Echoes of Protest


Echoes of Protest is a collaborative research project by Esther Johnson and Debbie Ballin

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ is an exhibition of work that has been created as part of this research. Project items include:

· 26′ audio documentary by Johnson and Ballin
· photographic series by Johnson
· 12-page newspaper The People’s Echo by Johnson and Ballin
· curated selection of artefacts from project contributors and from the People’s History Museum and National Coal Mining Museum for England collections


This project is supported by the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. Further support has come from the People’s History Museum, Manchester, and National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield.

Yorkshire Post

Quays News

Exhibition and opening event at National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield 2016
National Coal Mining Museum for England collection items
Exhibition at People's History Museum, Manchester 2015
People's History Museum collection items

The initial element of the Echoes of Protest project is an exhibition and body of work titled A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’

“We got presents that were donated….
I got a little cheap plastic watch and a coat that my auntie had made,
but I just didn’t even care ’cos I was having so much fun.”
Sam, Miner’s Daughter aged 15 during the strike

It’s Christmas 1984. Sam, Gayle, Jayne and Craig are the children of striking miners.
During the Miners’ Strike, the Thatcher government paid pensioners the same £10 Christmas heating bonus they had received since 1972. A nationwide appeal, in several national newspapers, invited pensioners to give up their bonus in support of the striking miners. Hundreds of pounds worth of bonuses were donated to support this cause.

This is the story of how acts of generosity by total strangers made Christmas possible for striking families that year, and what it was like for children such as Sam, Gayle, Jayne and Craig, to grow up in the shadow of the Miners’ Strike.

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ by artist and filmmaker Esther Johnson, and filmmaker and writer Debbie Ballin, bears witness to the untold stories of children of the strike. The exhibition includes a poetic-audio documentary, photography and artefacts from the strike.

This exhibition is part of a wider research project titled Echoes of Protest, investigating the legacy of being involved in significant protest movements from a child’s perspective. The project aims to understand the role protest can play in the lives of children, and to explore its aftermath.

Gallery Exhibitions

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield 12.11.16–18.01.17
The People’s Archive: Untold Stories of the Miners’ Strike
National Coal Mining Museum for England Exhibition Opening, 13:00–16:00, 12.11.16, with artist introduction, speaker sessions, live music and Christmas Tree lights switch on
Christmas Wishes workshop 13:00–16:00, 10.12.16
A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ People’s History Museum, Accumulator Gallery, Manchester 05.12.15–18.01.16
PHM Exhibition Opening 12:00–15:30, 06.12.15, with artist introduction and live performance of traditional colliery band music, Miners’ hymns and Christmas carols by Salford Brass

Conference, Symposia and Seminars

A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ research presentation at Durham Miners’ Association Durham Miners’ Hall, Redhills, Durham 08.07.16
Echoes of Protest research presentation within seminar Social Haunting: The Psycho-Social Impact of the Miners’ Strike at With Banners Held High 2016 Unity Works, Wakefield 05.03.16
Echoes of Protest Art and Design Research Centre Seminar, Sheffield Hallam University 17.02.16


Johnson, E., Ballin, D. (2017) ‘Voices from the Strike’, in Allsop, D., Stephenson, C., and Wray, D. (eds.) Justice Denied: Friends, Foes and the Miners’ Strike London: Merlin Press pp.64–76, ISBN 978-0-85036-730-0

Johnson, E., Ballin, D. (2016) ‘Echoes of Protest: untold stories of the 1984–1985 UK Miners’ Strike’, in Oral History Spring 2017, Volume 45, pp.100–110, ISSN 0143 0955

Johnson, E., Ballin, D. (2016) The People’s Echo 12-page newspaper published to accompany the exhibition A share of a pensioner’s Christmas ‘Bonus’ at the National Coal Mining Museum for England

The People's Echo, 2016