My Blog List

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Well here I am waiting happily in the queue for a trip down the mine. Sitting in the sunshine in my jaunty red helmet and enjoying the day. No ironing for me!

It was only a drift mine and we didn't go far or for long but it was agony. We had to bend double to walk down the waggon track and keep bent over while they told us all about the long hours, the wet conditions, the darkness and the lack of a toilet. I remember my uncles would take "bait" which wouldn't go rancid in the hot conditions and they would all chew "baccy" because they couldn't smoke. The safety lamps were not bright and conditions were very gloomy.

Enough!!!", my bent back screamed after a few minutes of polite listening. "Let me out, I have ironing to do!"

D was heartily glad to stretch to his full height and step into the daylight as well. The adit opening behind him was the highest part of the mine. Unfortunately it is not possible to really go down a mine in Durham. It is possible in the National Mining Museum in Wakefield so that is now on our list of things to do.

I love researching my coal mining heritage. There is little evidence left of the mining landscape of twenty to thirty years ago. Most of the slag heaps and all of the pitheads have been reclaimed and rehabilitated. They are now attractive parts of the countryside and most have been returned to their agricultural past. The landscape and the people are now cleaner and healthier but when an ex-miner was asked, yesterday, whether he missed those days and would like them back, he said simply and genuinely...YES.

Cheers Gillian


carol said...

My father's family were miners too, in South Wales. I think they mostly got the soft options of working above ground in the offices but still there were all the horrors stories of the great disasters (which have probably contributed to my claustrophobia.) I found a site which lists all deaths from accident in the Welsh collieries from about 1820 but it also says: "As numerous as this list (over 6,000) it still represents only a small proportion of Welsh miners killed at their workplace. Although disasters are large and dramatic in number they only account for less than 17% of mining deaths in Wales. The total number (including those who died because of mining related illnesses) would be incalculable."

It seems almost unbelieveable that anyone could be nostalgic for this way of life! It must be the camaraderie, like the war.

Walled Garden said...

My great uncle was killed in a mining accident at the age of twelve. The next year my Grandfather was born and was named after him so my great grandmother had two boys she called Edward, thirteen years apart. The twelve- year-old great uncle was blamed, in the report, by the manager of the shift, for doing something he had been told not to do! No-one ever said sorry or checked the report.This is in the same stuff you have found on line. My Grandfather was gassed in WW1 (mustard gas) and was eventually given jobs "up top" like looking after the slag waggons and the pit ponies.
Ah well, Gillian