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GalleryMemories of Teversal Colliery 1959 - 1980  (Page 17)


Malcolm Roebuck - Photo Gallery

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Theft

The only other time that I can remember the Police coming to the mine was to arrest one of the fitters for theft; I will not reveal this man’s name for obvious reasons. This fitter was a man that my brother and I used to go out with regularly for a drink; he was well known for selling “cheap goods” he was a bit of a “Dell Boy” type of character and very funny with it. I never purchased anything from this man as you would never know from where he had got the goods. This man was arrested as he got off the cage after finishing his shift; the word of his arrest spread like wildfire and I can tell you that this caused a lot of the men to start and worry. I was reliably informed that a certain colliery overman disposed of the liquid assets that he had purchased down the kitchen sink and dumped the empty bottles in someone else’s dust bin. I believe that many started chain smoking to dispose of their ill gotten assets.

On one occasion I had a set of oxy/acetylene hoses for sale and this “Dell Boy” said that he knew someone who was after some and rather foolishly I handed them over to him; I heard nothing about these hoses for months and to be honest I had almost forgotten about them. One night we had gone out for a drink; usually we would buy a round of drinks each, but on this occasion “Dell Boy” said that he had come into some money and that he would pay for all of the drinks that night. At the end of the evening “Dell Boy” handed me some money; I asked what it was for, he replied “Its’ the change from the money I got for your hoses”. “Change” I asked; “Yes” he said, “You’ve paid for all the drinks tonight”. I did get my revenge some weeks later; we were about to leave the pub to go to another local venue, Dell Boy hadn’t finished his drink and he handed me a £20 note so as to get the next round of drinks in. You should have seen his face when he walked into the pub and I handed him his change, I had treated everyone at the bar to a drink and said to him “Its OK you’ve paid for the drinks tonight”.


Back To Waterloo 33s

There were very few accidents on 33s district, I remember one minor accident that took place that required six men to get the patient out of the mine. This accident occurred at the Tail Gate stablehole as we were nearing the end of the Mid Shift at about 6:00pm in the evening; Enie Hallam had just set a prop and placed his hand on the floor when a piece of coal dropped onto the back of his hand, Enie fainted due to the pain. Now I am aware that every-ones pain barrier is different; there was only slight swelling to the back of his hand but he kept having bouts of dizziness and I had no alternative but to have him stretchered out of the mine. I have to say that Enie was a good hard working man and it was unfortunate that he had reacted in this way; he just could not help it.

Every week the fitter would take an oil sample from the face machine and this would be tested for any debris in the oil; the debris in one sample indicated excessive wear on some internal part of the machine, the face machine would have to be changed. The new (reconditioned) machine would be delivered in pieces to the Supply Gate inbye where it would be built up before being hauled onto the face. The new machine build up would take a few shifts to complete; once done, the old machine would be driven off the face and the replacement hauled onto the face. This is not a simple task as the machine rides on the panzer; the panzer has to be broken out and routed into the gate for the machine to ride on, also the haulage chain has to be re-routed so that the machine can haul itself off the face using its own power. The reverse of this procedure is required to get the new machine onto the face.

After two days my team hauled the new machine onto the face and then left it for the following shift to complete replacing the panzer and other associated equipment; the next morning all we had to do was to couple up the water supply to the machine and test it. Tom Flannery the colliery dust control officer had been on site every dayshift to supervise the installation of the dust suppression equipment and eagerly waited for the water to be turned on. We turned the water on but it failed to operate the sprays on the left side of the machine; Tom couldn’t believe it, he knew that he had coupled all of the water pipes up and this meant that he would have to strip out his equipment so as to find out what had gone wrong. Instead of my team starting production that morning we were to spend the next four hours trying to locate the fault; poor old Tom was getting into such a state, he had got the undermanager screaming for his blood. Finally the fault in the system was discovered to be a manufacturing fault in a water connection called the “Banjo”, this was a coupling that sent the water in two different directions and it had not been drilled out properly. We swapped this fitting for the one on the old machine and got the machine ready for the oncoming shift.


Bad News

In 1979 we were informed that the mine would cease production in March or April 1980; everyone was devastated even though we had been told that jobs for every man wanting one would be found at other local collieries, voluntary redundancy was to be offered to those wanting to leave the industry. Teversal had never made a loss and the unions at the pit did their best to convince the Board that other workable reserves of coal were available; unfortunately they were not able to prove their case, not only that there was not any support forthcoming from the main body of the unions. I remember attending a “Midland Council” meeting for NACODS at Hucknall Miners Welfare one Saturday; I attempted to raise the issue of the closure of Teversal but was ruled out of order as the subject was not on the agenda. The person that called for the “point of order” was Harry Roebuck the Bentink Colliery delegate; he was my father’s cousin, I was very angry and felt let down by the union. Everyone at the pit were determined to make a success of the final months that Teversal would be in production, we were going to hold our heads high and be proud to have been miners at Teversal.


