Patrick Robertson holding an O2 reviver
Hi Fionn, I came across your site by chance, it’s good to see that the proud history of coal mining and the people who served in that industry is still being recorded and remembered... your site is a credit to you and your participants.
I started in the mining industry on leaving school, aged 14, my 15th birthday was in the school holidays, 1964. I started work at Solway colliery in Workington; which at that time was in the Cumberland coalfield.
I undertook training and worked on the pit top, until reaching the age of 16 and then worked underground. On reaching the age of 18, I then joined the Army and served 6 years. I returned to Workington and at this time Solway colliery was closed, this was 1973 and a lot of Cumberland miners where moving to Nottingham and other coal fields. My brother Peter, relocated to Ollerton and worked at Bevercotes colliery.
At this time there was only one mine left in Cumberland, this was Haig colliery at Whitehaven, I started at Haig in ‘73, worked there for 3 years and transferred to Winscales, mines rescue station and served as a Brigadesman for 10 years until the station closed in 1986 along with Haig colliery. Winscales was a ‘B’ scheme station, at that time: Fred Taylor was the Superintendent, Gordon Sloper, formerly of Ilkeston, was the assistant and Norman Fearon 3rd officer. We had 2 fulltime Brigades men, John Hudson and myself, Derek Norman and Hughie McClelland were day workers. Later officers were: Sam Manning, Superintendent and Alan Barker, 3rd officer.
At that time all the rescue teams were Haig men and consisted of 3 teams with back up from the north east. In 1976 the organisational side was provided from the north east. District rescue managers, in my time, were: Tom Donkin and E Farrage.
When Winscales closed I was offered a Brigadesman position at Mansfield rescue station, at the time the wife was reluctant to relocate, so I stayed in Workington and joined the fire service in 1986 at Sellafield. My previous experiences within the mines rescue service served me well. Going through the ranks I became a BA instructor Brigade training officer etc, and I retired from the Brigade in 2010. I attended the fire service college, Moreton in the Marsh on numerous courses involving breathing apparatus (BA) and including: heat and humidity training.
The Winscales Mine Rescue Station held its final night on Saturday at the Seacote Hotel, St Bees.
Pictured from left:- Gordon Robson, Pat Robertson, John Hudson, Peter Farrage (rescue stations manager) Howard Mattinson, George Mapp (Haig works manager) Joseph McMinn, Les Hall (general manager NCB rescue stations) and Sam Manning (Winscales station superintendent).
I remember my years in the mining industry with affection, the friendship and camaraderie was second to none. Community spirit was very evident. Some people cannot understand how anyone could miss working underground, believe me I would return tomorrow.
I joined the fire service in 1986 at Sellafield
I still meet up with friends that I worked with and we have a pint and shift a bit of coal . . . great days.
Keep up the good work.
Best wishes to you and your team.