WHEN I was working at Coppice Colliery, near Heanor, I used to talk to many of the old men who had been miners working down the pits in their younger days and were finishing their working days on Coppice Colliery Screening Plant.
One old man said that he was working down Coppice Colliery when they were owned by Squire Miller Mundy, who was the owner of a few pits in this area. This old man also said that it was hard graft to get the coal out of the coal face by pick and shovel and they only wanted the lumps of coal, not the slack.
When the Squire died in the early 1920s he was buried not far from his home, Shipley Hall, in a private vault on Shipley Hill.
A few years after the death of the Squire, the Shipley Hall estates and the pits were sold by the Shipley Colliery Company and the company decided to save money and started cutting the trees on the estate down to make pit props for use in the collieries.
D.A. Mackie was a Scotsman who came to find work in the Derbyshire coal fields and found work at the Coppice Colliery as a miner. This was in the early 1920s. He was also very upset when he saw the damage to the wildlife and the trees that the Shipley Colliery Company were doing to the estate and especially when they started cutting the trees near to Shipley Hall.
Some time later D.A. Mackie started to write poems which were directed at the Shipley Colliery Company. After a while the company got so fed up with his poems they promptly gave him the sack, as you will see by the front page poem which goes "And for the truth my job I lost, so now the streets I roam".
However, after a while he had his poems printed by Barkers Printers of Heanor and started selling them to miners at one penny a copy. Many miners at that time were sympathetic and they too didn't like the damage the company were doing to the Shipley estate, so they bought the poems off him and this is how he lived after being sacked.
After a while the Shipley Colliery Company said that he had to be stopped, so they decided that any miner who worked at their Collieries who had any of these poems and were seen buying them would also face the sack. They also put the police onto him.
D.A. Mackie didn't want any of the miners sacked on his behalf because many of the men relied on the pits for work to get food for their families, so with the police after him he left the Heanor area and returned to Scotland.
You have got to realise that these poems were written over 70 years ago by D.A. Mackie and the damage was to trees on the Shipley Estate, near Heanor, and yet they could apply to the opencast coal sites in and around Heanor and many other areas in Derbyshire, especially this one poem which states:
Begone, begone - the cruel hands
Which laid to waste these precious lands
Your actions have aroused inhumanity
On seeing this vast cruel calamity.
The beauty spot is now
And all its natural state you've strewn.
For lust of money-wordly gain,
It makes one think that we 're not sane.
To let your evil hand destroy,
God's handiwork we'll enjoy.
I agree many times with open cast coal sites - where old pits and slag heaps have been. Places like Coppice, Woodside and Ormonde pits where the huge slag-heaps are transformed back into green fields and placed for wildlife to live in, but I cannot see the good of ripping up green fields, just as D.A. Mackie in his poems put it, 'For lust of money - worldly gain, It makes one think that we're not sane. To let your evil hand destroy, God's handiwork we all enjoy.'
How true it is in this day and age - when money comes before wildlife and the countryside.
D.A. Mackie wrote 12 poems about the Shipley Collier Company before they sacked him. He produced three issues, each containing four poems.
I have tried to get all of them but I believe that many were destroyed when the company threatened the miners with the sack if any were found in their possession, or if they bought any off him. This copy was given to me by an old miner, since passed away, and I photostated it and gave the original back. Here is the introduction to that edition:
ON this sheet just over leaf, you'll find a truthful poem,
And for the truth my job I lost, so now the streets I roam.
But I'm quite proud of what I've done, for I have made amends.
For deep within my soul I feel, I've made a thousand friends.
Now, friends, I hope you'll pardon me, should you be asked to buy
This sheet whereon a poem's wrote, who's words will never die,
So when you've bought one, frame it, and hang it on the wall.
For remembrance of the Squire, and the once glorious Shipley Hall,
And this keep too for a remembrance - this poem you have bought -
And, when thinking of the Squire, don't forget the canny Scot.
Thanks to Mapperley History