Time To Look For A New Job

I decided to look for a new job in January 1980 but did not have to look far; my elder brother Dennis informed me of a job that would soon be coming up at Sherwood Colliery, both he and my brother David advised me to apply for it. I did and had a successful interview about two weeks later; a few days after the interview I was told the job was mine, not by an official source I think everyone at the pit knew before I did. Ron Wood had been informed by the Manager George Nobel that I had got the job; the undermanager had asked Graham my brother-in-law to come to my home to tell me the good news.

I would terminate my employment at Teversal Colliery on the last day of February1980 after completing twenty one years; this was to be one of the saddest days of my life, I was dreading the final day having to say goodbye to some of the finest men that it had been my pleasure to work with. Teversal was a “family pit” and I was about to lose my family.


Final Day

The day that I were dreading had arrived; I made my way to the pit early that morning as I wanted to see as many of the men as possible; I asked the undermanager if it was possible for me come out of the mine before the end of my shift as I had rather a lot to do, he gave permission for me to do so.

That morning I had decided to enter my district via the Supply Gate: something that I would not normally do, I did this so that I would be able to say goodbye to all of the men on my way around the district. The first man that I saw was Arthur Hippey; I used to work with Arthur when I was on the development, we talked about old times and I reminded him of when he twisted my brother. Arthur had once asked David if he would make some refuge holes (man holes) for him and that he would “treat” David if he did so. David made a couple of man holes for which Arthur would have received about £6; David was disgusted when Arthur walked into the canteen and gave David a “Walnut Whip” (Chocolate confectionary containing a walnut). Before I left; Arthur warned me that he had heard the men from my Loader Gate Advanced Heading making plans to strip all of my clothes from me and to send me out of the mine naked. I thanked Arthur for this information; shook his hand and bid him a fond farewell.

The next men that I was to meet were the Supply Gate Rippers; I had a discussion with these men and like I did with Arthur I shook their hands and bid them farewell. As I prepared to go onto the coal face the face conveyor stopped; I telephoned the surface Control Room to ascertain the cause of the stoppage and was informed that one of the conveyors on the Main Intake roadway had suffered a fault and that there would be a long delay.

I progressed onto the coal face and could see that Peter Cobley was in the process of ramming shot holes in the stable hole and that he would soon be ready for firing them. I stayed at this location for a while talking to the men in the stable hole; as soon as Peter were ready to fire the shots, I bid farewell to Peter and a couple of the men and travelled about forty yards up the face with Alan Underwood and Eric Wilson both of whom were to act as sentries. These men were to stop anyone travelling towards the stable hole whilst shot firing was in progress; I thought this a bit strange, it wasn’t necessary for them to do this as I could have acted as sentry. As soon as the shots had been fired both of the men pounced on me; they took a “Stanley Knife” out and cut my boot laces into pieces, they said it was a going away present. I had to crawl back down to the stable hole to collect some used detonator wire so that I could fasten my boots up with it; I now knew that I was going to be in for it when I reached the Loader Gate; I would keep my guard up and not let them know that I was aware of their plans.

Next I was to meet my coal face machine team; Terry (Tiger) Riley he were the acting face chargeman as Jack Vardy the old face chargeman had left two weeks earlier; George Turner the machine driver and the three chockmen Ronnie Pitt, Roy Mason and Kevin Bestwick. My old friend Kevin had taken Tigers previous job; I found it very difficult to say goodbye to these men and I must admit that at this point I was starting to get choked up. After saying goodbye to the men I tentatively made my way to the Loader Gate.

I had reached the “T” Junction (The point of entry to the face from the Loader Gate) and turned my light out so that I would not be seen, I could see the Advanced Heading Team, they were all sat down. I turned my light on and shouted to them asking why they were all sat there; I think that this startled them a little and caught them off guard, they replied that they could not do anymore work as the conveyors were stood. I walked into the Heading to talk to them; Sam Westwood the chargeman header asked what time would I be leaving, I replied that it would be at the end of the shift and breathed a sigh of relief, they didn’t know that I would be leaving early.

The heading team consisted of Sam who was about fifteen years older than me; Tommy Gladwyn a small man a couple of years younger, I knew that I hadn’t got to worry about these two. Now the chaps that could be a problem for me were John (Mash) Allsop and Edward (Ned) Wallace; both of these were young fit men, Mash was slim about six foot four and Ned must have been six foot six and of a large muscular build.

