Information and photographs submitted by subscribers are posted in good faith. If any copyright of anyone else's material is unintentionally breached, please email me

Keith Fletcher - Coal Mining Memories

I am the last of a long line of generations of South West Durham miners - Page 3

Page     1    2     3     4     5     6  

Further Education and Apprenticeship Programmes

Whilst I was in the coal industry a body (The Mines Qualifications Board)1 set two colliery management exams.  It also set the educational qualifications and practical experience a candidate should have1 before he could apply to sit each category of those exams.  One exam led to the Second-Class Certificate of Competency1 - the Under Manager’s Certificate.  The second led to the First-Class Certificate of Competency2 - the Managers Certificate.  Entrants with the necessary qualifications and practical experience could take and pass the “Manager’s exam” without ever sitting the “Under Manager’s exam”.

The NCB had Further Education Schemes under which its employees could study.  Local Technical Colleges ran courses leading to the Ordinary National Certificate a (ONC) and Higher National Certificate (HNC).  The students could take evening courses leading to the ONC and HNC.  The last year of the ONC course was also available by Day Release.  The subjects taken in the final examination for Ordinary National Certificate in Mining were:-

  • Mathematics
  • Mining Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Science
  • Electrical Engineering Science

ONC and HNC courses in surveying were available to NCB employees who were training to become Mine Surveyors 3.

Polytechnic Colleges ran Sandwich Courses b for NCB employees holding either the ONC or GCE  A levels.  These led to Higher National Diplomas a (HND) and took 3 years to complete. Such courses were, I seem to recall, available in Mining Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.   Around 1965 the BSc Star replaced the HND in both Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

The subjects taken in the final examination for the HND in Mining were

  • Mining Technology
  • Colliery Mechanical Engineering
  • Colliery Electrical Engineering
  • Mining Surveying
  • Geology
  • Coal Preparation

The NCB ran Apprenticeship and Student Apprenticeship programmes.  Holders of GCE O and A Level certificates could apply to become Student Apprentices.  The aim of one programme was to provide the Colliery Managers of the future.  Student Apprentice Mining Engineers studied for the Technical and Polytechnic College qualifications and at the same time gained the practical experience that the Mines Qualification Board stipulated that entrants wishing to sit the Managers exam had to have. Shortly after starting at Leasingthorne Colliery as new entrant miner I sent an application for a Mining Engineer Student Apprenticeship to the headquarters of the National Coal Board’s Durham Division.  My indentures, signed on 19 March 1959, say my four to six year indenture period began on 27 October 1958.


a The Ordinary National Certificate in Mining and the Higher National Diploma in Mining were awarded by the Institution of Mining Engineers in conjunction with the Department of Education.
b Mining Sandwich Course, students attended college for 6 months – roughly from September to April - and worked in their collieries the other 6 months of the year.

The (first) relevant legislation found
1 The Coal Mines Regulation Act 1887
2 The Coal Mines Regulation Act 1872
3 The Coal Mines Regulation Act 1896



Page 4