1986 - Page 26
I was appointed temporary Surveyor in October then 11 Deputy Surveyors (Senior Assistants) in North Nottinghamshire Area plus me and one Unit Surveyor were interviewed for the post of Surveyor and being last at number thirteen I thought I had nought to lose and answered the questions with an air of nonchalance but I was successful and ‘easily outshone the others’, quotes by Arthur Morley the Area Chief Surveyor and David Rodden the General Manager.
Rodden told me that he had awarded me a triple increment onto the new grade just implemented and was appointed from 1st December 1971.
I was interviewed for a senior position some 18 months later by Keith Shaw DCME but was unsuccessful on that occasion.
Little did I know that I would be Surveyor at Ollerton for 15 years and the longest serving in that position.
Another thing that I could predict to a certain degree was forward ground movement underground (interaction) when working the Parkgate seam, having had a great deal of experience at Teversal where three seams had been worked with a couple of seams worked below from Silverhill and Sutton.
I established bench marks in some old Top Hard roadways and although the later Parkgate workings were 180m below great damage was done and Frank Lee the Area Planning Engineer came with me on a couple of occasions to note the distortion of the supports and closure of the roadways until it became unsafe when the roadways were sealed off.
Most men who had only worked at Ollerton had never known interaction before as only one seam had been worked so it was a new experience. They did not realise that Parkgate working below could be affected by the Top Hard workings and pillars above as well. However there were some very bad gates at Ollerton due to working close to neighbouring panels. Various pillar widths between panels were tried in Top Hard. Anyway I was able to advise the Undermanager beforehand that possible problems lay ahead and extra timber etc could be transported in or other precautions could be taken.
I dictated that all the staff personnel including linesmen would have in their possession a pouch made from belting containing a 10m or 20m steel tape, a short steel retractable tape 2m or 3m, a line bubble, a length of millband, some shotfiring wire, some red reflector clips, a plastic protractor with in-built bubble and device for showing approximate gradient, some chalk, notebook and pencil.
Everyone was trained in the use of the oil lamp for testing for gas, checked and authorised to carry re-lighter flame lamps for use on surveying duties.
Hours of underground staff 7.00am to 2.30pm.
The Supervisory Surveyor’s Assistant (WPIS) weekly paid industrial staff was to work 5 days per week 7.30am to 3.30pm and short shift on Saturday and organise routine work for underground staff:-
- To assist surveyors on all tasks including theodolite and dial surveys and levellings and accurate measuring and accompany and train apprentices as and when required.
- To carry out survey duties as required including instrument work on dial and level and measuring etc.
- To organise check lines on all coal faces and interpretation and collate information to distribute to higher management and Under-officials so that immediate action could be taken to straighten face lines or prevent panzer creep (usually by pushing the gate that the panzer was creeping to).
- To collate all weekly face and heading advances for payment purposes from measurements taken by underground linesmen.
Dougie did this every Monday morning and the Line lads clocked on at 4am in order to measure the headings and faces and coal and dirt sections before the dayshift started. Umpteen other measurements were phoned out such as mentioned.
It worked better than before when the measurements were done on a Friday night as any work done at the weekend was included. Before changing to Monday I was often asked by the Undermanager or Assistant Manager to mortgage the advances but I never would.
I had a blackboard made and put on the office wall and gridded out for all panels and headings and every week the up to date measurements were written in chalk and last weeks also. Taking away the measurements gave you the distance advanced that week.
There was a total measurement column and a finishing mark, so taking away the measurements again told one how far the panel or heading had to go.
There were another two columns, one with a measurement of the last survey and one for the last levelling.
Again doing the arithmetic one knew when the next survey could be planned to keep to the 100m advance as required by the Surveyors’ Code of Practice.
The system worked well. All who came into the office only had to glance at the board which was in sight from the telephone also and instantly they could work out for themselves what measurement they needed.
It saved hours of work allowing all my team to carry on with what they were doing, instead of breaking off to answer questions.
We became very efficient and it then gave us all time to relax eventually as each task was ticked off as all open gates were levelled polygonally and all surveyed by theodolite and measured by the catenary method.
I have always been a ‘yesterday’s man’. Why not do it straight away instead of leaving it till tomorrow.
Surveys done that day were copied up, calculated and plotted before knock off. Any query could be remembered as it was fresh in your mind.
The tables were always cleared before we went home, plan work put in a ‘work in hand’ drawer and then the cleaning ladies were able to wipe the tables down as necessary and wash the net curtains I put up, when necessary.
