Surveying Jobs (Mainly Underground and Surface)
A Unique History From My Work Diaries
No4 Sub-Area, No4 Area, East Midlands Division, NCB from 1st January 1947
The Office block was built in 1870 for the staff of the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd
Ground floor: Manager’s Office, Chief Clerk Jack Limmer, Training Officer Jack Clews, Safety Officer Fred Daft, Fire Officer Mod Jones and Ventilation Officer Jack Barker.
Prior to Survey offices being created at Pleasley (1954), Silverhill and Sutton (1955/56) when the staff moved to their respective colliery accommodation all Survey staff worked from this building and only attended their relevant colliery to carry out survey duties underground or surface or when sent for by the relevant Manager or others.
First Floor: A large office at one end of the corridor with 2 large tables, one shared by the Sub-Area Surveyor, the Lady Tracer and Silverhill Surveyor and his Assistant and Apprentice and the other table for Pleasley Surveyor and Teversal Surveyor and their Assistants and Apprentices, plus there was a large print room attached and at the other end of the building was a further Office with a medium sized table for the Surveyor for Sutton Colliery and his Assistant and Apprentice.
It was in this room where we had our half hour snap time and played a few hands of cards, a game called Crash and for the first two weeks I got fleeced every day until the penny dropped and I was as smart if not smarter than them and began to win. Throughout the years a game of cards at lunch time made the mind sharper for the afternoon session. When I became a boss we played Cribbage, Solo and others but probably the game I loved most was Black Maria because it was exciting. All my Assistants and Apprentices were taught these games with the object of me trying to take money off of them. I was always pleased when they started to win because I knew then that they were thinking sharper like I did years before.
The Sub Area Surveyor had a small personal Office within the large Office. There was a steel set of 100 pigeon holes along one wall to hold all the plans that were rolled up and drawers in the tables for plans that were to be kept flat.
There were only 4 stools, one for each Surveyor and one chair for the Sub Area Surveyor in his small office, so everyone else had to stand up, generally leaning on the table to do jobs.
There was a bathroom adjacent with bath and WC and 5 small wooden lockers, one for each of the Surveyors and Sub Area Surveyor.
Office jobs consisted of drawing, tracing, calculations of surveys and levellings, copying up underground work into office books, plotting, construction of plans and sections, use of printing machine, measuring and plotting and preparing plans of serious incidents and accidents including fatal accidents, Working plan, Support plans, Ventilation plans, Rescue & Fire-fighting plans, Deputy’s Districts, Means of Egress, Dust Zones, Conveyors, Electrical plans, Haulages, Surface plans and Dirt tips, Boreholes and geological information, SM1 forms from Surveyor to Manager informing him of hazards such as old workings, gas, water etc, Mining reports, yearly scaling of workings to calculate tonnages for various Parishes ,making notices, attending meetings, using the printing machine and colouring by paint or pencils or stippling various prints of negatives, plus other numerous tasks …. such as answering numerous queries or mainly taking messages by using the Ericsson wall mounted telephone with ear flaps and wallowing handle connected to the colliery switch board. There was one ordinary telephone but no dial and that was also connected to the colliery switchboard situated in the Power House.
Other miscellaneous duties included making the fire before the bosses arrived and dampening it down at knock off, but not a minute before, removing the table dust covers first thing and covering the tables at shift end, plus tea mashing and cleaning up, printing for everyone etc,.
On Saturday morning two linesmen from each colliery came to the office from the 4 pits to make up several copies of the progress plans with up to date coal face and heading positions measured the day before, plus the 3 men at each pit. My task on Saturdays besides any job I had been given from any of the Surveyors was to mash tea for all using a tea pot that held 7 cups. Including everyone there was a complement of 22 so I had to mash 3 times and wash the cups also in between.