Walter Brierley was born at 96 Waingroves Road on 25th June 1900. He was the middle son of five brothers, who all worked down the pit. His father George worked as a winding engineman at Denby pit for forty-five years.
He attended Waingroves school until he was thirteen then went to work at Waingroves pit, first on the surface then a year later underground. Whilst working at the pit during the day he attended continuation classes at Waingroves school in the evening, until the strike of 1921 when the pit flooded, and never re-opened.
Walter was unemployed until he managed to find another job at Denby Colliery. He married Amy Swift in 1924 in Heage and they had a son John in January 1927.
Whilst unemployed, he had begun writing. One of his early works was a short story called “Transition” which describes a young boy’s last day at school and first day working down the pit. It is based on Walter’s own experience and he describes life in Waingroves and surrounding villages.
He was laid off work again in 1931. During his time on the dole he continued as best he could with his education. He won a Miners’ Welfare Scholarship to University College Nottingham and then twice won the Arthur Markham Prize for writing by a miner. It was his experiences as an unemployed young man on the dole queue that led him to write what is generally considered to be his best novel “Means Test Man” in 1935. The book is a portrayal of a coal miner humiliated by the means test and the effects of unemployment on a sensitive mind, a cry of pain and outrage at the indignity of no longer having status or function in the community.
Other novels by Walter Brierley included: Sandwich Man (1937), Dalby Green (1938) and
In 1936 he joined the Derby Education Authority as a welfare officer, a job he held until he retired in 1965. He died in 1972.