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GalleryMemories of Teversal Colliery 1959 - 1980  (Page 13)

Malcolm Roebuck - Photo Gallery

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Development Deputy

As soon as I had completed my twenty days with Sid I returned to shot firing, but this time as a development deputy and I have to admit that I enjoyed this type of work more than any other.  On this work you would see the start of the roadway and coal face developments through to the installation of all equipment and the first production from the new coal faces. 

Sometimes life could be easy, especially when you were in a remote location with only one development to look after and visits by higher officials was rare;  I particularly remember one such development, 19s Loader-gate in the Waterloo seam off 8s old loader-gate   The access to this roadway was now a main intake roadway not too far from No.1 pit bottom; the heading were only about fifty metres in and it was freezing cold due to it being in the winter months and the high velocity of the ventilation.  When the men were filling the debris out; I would drive the conveyor and take shelter from the cold by getting comfortable in a manhole; one morning I got a little too comfortable and fell asleep, Frank Brooks one of the development overmen decided to make a visit that morning.  When I awoke I discovered that my flame safety lamp (oiler) was missing and immediately started to search for it; I could not find it at the outbye of the heading and wondered if I had left it at the face of the heading and went inbye to look for it.  Bill Savage the chargeman header handed me my oiler and informed me that Frank Brooks had given it to him with the instruction not to wake me as I had looked so comfortable.

Bill Savage was a big strong chap, I was reminded of this one day when he was assisting me to ram the shotholes at the face of 19s L/G heading.  We were standing on some scaffolding about two metres above the floor when I slipped and fell; Bill grabbed me by the neck of my overalls with one hand and lifted me back up onto the scaffolding with no effort at all, I weighing about seventy kilograms at that time.  Another time I was assisting Bill and Lou Taylor to set a Junction girder; these girders were much larger and heavier than the normal girders, some 18 feet long 6x8 inch in section. Lou and I were at one end with Bill lifting the girder at the other end.  I can tell you that Lou and I struggled, but Bill lifted his end of the girder with no trouble at all.

National Association Of Colliery Overmen Deputies And Shotfirers

Harold Humphries

After a period on the “staff” I was elected onto the Teversal NACODS committee along with my brother David and brother-in-law Graham and attended as many meetings as were possible.  Harold Humphies held the position of secretary with Jack Sparham as president; later I was elected to represent the union as a delegate to the Midland Council.  Although many serious matters were discussed at the union meetings; the meetings were generally carried out in a light hearted manner, with everyone looking forward to a drink afterwards as the meetings were held in the Teversal Miners Welfare.(Later to become Teversal Grange)  

Graham Bradshaw

I remember on one occasion after a meeting we were sat in the bar of the Welfare having a drink when two rather attractive ladies walked in; Graham knew these ladies and wanting to impress offered to buy them both a drink and asked what they would like. At this point I must mention that Graham had a bit of a reputation for being on the “tight” side or should I say that he was rather prudent with his money. To everyone’s delight except Grahams; both ladies asked for one of the most expensive drinks and replied “We’ll have a Brandy and Babycham please.”

Arthur Wilcox

We had many humorous occasions after the union meetings but none more that we had at our annual dinner and dances; on these occasions presentations would be made to members that were retiring or had retired.  Various games, competitions and dances would be held with generous prizes for the winners; on one occasion I remember a bottle of expensive whisky being placed on the floor and competitors asked to throw or slide a two shilling (10p) coin as close to the bottle as possible from a distance of about thirty feet, the winner of the whisky would be the person who got closest to the bottle.  Most of the men participated in this game with many coins being picked up leaving the nearest coin to the bottle; one man Arthur Wilcox was determined to win this competition and in his haste slipped on the dance floor, as he fell his toupee came off and slid towards the bottle. 
Arthur, unfazed by this picked up his toupee and placed it back on his head and after some minor adjustment carried on as though nothing had happened.  The place was in uproar; you could not plan anything like this to happen, I don’t remember who won the whisky but I know that it wasn’t Arthur.

Attempted Murder?

I have worked on many different developments at the mine and have to admit that it was whilst working on one that I came as close as it is possible to committing murder and I mean every word that I say.  Remember Edmund Bacon the development overman that I had a bitter hatred of?  I was working on 11s loader-gate heading off 6s L/G in the Waterloo seam; the roadway was about twenty five metre in and would be required to be widened to accommodate the electrical switch gear for the motor to the conveyor and haulage. Edmund arrived on site and instructed me to widen the roadway to the right; I questioned this as it didn’t seem to make sense to me. The roadway was to be widened by adding extensions to the rings, the job had progressed over a few shifts and a number of rings had been widened over to the right when Edmund made a second visit.  Edmund blew his top calling me all the names he could lay his tongue to; he said that I had ballsed the job up and that I should have widened the roadway over to the left.  The red mist came down and I pounced on Edmund knocking him to the ground with my hands around his throat squeezing as hard as I could; his eyes were bulging out of his head and he was turning blue.  If it had not been for my brother pulling me off I am sure that I would have strangled Edmund; David had just arrived in time.  After this incident Edmund and I got on really well and put the past behind us.

Elevens development appeared to provoke a number of violent reactions; one day I was called upon to split two workmen up that had started fighting, they were two big chaps named Mick Thompson and Jeff Dove.  I don’t know who or what started the altercation but they were too big for me to part them so I requested the help of Des Stones; Des had been a well experienced amateur boxer in his youth, his identical brother Derrick often arranged to have a fight with some-one and send Des to fight in his place.

