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The pit is now closing with one last face to be won out and is due to finish in May with the capping of the drift and ventilation shafts in August.

Page 12


12th Feb - 10 May 2002

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Thur 27 June 2002 Amazingly I have managed to get myself a job
Wed 24 July 2002 The gravel that will eventually fill the drift has arrived.
Fri 2nd August 2002 Coal production at Blenkinsopp has stopped.
Sat 24th August 2002 Mines Rescue Entrapment
Sat 24th August 2002 Wrytree is finally filled with gravel!
Sat 7th Sept 2002 Some of the last photos of Blenkinsopp
Pit Closure Part 1 Pit Closure Part 3
The Auction

 



27 June 2002

Amazingly I have managed to get myself a job although on a trial basis. It was my first attempt at trying and I was not expecting anything from it, I was more testing the waters and was ready for having to go for a few job interviews.

The job was for a welder/fabricatorwhich I had been doing for British Gas at the engineering and research station at Spadeadam. Spadeadam was home to Britains 'Blue Streak' rocket testing facility and you can still see part of the rocket at the entrance to the site. You can only get so far as most of the base is now run by the RAF as a radar and weapons range.

I went for the interview at a firm called ECM Ltd which transport cars around the country. They have 250 wagons at the minute. When the interview finished they said they would be back in contact with me but I never heard anymore from then till my wife took a call saying they wanted to see me again. I went back up to see the workshop manager and after a tour of the place and explaining what they did, he asked me when I wanted to start. Shock, horror and I was not expecting it, I had been a bit laid back about the whole thing as I was not too sure if this was what I was wanting to do.

I took the job (the first day was like going to a new school!) and even though it is a good job and well paid, I don't feel at 'home'. It might just take getting used to. At the pit you had new experiences every day, new obstacles to overcome, you moved around a lot more and you had good 'crac' and a laugh (at times). I will just have to wait and see what happens.

I was thinking more along the lines of a job connected with the mines rescue. I took a confined space course at the rescue station at Houghton to aid me before I got the job at ECM.

The managing director, David Wardle, was pleased for me and asked if I could still work weekends monitoring the shaft pumps and do the roadway dust samples so I am still in touch with what is going on at the place.

An excavator has been at work at Wrytree leveling the yard.

At the castle work has begun to scrap much of the machinery that is laying around. One of the scrap wagons even talking one of the powered roof supports !

Coal production has been very good with an average 12 shears a day. As far as I know they have 5 weeks left and on August 2nd production will cease even if the face is not won out. Something about costing too much to renew the lease. I will try to keep you up to date with what is going on till the end.


24 July 2002


Not much going on at the mine.
As you can see from the photos of Wrytree the gravel that will eventually fill the drift has arrived.

Two walls will be built not far from the drift bottom. Wrytree drift is not very long about 100 meters.

When it was first driven money was tight and after going in at a steady gradient the then owner George Wardle nearly gave up. They decided to go at a steeper angle and after a week hit the coal. . . luckily!!

It is low here about 4' 6" and a bad walk with it being so steep. In between the two walls concrete will be pumped ensuring a solid wall with the concrete filling any cavitys.

After this the gravel will be blown down till it comes to the top and then it will all be levelled off and Wrytree will be no more.

The face has been going well with 12-13 shears a day. Not long now till it is finished, August 2nd.


2 Aug 2002

Coal production at Blenkinsopp has stopped. On Saturday work will commence on removing the tunnel belt. A firm will come and take most of the machinery and didcot tube down. The other work such as removing the shaft pumps and the filling in of the drifts will be done by the men that are left who have their redundancys but have been taken back on, on a week to week basis.
All pumps have been switched off. The working I was in, 12 west, I believe is under water, with the Eimco shovel we used under water and will not be long before it reaches the Dosco dintheader which has already been under water once !
The compressor we used underground has been rigged up at Wrytree to blow the gravel in to the drift at Wrytree.
It is sad to think of all them places I worked at going underwater never to be seen again.
I will keep you informed of what is going on.

I see on your site you have some photos from Joel. He took some really good photos although I was a bit surprised when he was taking photos of the sinks, etc. I thought at the time he had a reason for it and sure enough he sent me an e mail saying a gallery was showing the photos but none of the men that he had taken. For me the memory of the place lie in the men that worked there not some old lockers or dirty sinks. Although some of the 'crac' that the men had were at them sinks so maybe in a few years time I will look at them in a different way. Mind you I am not sure what a gallery makes of them.
When I first went to Blenkinsopp there was only two showers heated by an immersion heater so you can imagine the rush to the showers at the end of the shift. I have seen 5 men getting showered in one shower. When you drop your soap you leave it !


24 Aug 2002

Wrytree is finally filled with gravel!

The old offices are now gone and the whole photo looks very different to the first one I sent. Which seems a long time ago !
These photos were taken about a week ago and the Castle side is now filled up and is just waiting to be capped off. Work will then commence on filling the shaft up at Smallburn.


It has been capped off with a block wall which I will get a photo of. This is the machine which blows the gravel down the pipe.


Seeing the place full of gravel brings it all home to you, knowing the fact all them places you worked at will never be seen again.
Sad. It is a feeling you cannot really describe.
People keep saying you are better out of the place, but if someone said it was going to open back up I would be one of the first back, with a chisel and hammer knocking the wall down.


I think one of the biggest compliments I have heard about the mine was from two ex NCB miners who had a look round.
They come out impressed with the place and said

'Would put a lot of NCB pits to shame, that would".

They were not too impressed with the walk out however ! Demolition work of the screens at the castle begins shortly.





Mines Rescue Entrapment.

My mines rescue pager was finally handed back, thankfully never used and so ends a short time in the mines rescue, although I hope will come in handy in the future. I still need to go back for my first aid refresher every three years so I will still keep in touch with the station.


07 Sep 2002

Some of the last photos of Blenkinsopp


As you can see from the photos the final stages of the closure is going on.

The drift entrance is now sealed by a block wall and the tunnel belt, which led to the crusher house is now filled in. You can just see the tunnel to the left of the first photo and to the right in the 2nd.

I had a fire in here one night when I was a bank lad loading the set for the night shift. I turned round and saw smoke billowing out. Nothing too serious,thankfully. The next two photos show the drift entrance,I wonder how many people have walked in and out of here in it's long history.

The view all those years ago might not have been too different. You can just see, although it is hidden a bit by a tree, the small castle like turret to the left of the entrance. There used to be another on the other side but has fallen over. It just shows the detail they had when they built it.


The yard looks a bit bare now and is very quiet which is what you notice most. There used to always be something going on. Now, nothing. no sets wizzzing up and down. No forklift running. No wagons being loaded. Nobody shouting "what's the matter with the belts" or " what is the weather like". Funnily enough the under manager always said it was raining !!

Smallburn shaft should be filled in and a demolition firm is coming in to knock the plant and didcot tube down soon. I have been away working in Coventry for the week so I have not seen what is going on. If I get some more info I will send it on.

Here is a notice that was hung up in the deputys cabin.

I, the willing,
Led by the ignorant,
Am doing the impossible,
For the ungrateful,
I have done so much,
For so long,
With so little,
That I am now highly qualified,
To do anything,
With nothing.

It applied a lot to Blenkinsopp!