Tales of the Unexpected - Page 1
1960's - At Bentinck Colliery a pony was hurt down the pit and was brought out to the surface for treatment and convalescence. The Ganger who was in charge of the pony was teased greatly, by the other Gangers, who told him that the pony was going to be put down at the knackers yard and made into glue!
He was most upset and believed them and so he took the pony home with him in order to protect it, of course, fortunately, it was only a gag.
(Tale related by Steve Parr)
1960s - Thoresby Colliery. Whilst attempting to turn a pony round near the loader gate lip the ganger and another crossed the conveyor signal bell wires to stop the belt and there would be a continuous ringing sound at the transfer point and the attendant after stopping the belt would wait until the ringing stopped before starting the belt up again. Whilst the pony was being turned in the restricted space having got its front legs on the conveyor the twisted bell wires came loose and the ringing stopped and the attendant assuming all was well started the conveyor moving again. Unfortunately when the belt started the pony panicked, reared up, spun round and raced under the 6 feet high ripping lip and blindly ran through the packhole and then into the gobbing where it appeared to get firmly wedged in a tight space. The ganger and others by now were thinking how to get the pony to reverse and turn it round but by now the Deputy had appeared on the scene and after a careful look at the situation declared that the roof appeared to be unsafe and nobody was to go into the gobbing. The pony was abandoned no doubt taking a while to die but men's lives were more valuable. (story related by Tom Hurt).
Another incident happened at Thoresby around this time again related by Tom Hurt when he was working on Top Hard 16s Face. A packer was taking dirt and coal off the face belt to build a pack. A very large lump came towards him and as he tried to lift it off the conveyor the lump pinned him to the pack wall. He was almost ‘flattened’ according to witnesses and the ambulance man on the face was called but there appeared to be no sign of life. A team of men quickly organised a stretcher party to take the ‘body’ out of the pit and covered him up with a blanket. They carried the stretcher part of the way then decided to put the stretcher on the conveyor belt to transport it outbye. Two or three of the men were on the belt in front and Tom Hurt was riding behind when suddenly the blanket moved and a hand appeared reaching out and frightened the life out of Tom. The man had been completely knocked out and winded by the incident but had suddenly recovered and had moved the blanket as he wondered where he was. He made a full recovery but the tale was remembered vividly by all.
1959 /60 - I was on the day shift on the loader gate rip of APD ('A' Panel Development) in Gedling Colliery with four other men. Whilst in the pack hole I heard a commotion and lots of shouting. I then saw a pony on top of the ripping heap before it turned and disappeared. Later the deputy came and told us that the animal was dead and we had to stop overtime to load the carcass for removal to the surface. The horse had not been underground very long and was quite nervous. When the ganger had got to the end of the rails he had unhitched the cotter pin to the limmers and at the time the conveyor belt was standing. When the conveyor belt started the animal spooked and ran forward and up on top of the ripping heap. Those in the road way managed to avoid being hit by the pony. It then ran back past the tubs and down the gate in total darkness for approximately 600 yards. On the side of the conveyor drive a winch protruded which was used for tightening the conveyor belt. The deranged beast struck his head on the protrusion and broke it’s neck. When we started work to remove the horse we firstly removed the limmers, turned a Morris Tub on it’s side and placed a lagging board with one end on the tub side and the other under it’s back, placing a chain under the body. With a pull lift we slowly eased the horse onto the tub. Another chain was attached to the tub side and using both pullies raised the tub and the horse in unison until the horse slid into the tub with it’s feet in the air. Our team then went home leaving the next shift to get the tub to the pit bottom. I think that was the last horse to die in Gedling pit. At one time there used to be 153.
(Story related by Alan Beales)
26 Jul 1961 – Jack, a chestnut pit pony at Pleasley, refused to be captured after a week above ground during the pit holiday. The horse was pursued by the police and local residents but Jack also evaded capture when a few miners went to the village cricket ground to capture him. He jumped over a fence and careered down the streets and trampled through gardens in a bid for freedom. Finally the pony was trapped in a field where a policeman shot the animal. It was the only thing that could be done, said an official at the pit.
1960s – 1990s – Do Cats Have 9 Lives? These are tales from Bilsthorpe Colliery related by Brian Jackson, Electrical Charge Engineer.
- A cat was found clinging to the Pit Top Baulks just below the running on level. A fitter climbed down to try and rescue it, however the cat seeing an open black space decided to spring across the gap but missed and fell down the shaft some 500 metres deep. The cat was found dead on the pit bottom sump boards but appeared to be still in one piece but every bone in it’s body was broken.
- Another cat was found clinging to the Monkey platform on the coal skip. It is thought that there had been numerous winds up and down the shaft and eventually the cat was recovered by someone and it groggily walked away obviously in a state of shock from it’s frightening ordeal. How it got into this position was unknown.
- One day the electrical charge engineer was in the winding engine house at No 2 Shaft when there was a definite clonking noise and the engine which had been installed and obtained from Ormonde Colliery momentarily stalled. Upon examination it was found that a cat had been crushed between the underlap winding rope and the drum. Again how the cat became in that position was unknown, possibly it had been resting there.
1981 - Again at Bentinck Colliery a miner who's nick name was ‘Fluke’ took a lurcher pup down the pit, on the night shift, unknown to all, to 76's Black Shale Panel. It was only part way through the shift when the other members of the packing team noticed that there was a strange noise and then found out that it was the puppy barking. It transpired that ‘Fluke’ was quite happily throwing small stones in the Loader Gate Pack Hole for the dog to retrieve. Everyone was flabbergasted and wondered how on earth he had managed to smuggle the dog into the pit in the first place - Could this have been classified as ‘Contraband’?
(Tale related by Steve Parr)