Once a development had been completed we would make the first cuts with the machine to get the face established before a regular coaling team took the district over, it was during this period that a second altercation took place.  Remember Blonk Ellis? Well he was one of my conveyor transfer point attendants and his job was to keep the conveyor running and to clean up any spillage, the altercation took place with him and an electrician Frank Partlow. 

Frank had been working on one of the main switchgear and had discovered a fault in the control panel; he had changed the control panel and decided to take the faulty one out of the mine because there were not any spare ones left on the district.  Frank decided to run the faulty control panel down the conveyor as it were on the heavy side; just before he got to the end of the conveyor he signalled for the belt to stop, he then shouted to Blonk not to start the belt up as he had got to take the control panel off of the belt.  Blonk took no notice of Frank and started the conveyor up as Frank was lifting the control panel off; the movement of the belt caused the panel to drop off the belt and this caused Frank a strain to the muscle of his right arm.

An almighty argument ensued that finished up with a few blows being thrown culminating in Frank striking Blonk with a BJD strut; the strut is made of ¼ inch “T” section steel and 3 feet in length these are used to tie the roadway supports to each other.  I soon had a phone call from Blonk; he was crying and he asked me to come to his assistance and to sort the matter out, after about ten minutes I arrived at the scene.  Both men were still arguing; Blonk now holding the offending strut, Blonk asked me what I would do if some-one had hit me with a strut, I replied without thinking and said “hit him back with it” and he did.  Well I never thought that I would sort this one out; I now had Frank to deal with and he was calling me all the names that he could lay his tongue to, eventually I got Frank to go on his way and Blonk to return to his job.  Both men were to blame; Frank should have put a lock-out on the conveyor to prevent it being started, Blonk should have taken notice of Franks request and not started the conveyor.

An American Joy Loader in action
It was whilst I was working as a development deputy that I suffered my most serious accident at the colliery.  We were driving a drift from the Dunsil Main Intake roadway down to the Waterloo Seam; the main problem with this was that the drift was in line with the main intake and we were to drive the roadway directly underneath the existing one and this was to be between the old loader-gates of 15s in the Dunsil. The first section of roadway was easy to drive due to the soft floor; all we had to do was to fill out the debris with a Joy Loader (MC3) and set new roadway supports (rings).  As we progressed steadily downhill the floor got stronger the further we travelled inbye and shot firing had to be introduced to break up the strata. Problems started as soon as the highest part of the rings became level to the floor of the old roadway, the soft floor was too unstable to hold and the increasing height to the roof of the old roadway made it increasingly unsafe and difficult to build supports above the rings up to it. 

This only left us with one option and that was to ignore supporting the cavity above the rings and to place debris filled sand bags over the supports as far as was possible.

Wood dowels were placed and glued into bore holes in the roof of the heading in an attempt to get under the bad work, these proved to be unsuccessful due to the shot firing operations.  The rings that were being set came in three sections; the crown or bow, and two leg sections.  The crown was set first being held in place by two girders called horse heads; these horse heads were held in place by brackets attached to previously set rings, the legs of the rings being set last.

We had reached the position where the crown had been set and covered over with steel sheets and about four layers of debris filled sandbags, the mound of debris that was on the floor was being used as a platform and the chargeman Fred Morris wanted to start and clean up with the Joy Loader.  I asked him to wait until I had checked over the crown and climbed up the heap of debris to take a look; I could see a cavity about six metres over the top and as I looked up I saw a large piece of stone fall from the roof of the old roadway immediately above me.  As I tried to escape the stone smashed into the crown section breaking through the steel covering; I was struck on the right side of my head, shoulder and foot by either the stone or material that it had dislodged.  I can assure you that all of this happened in slow motion; as I tried to run away I could feel that I was being overcome by a kind of weakness, I was not dizzy but I felt all of my strength drain away and collapsed to the ground about five metres from the face of the heading.  The next thing I knew was that Bill Rushton one of the headers was looking at me and shouting to Fred for assistance (Bill was on the point of fainting as he could not stand the sight of blood) I could see Bill through a curtain of red though I couldn’t feel any pain to my head, I think I had been knocked senseless as it was obvious that I had lacerations to the head.  I couldn’t get up as the pain to my right foot was too great, not only that I was too weak, Fred Morris and another header Alan Newcombe administered first aid.  Soon after two deputies arrived, my old friend Joe Head and Peter Knowles; they organised for me to be transported out of the mine and accompanied me right up to the medical centre.  I was sent by ambulance to Mansfield General Hospital where I had six sutures over the left eye and twenty to the right side of my head.  Now I must mention a male nurse that was on duty and put all of the sutures in; he was Nurse Dennison and I know that I should be grateful, but he was the cruellest bastard that I have ever come across.  He told me that I was mardy and that what he was doing didn’t hurt me.  There I was lying in a pool of blood whilst he shaved my hair off and then stuck needles in my thumping head showing no mercy.  The hospital wanted to admit me for observation but I refused and discharged myself (I didn’t want to worry my wife).  I returned to work some six weeks later.

It was about a year after the above accident that I was in the process of building an extension at home and had reached the position where the roof of the extension was ready for the felt waterproof membrane to be put on.  It was on a warm summer’s day that I decided to do the roof; I had started to boil the bitumen (Tar) up ready for applying the felt and had got everything in position to make a start.  I went to see if the bitumen was boiling and lifted the lid off of the boiler to check; it was fine, but as I went to replace the lid I slipped and fell placing my left hand in the hot bitumen.  I ran into the house and placed my hand under the cold tap so as to cool it; I was in agony, a neighbour took me to the hospital and who was the nurse that was to carry out the treatment on my hand?  Nurse Dennison!!!! This time he did tell me “This is going to hurt” and it did.  I have to say that the treatment was too painful to describe.


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