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Dr. Colin Pounder

Ilkeston - Heanor Area
Colin Pounder

Norman Street Pit, Cotmanhay 1926.
'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?' Matthew 10:29


The Scripture teacher read from Matthew, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? Just think boys in those times some people were so poor they ate sparrows!"

During the 1926 strike my Granddad Isaac Pounder of 117 Norman Street caught sparrows until he had enough for my Grandma to make a pie to feed the children.

The garden behind 117 Norman Street stretched down to the wall between it and Granby Pit. Top Hard coal seam is about thirty feet down in this vicinity. Tom Pounder, then about 12 years old, and a mate decided to help out during the 1926 strike by digging a coal pit at the bottom of the garden. After a morning they were down about two feet! A few striking colliers turned up, asked what they were doing, and joined in and in due time reached coal at about thirty feet down.

Strikers Norman Street Pit

This unique photograph shows the men and their mine when it was fully operational. The caption shows what is what and who is who. Coal merchants lorries would arrive at dusk to buy coal. Isaac Pounder disapproved of the whole enterprise and refused to allow any of the coal on his fire. 

There are two lamps in the photograph. The one in front of Bill Arabin is a Clanny lamp used in addition to providing a light to also test for gas. The one in front of Ernie Arabin is a Carbide Lamp!!!

When gas was detected the children had to wait at the top of the shaft while a bucket was lowered on a rope. When it was hauled up, apparently empty, they had to run with it and tip it under the hedge. This continued until the gas level had fallen.

The roof of the gate was propped with legs off furniture and any wood which could be found. I judge that the direction of the gate and the gobbings was towards and under Norman Street. Two reasons being that they kept out of Granby Colliery property and one night the children in bed in 117 heard a tremendous crack as the bedroom ceiling settled down to rest on the open bedroom door. Their father inspected this and told everyone never to try and close the door.

Granby Park, Cotmanhay Road 2005

Granby Park, Cotmanhay Road in about 2005 is the main site of Granby Colliery. Charlotte Street was known in my Grandparents day as Engine Lane. A tramway ran along what is now Cotmanhay Road to further Granby shafts on what is now Portland Road.

To the left in this photograph is Norman Street. To the left of the curved steps of the childrens' climbing frame and slide was a covered shaft, slightly sunken sixty years ago. Through the second tripod legs of the first set of swings is a pollarded tree. This is against an entrance into the park, opposite Ebenezer Street. Entering the park through that entrance a second shaft is about twenty feet in from Cotmanhay Road and on the right hand side. Sixty years ago it was fenced in and slowly sinking. The whole area was fenced and dug out, presumably to examine the shaft covering, and for a time all was flat and covered with grass. Then it began to sink again. The whole area was again dug out and a more reliable cap put on the shaft top.

Through the swing tripod on the right is a seat and the rooftops of newish houses across Cotmanhay Road can be seen. These are on the site of allotments in which where two stones, like those in Miscellaneous in the Jitty behind Granby School. Mine shaft covered in concrete 1910. They were very obvious from the top deck of a bus. Then one day all the hedges in the old allotments had been torn down and the two gritstone posts had been drawn out of the ground. Soon afterwards they disappeared. Houses were built over them.

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Pit Terminology - Glossary