- The Show
- The Idea
- The Title
After inheriting a curious gift, one man is taken on the journey of a lifetime that could shape his future and that of generations to come. This is an inspirational, unmissable musical production full of mining tradition, magic and passion.
The show truly celebrates mining heritage and demonstrates what happens when communities unite to build a better tomorrow.
The Wind Road Boys had its opening night at Sunderland Empire Theatre. The creative team and cast knew they had something special, but no one could have prepared them for the impact, or the response that the production would receive. As soon as the curtain went up it was clear this was going to be no ordinary night. The sharp intake of breath when the cast switched on their miner’s lamps in the opening number was amazing.
The audience’s eyes glistened and there was silence in the auditorium as everyone listened intently to the storyline. It was a storyline that many of the audience recognised. A story that focused on the humour, sadness and sense of loss experienced by many mining communities around the world.
On the opening night there was over one thousand audience members and as the curtain came down the cast received an immediate standing ovation. Many of the audience were crying tears of joy having been swept along by the emotional storyline and anthem-style music.
The Wind Road Boys has since toured across a number of venues in the North East. It has played in The Gala Theatre, Durham and most recently extracts were performed at Durham Cathedral.
In 2012 during an educational workshop looking at the regions heritage we discovered that despite living in the North East many of the students attending the workshop did not know very much about their mining history. As a result, we decided to use the theme of mining as the inspiration for a performance project. In so doing, we hoped to reconnect our students with their forgotten heritage, but little did we know what a fantastic journey this would prove to be, providing inspirational conversations between young and old, uniting communities and reigniting pride in family history whilst developing a greater understanding of community roots.
This project enabled students to discover and celebrate the lives of everyday men who kept our home fires burning and the women who despite difficult circumstances supported and embraced community life.
During the creation process the Enter CIC team spoke to local people who had worked in the pits. We all noticed that the men and women we spoke to remembered the mining years and associated community life with genuine affection. They all had a twinkle in their eye as they recalled stories from those bygone days. This was particularly evident in a conversation with a 90 year old miner who talked eloquently about his first time down the pit and laughed heartily as he recalled stories about his foreboding over managers and his early days working in the mines.
The professional production now known as The Wind Road Boys developed from these local community based stories coupled with factual research.
What is a Wind Road Boy?
A Wind Road Boy is another name for a Trapper. A Trapper was a child employed to work down the mines in complete darkness for up to 12 or more hours a day, every day. They would be paid only a few pence.
All they did all day was wait for the coal being brought to and fro and open and shut doors when the coal needed to get through. This job was an incredibly important job because opening and closing the doors on these coal routes also stopped gases, or firedamp, from building up and causing explosions underground.
The act of letting air flow through or not flow through the tunnels or roads of the mine like this helped to give these children, exclusively boys after 1842, the name of The Wind Road Boys.
Paul Flynn – Script, Lyrics and Music
Paul trained at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance and gained his Bachelor of Arts from Bretton Hall (University of Leeds). After a 10 year professional, international performing career, Paul began teaching Dance and Drama in Foundation, KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4/GCSE/A Level, FE and HE programmes. Paul’s performance career has spanned many years and he has worked with the country’s most innovative, leading choreographers and companies in Britain, Europe and the United States. Paul has designed and co-written a number of educational resources for teaching arts subjects in innovative ways. As a member of the Management Committee Paul also advises Enter CIC on licensing, copyright, e-Safety and he is a CEOP Ambassador.
Andrea Flynn – Director and Choreographer
Andrea trained at the Laban Centre (London) graduating with a First Class BA (Hons) Degree in Dance Theatre and an Advanced Performance Diploma. She obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Secondary Education (Drama/English) from Bretton Hall, University of Leeds and holds an MA in Professional Education from Leeds Metropolitan University. She also holds Advanced Diplomas in Mentoring and Raising Achievement in Schools and is a qualified Internal Assessor, External Moderator and Examiner for a number of Examination Boards. Andrea has been presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to regional, cultural Dance events. She has developed and coordinated creative programmes for large scale international projects in Sri Lanka. In 2010, Andrea opened an office in Ferryhill County Durham and started to work in a number of schools in Ferryhill. She noticed that a lot of young people in South County Durham had natural talent and a raw energy for the arts. Andrea recognised that whilst many of the local children clearly enjoyed the arts there was little provision for them to study it at the same level as those studying arts related subjects in the cities. As a result, she decided to develop a high quality arts provision for South County Durham that would be open to young people aged between 3 and 25. The provision would mirror the type of projects that Andrea rolls in the cities. By June 2010, Andrea (with Paul) had formed a Community Interest Company now known as Enter CIC. Andrea has trained many of today’s TV and West End stars and is well respected in the industry.
During the research phase we asked our students to find out if any of their grandparents had worked in the pits. One of our students called Ruby Willetts did just this and surprised us all with her findings.
During one of our sessions Ruby presented the staff with a green file. Imagine our surprise when we looked inside to find an array of documents from the 1950’s ranging from newspaper cuttings, letters from the National Coal Board, a letter signed by HRH Elizabeth II and, the jewel in the crown, a George Medal which had been awarded to her Grandfather Alex Gleghorn for saving lives during a mining disaster!
Our young people were amazed when they heard about Ruby’s Grandad. Stories like these are inspirational especially when they are about local people and their achievements. It is important that such stories and events are kept alive and passed from one generation to another.
The brave act of Alex Gleghorn in 1950 caught the imagination of our young people and resulted in many interesting discussions. We know Ruby and her family are very proud of her Grandfather’s act of bravery.
We would like to thank them for sharing their family history with us as it provided a vital link helping connect our young people with their past.