I didn’t like living in a goldfish bowl like at some other pits.
As we got on top of our work we then found time to have a quick game of cards at lunch time. It was my turn now to try to take money off my Assistants and Apprentices. Like me they soon learned how to avoid it. As I found in my youth that break at snap time kept your mind active. However we were always available to do jobs for anyone in that time if necessary.
I had to sack 6 line lads over my tenure for various things such as booking and falsifying measurements, non-attendance, idleness etc. It was not nice but necessary.
Apprentices, and I have had many ‘pass through my hands’, very rarely had to ask what they were doing the next day. Generally they were down the pit for half a shift then after lunch half a shift doing office work.
It is the only way to learn quickly and be proficient and they then realised how quickly they progressed in using the instruments, calculating and plotting what they had done.
After a short time they were able to do surveys and levellings on their own.
I was more or less taught like that and I was pleased that when they left me to go to another pit after 12 months they could do most jobs according to their length of service.
There was an old wartime air raid shelter at the back of the office block and it was an ideal site for every apprentice I had and with a couple of linesmen to do a closed survey with a dial and then a theodolite by going in one downward drift entrance and coming out the other, then tying the bases up.
It was pitch black in there just like underground and one needed cap lamps and oil lamps.
They all did well and it was easy for me just to pop in now and then to see how they were coping and to give them some advice if they were struggling. It was an ideal place to learn how to do a levelling survey also.
All the Apprentices used the same survey stations so it was easy for me to see whether they had done the job properly and whether the calculation of the results were correct.
I set up a series of marks on the wall to assimilate seam sections so that linesmen could practice before measuring down the pit because that meant going on the face side of the panzer in a danger area and you don’t want to be learning how to measure in that situation.
It was all so much easier in the past with handfilling methods. Everyone coming to work for me had the ‘questionnaire’.
I needed to know what they knew and I insisted they told me the truth so that if they didn’t know how to do something they were shown how to.
There were numerous questions on the sheet such as could they use log tables, calculate various surveys, use a level, use a dial, use a theodolite etc, etc.
Had they ever been in charge of a job etc, etc ? and I never found out till I left work that they called it ‘Bob’s Full House’ named after a TV show of that era presented by Bob Monkhouse.
I Was Quite Amused
One Apprentice, who shall remain nameless came from Rufford, told me that he could use the theodolite etc so the next day I sent him off down the pit escorted by a couple of line lads of course to do a survey of about 4 settings in an Airway.
He came staggering out of the pit just as I was ready for leaving for home just before 5pm.
It had taken him 3 hours to take the first angle.
It appeared that he had never done a job on his own or organised one and had always had someone to hold his hand and do the booking.
He had to do everything, organise the settings, make sure that the lamps at each station were visible and steady, book and check the readings, etc, etc.
The Lads Got 2 Hours Overtime.
He never told me he could do something again without checking with me or my Deputy.
He has never forgotten it...you never do as I remember from my early days on the job.
As you have seen I had a very busy and successful job and looking back I loved every minute.
I see some of my old Apprentices on occasion and I am proud to note that most have been able to obtain good jobs and I like to think I had a bit to do with it.
The Duties And Job Description For a Lady Tracer
The duties and job description for a Lady Tracer:
- Plan preparation by tracing
- use of stencils and pens
- printing using ammonia printing machine and colouring prints using inks, watercolours and pencils
- preparing ozaloft copies
- revision of negatives and prints
- referencing plans and storage
- stencilling notices and ancillaries for all departments
- revision of Rescue and Firefighting plans
- keep a check on stationery items and order replacement items as and when required following authorisation
- filing correspondence
- covering and stencilling book titles
- indexing and storage
- telephone duties
- taking and sending messages
- noting messages from other sources when all surveyors are out of the office either in a meeting, on the surface or underground
- miscellaneous duties and preparation of hot drinks etc for staff and visitors.
To attend 5 days a week, hours 8.30am to 4.30pm including a lunch break.
Hours for office staff 8.30am to 4.30pm or other should conditions require it.
Normally 5 days a week but could include Saturday morning or other times if necessary for special jobs.
Qualified Assistant Surveyors and Deputy to be available at all hours in the event of major accidents or fatalities, as per the Surveyor.
Most workmen particularly rippers and Underofficials saw us put a chalk mark on the arches and they thought then that when we made our way out of the pit that was it for the day. If only they had known.