museum and £6 million visitor centre celebrating Kent's mining history has opened.

The Kent Mining Museum at Betteshanger Country Park reflects the discovery of coal in the county in 1890 and the journey to establish four successful Colleries in East Kent.

Betteshanger, home to 1,500 minters, was the largest Kent mine and first reached coal in 1927.

The three other Colleries were at Tilmanstone, Chislet, Snowdown.

It was the last of the Kent pits to close in 1989, following national strikes in 1984 and 1985, as demand for coal reduced.

  • Stuart Elgar explains his connection to the Kent's mining history

"Without the support of the ex-mining community, funders, staff and the dedicated team at Quinn Estates we would not be where we are today, and we are grateful to everyone for their support and passion", says Stuart Elgar who also chairs the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation.

"We are incredibly proud to be telling the story of the Kent Coalfield and those who lived and worked in it.

"This museum isn’t about a nostalgia trip for elderly miners or their children - it’s for our grandchildren and future generations.

"The story of the 5,000 or so migrating miners is unique in the British coalfields, and it is important that it is kept alive."

It wasn’t until 1912 that four successful East Kent Colleries were established Credit: ITV Meridian

The museum has been funded and created with help from the National Lottery Fund and the Quinn Estates.

It's free to enter and is designed to educate, inform and challenge perceptions about Kent's mining heritage.

Mark Quinn, CEO of Quinn Estates, said, "The Kent Mining Museum is of huge importance to the local community, and the UK’s coal mining heritage.

"That’s why telling Betteshanger’s story was an absolute priority for us when we took over the ownership of Betteshanger Country Park, and helping to get the museum project get back on track with the collective help of the National Lottery and the mining community has been an honour."