Without saying goodbye to the heading team I left saying that I was going to telephone the control room to see how much longer the breakdown would be; on reaching the control panel on the pantechnicon I did this. I was informed that we would be stood for at least one more hour; I was hoping that the belts would start up sooner, the Loader Gate was over one thousand yards long and I was hoping to ride the conveyor out. Derrick Williams the Stage Loader driver like the headers was inquisitive as to what time I would be leaving I could feel that he was part of the conspiracy to strip me of my clothes.

At this point I should describe what the conditions were like in the Loader Gate; the conditions were good from the stage loader inbye. The face had passed over some old workings from Sutton Colliery in a seam below and the height in the roadway had deteriorated from the stage loader outbye for about one hundred yards. This area had additional wood props set beneath the rings as in an attempt to stabilise the roof, the floor was wet and sludgy. Alongside the pantechnicon wood battens had been placed on the floor; the men used these as seats when they had their snap (Food), they also stripped off in this area and hung their clothes up.


The Final Act

I walked down the gate a little as though I was examining the area and then returned to Derrick; I asked him if he had any “road nails” as I could see that some were missing from the tub track and that I wanted to replace them.  Derrick gave me about six nails and loaned me his hammer to knock them in with; I went down the gate a little and pretended to be replacing the “missing” nails and when Derrick wasn’t looking I put my own plan into action.  I gathered the header’s clothes up and rubbed them into the sludge on the floor; I then made sure that Derrick had not seen what I was doing and started to nail the clothes to the wood props, I had only got a couple of nails in when I heard Derrick calling for the headers over the Tannoy.  I had been rumbled; time to make a quick escape, I ran as quickly as I could, I had got a good start and was confident that I could escape.  I have to admit that my confidence soon started to diminish when I could hear “Big Ned’s” boots pounding on the ground behind me. My heart was thumping; the sound of Ned’s boots encouraged me to put an extra effort in my attempt to escape, Ned was accompanied with Mash and Tommy, I knew what my fate would be if they could catch me.

I had left my district and had run down two other roadways a distance of about 1800 yards; I was exhausted and as I rounded a junction onto another roadway I decided to hide underneath the conveyor and turned out my light.  I was able to get underneath the bottom belt of the conveyor; it was a bit of a tight squeeze but I did manage to conceal myself.  I looked back and could see the terrible threesome looking to see which way I had gone; I was gasping for breath hoping that they would not find me.  After about ten minutes the conveyor started up and the bottom belt was rubbing on my back; this was rather uncomfortable so I decided to make my escape.  I climbed up on tight side of the conveyor so not to been seen; still with my light out I mounted the top conveyor and as they say “rode off into the distance”.  I did not continue my journey out of the mine; when I got off the conveyor I hid down an old roadway for about twenty minutes just to make sure that I wasn’t being followed. Coast clear, I rode the conveyors all the way out to the pit bottom, “safe at last”.

Once on the surface I filled in my reports for the last time; then to the baths for a shower and to clear my lockers out, next I would be going around old friends to say good bye.  This is when reality kicks in and you get that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach; it feels just like a death in the family, after twenty one years I would not be coming up the pit lane ever again, the chances of meeting my old workmates would be remote indeed.

The last man that I went to see was George Noble the Colliery Manager, I thanked him for what he had done for me whilst I had been at Teversal and with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat bid him farewell.

This was not to be my last act; on leaving the Managers office I could see Big Ned and his gang walking across the Gantry that took them over the railway lines to the Pit Head Baths, more revenge I thought.  I waited till the terrible threesome were stripped naked and under the showers; unseen I took the bath attendants high pressure hose and blasted the three of them with ice cold water.  I managed to make a safe getaway, punching my fist in the air as I did so.

On my way home I was overwhelmed by my emotions; I would sooner call it grief, I had to stop the car as I was blinded by the tears.  I couldn’t help it; the loss I felt was indescribable.

On the following Monday I was to start a new career in mining, I wonder if you have guessed what the new job was to be?  I had got the job of Safety Officer at Sherwood Colliery.  “Poacher turned Game Keeper” springs to mind.

A few weeks after I had finished at Teversal my brother David said that there was a safety competition that we should attend so off we set with our wife’s; on the way to the venue David said that he had to call in Teversal Welfare.  I walked into the bar of the welfare and was about to order a drink when a large hand was placed on my shoulder I turned around it was Big Ned, he said “What would you like to drink”. Thank God! I thought he was going to get his revenge. Unknown to me my face team had arranged a surprise farewell party for me; this was something I never expected.

I will never forget them, bless them all.


 

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