Whilst many excellent histories have been written about mining, what is sadly lacking is first hand material about the personal and social aspects of this once mighty and now almost gone industry. Recently, some attempts have been made to address this by way of “living history” booklets recording the recollections of long retired people. What makes this document interesting is that Malcolm Roebuck has set down in his own style his recollections of his time at the Teversal Colliery (known to locals as Butcherwood) from the time of his going there from school to its closure. It therefore stands as an interesting and useful social commentary on a recent yet bygone time.
These first hand recollections cast light on different aspects of the world of mine work; every reader will be struck by different entries and those who know nothing at all about coal mining will easily follow the clear explanations of mining words and terms.
In here we find the training and initiation of young boys into manhood and the world of work; the good humour, the esprit de corps and camaraderie of the majority, but also petty (and serious) fall-outs. The humorous incidents and the dirty tricks sometimes played. The ever-present danger – the death of a relative, fatal and near fatal accidents; the deputy distraught at losing one of his men to an avoidable fatal accident. The hard working little pit ponies and the devastation felt by a driver when his pony was killed. The system of “fining” men for misdemeanours rather than sacking them or resorting to prosecuting them. The common sense approach of officials to what could have been sackable offences. All and more are covered here.
The once mighty mining industry and those that supplied and supported them employed hundreds of thousands of men and women – the numbers are easily quantified. What is harder to measure is the social consequence of it’s’ demise. The tangible things include loss of the Miner’s Welfare, the cricket and football teams, numerous clubs, brass bands and so forth. Reading this account of the industry will help bring home the intangible – a belief that the work you are doing is useful; the good chance of getting a reasonably well paid job; that feeling of community which is so hard to define; a sense of belonging. Having said all that, most miners never wanted their sons to follow them down the pit – it was dirty, dangerous work. For some though, it was the work of choice and many grasped the opportunities for training and advancement offered by the former National Coal Board.
This highly individual no-holds-barred account of life as a miner is an easy, enjoyable read and sheds light on those everyday aspects of the mining industry.
I dedicate these memories to all who worked at Teversal Colliery; I apologise for not naming all of the men that I have worked with, there is not sufficient room or time to allow me to do so. However I will give the names for my last team, they are in no particular order. Peter Cobley, Howard Langford, Sam Westwood, John Allsop, Tommy Gladwyn, Jack Hadfield, Jack Vardy, George Turner, Terry (Tiger) Riley, Roy Mason, Ronnie Pitt, Kevin Bestwick, Melias Gusvic, Ken Aldread, Terry (Knocker) Riley, Allan Underwood, Eric Wilson, Bernard Upton, Enie Hallam, Derrick Williams, Brian Marshall, Horace Turner and Roy Hancock. I apologise if I have missed anyone, my only excuse is that my memory is not what it used to be.
The contents of this paper may not be in chronological order; other readers may not agree with some of the contents, however I must point out that these are some of my memories of Teversal Colliery. I may include other memories that I have of Teversal Colliery in any future publication.
Many thanks to my brother-in-law Paul Bradshaw; without his encouragement I would not have written my memories. I also thank him for his time and effort proof reading 'My Memories of Teversal Colliery', for his good advice and for writing the foreword for this document.
Many thanks to my brother David Roebuck and brother-in-law Graham Bradshaw; both have helped fill some of the gaps in my memory and have provided some of the photographs.
Finally I would like to thank my wife Christine for putting up with me and supplying endless cups of tea whilst I have been sat at my computer for many hours writing this paper.