Memories

Dean Bradley Tally No 441 Locker No 1362.

The miners got from the pithead baths into the drift by means of a tunnel which led under/over the road running directly through the colliery site. On either side of the tunnel where the paddy operated were two doors each side. The rails for transporting the coal extended out into the yard, also materials had to be taken down the drift. The railway extended out, sloping upwards, taking the coal to the storage unit. On entering the drift the men would pass through what was the "tally cabin" where the tally, confirmimg the men had arrived for work, was placed in a can (probably an old snap can). These would then be taken back to the control unit, after the men went into the drift for their shift until they returned after their shift. They had two talliess, the second the men would attach to their belts to be worn at all times, as identification whilst working underground. After their shift they would drop these tallies into the can they would then be taken back to the control unit, checked against tally no. 1 showing that all the miners were present and correct. These were then hung up (one round, one square), placed one on top of the other until they were used again in the same way the following day.

If the lads were asked to stay over-time it was the deputy's responsibility to inform the tally men that a few of the men would be late coming up. In the eventuality that this message had not been received and one tally was missing, one man, then immediately the underground telephone would be contacted from the control unit to find out what was happening. In the unfortunate case of a miner having been hurt, or worse, then he would immediately be searched for.

The lamp cabin was situated between the baths and the drift where all the men would pick up their lamps. The men would have an ordinary lamp but the deputy would have what was called a "striker" in theirs and the lamp could be re-lit. They would have to go to the main intake to re-light the lamp because of the danger of explosion. The lamp cabin had an "in-out" entrance. Adjacent to this was the cabin in which the explosives were kept for blasting out the coal. One miner accidentally fell onto one of these and had a serious injury to his rear. Name withheld. Surrounding the tunnel area was the stock yard for storing coal.

After the shift the men would reverse their journey, arriving back in the baths leave their work clothes in the "dirty" lockers, pick up their soap, shampoo, deodorant and towel, shower, then wearing flip flops they would pick up their clean clothes from the clean lockers and go out through the control room where all the tallies were kept and if all had gone as it should both tallies would be there ready for the next day.

The men had on their belts a self-rescuer which if in danger, such as the pit filling with carbon monoxide (a killer gas) they could insert the mouthpiece and inhale carbon dioxide (for a time) allowing them to scramble to a safer area and hopefully be rescued. The items they carried on their belts were, their lamp, tool belt, the said respirator and of course the miners helmet was worn at all times whilst underground. There were two lights in the lamps, the main light and the back up light.

Dean worked at Kiveton pit from 1980 (worked through the strike 184/5, canaries were still being used at that time as a means of detecting methane gas, thus ensuring the men's safety. Dean keeps canaries as did his granddad Sam before him, who also worked down the mine for the biggest part of his life, having broken his back into the bargain, his brother John was blinded at work down the mine. Sam told us he had enjoyed every working minute of his life underground.

Dean went to work every day without so much as a whinge. Days regular starting at 5am. As a loving mum I was horrified when he began his training (second to none) down at Treeton colliery but have to admit that the man that emerged at the end of it was evident and I am so proud that he was a miner. Salt of the earth.

B Bradley