Law and Politics students visit Betteshanger Park


Law and Politics students visit Betteshanger Park

Last week, the Law and Politics Section welcomed our first-year students to CCCU with a trip to Betteshanger Country Park in East Kent. Thahmina Begum Thaniya recounts the adventure:

We began the day with a tour of The Kent Mining Museum. Built on the former Betteshanger colliery site, we were told upon our arrival that visitors would be viewing the pieces of a century-long story about the coalfield of East Kent. We were not disappointed. The museum had something to pique all our interests, whether they lay in history, geology, law, or politics. As our students moved through different sections of the museum, they encountered infographics displaying how the adoption of steam-powered vessels in the Royal Navy fuelled the British Empire in the mid-1800s, interactive screens visually presenting the formation of coal, and posters exhibiting the role of women’s groups, students’ unions, and LGBT activists in supporting striking miners at rallies during the 1980s and appealing to government decision-makers.

For our students, the experience was enriched by the presence of ex-miners who volunteered at the museum and were on hand to tell the history of the coalfield as people who lived and worked in Betteshanger. We left their company knowing more about the differences in hopes, solidarity, and outcomes between the miners’ strikes of 1972 and 1984, their encounters with English barrister Michael Mansfield, and their passionate use of the word ‘scab’ to describe fellow miners who worked during strike action. We could understand these strong sentiments after we learned that men from the Betteshanger Colliery were amongst the last to return to work in 1985.

As unions across different workforces and sectors have increasingly taken action for better pay and working conditions amidst an ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK, both staff and students were able to express their own experiences and feelings through artwork. We were given the opportunity to create posters for a cause that we believe is worth industrial action.

We ended the day with an outdoor activity of Battlezone Archery. Dividing ourselves into two teams – staff vs. students – we played a series of games using bows and arrows in the park’s woodland arena. After an hour of aiming foam-tipped arrows at our students in a socially acceptable context, the staff did unfortunately – but perhaps unsurprisingly – lose every game. We lacked in numbers and physical endurance but walked away incredibly grateful for safety equipment.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip. We hope our students feel welcome and are ready to embark on their three-year journey with us at CCCU.

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