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Philip Healey - Ilkeston Mines Rescue 1954 - 1971 (Page 1)

I Remember Philip

I miss the old rascal and
I treasure every moment of his friendship.
Regards Doug.


I Remember Philip - Joe Henshaw

I Remember Philip (or Rosie's dad as I knew him). I seem to recall that amongst all the other things, he had a hand in TV repairs, and also being particularly impressed with a fairly large calibre bolt-action rifle he had. He gave me two bullets (presumably not live) which I later took to Chaucer infants school. It was found necessary to poke fellow pupil Arthur Butler with one of these items, and consequently they were confiscated by teacher Mrs. James. The promise of their return at the end of term was never realised. Shame.

Wasn't there also a dog? (Trixie)
It used to bolt for my older brother Gary whenever he went past the Healey's house on his motorbike. At least until the unfortunate Trixie went for a rotatonal ride with the front wheel. Not so keen to chase after that I recall.

Markham disaster of 1973. I remember the day the cage went down - it was during the school holidays and there was a hell of a commotion at the station as opposed to the normal ringing of various bells etc. so it was obvious something serious had happened. Years later I was on a training course in Wales. Another delegate was an ex-mining engineer who had been involved in the investigation following Markham. According to him the winder's manual braking handle had sheared, and the drum's emergency stop was incorrectly wired preventing this working either. These devices would not have stopped the cage plummeting to the pit bottom (the result of the failure of the other safety devices) but would have reduced the consequential damage that led to so much other stuff falling a) down the shaft and b) being rocketed up the shaft wrecking the winder and winding house. The winder operator just had to wait, unable to do a thing. Understandably, I don't believe he was able to work again. Another account (amongst other horror stories) tells of the bottom deck of the fallen cage being only 18" high when recovered.

Joe Henshaw

(Philip had retired from the Mines Rescue when the Markham disaster occured. He was working at Ratcliff Power Station but when he heard about it he went straight to Markham. His reasoning was that he was an experienced Rescue Man and Emergency Winder. He was imediately put onto the winder).

We Spent Many Happy Hours In His Garden ‘Shed’
Gary Henshaw

You seem to be very well informed in several areas by my younger brother Joseph. But you must realise that him being 14 years younger than me, he is “nowt burralad” (However he does take his research very seriously, and I most definitely respect him for that!)

Living just a couple of hundred yards away, Phil Healy was a good friend to me in my early/mid-teens – we both shared an interest in mending old radios, TV’s, tape recorders, etc., as well as both being interested in the coalmining industry.

We spent many happy hours in his garden ‘shed’ (workshop) discussing all things electronic or mechanical. The best advice he gave me was to avoid employment in the mining industry (even though he was passionate about it himself). The worst advice he gave was to use a particular brand of industrial solvent to ‘clean-up’ my recently renovated tape deck. It seemed to be working a treat – all traces of dust, grease or grime disappeared with the wipe of a cloth. Unfortunately, the process failed to stop there. Every plastic component (including the casing and buttons) rapidly deteriorated into a mess of what can only be described as “jelly”. Nice one Phil, but I eventually forgave him. (Especially after his dog later had an unplanned experience involving the front wheel of my motorbike – see Joseph’s reasonably accurate account).

Nearby, the extensive Manners Colliery had been closed for many years. However the shafts, headgear and some of the surface buildings had been retained as an emergency-winding facility for other linked collieries in the area. I seem to recall that regular “rescue” exercises were performed. However I have some doubt as to how realistic it would have been for miners in adjacent collieries to have been rescued via this route though. Water, gas, lack of light, dubious territory and sheer distance would seem to me (as a non-miner) to be extremely adverse factors in any such proposed rescue?

Much later (1970-ish?), it was decided to clear the colliery site and fill the shafts in. A wrecking-ball crane was used to demolish most of the surface buildings, with the bright idea of bulldozing as much material as possible down the shafts. Phil recalled almost with disbelief that rail tracks, sleepers, concrete and miscellaneous ironwork was ‘dozed towards the general vicinity of one shaft, some 1200 feet deep (including the sump). Inevitably much of this blocked the shaft, forming a ‘plug’ roughly 150 feet down. And then the fun really started. Presumably due to the lack of shaft maintenance over the years and the activities of the heavy demolition team, the shaft lining collapsed one night leaving a ‘funnel’ of increasingly greater diameter. Depending upon which account you believe, the bulldozer either fell down this precipice or narrowly escaped such a fate. Either way, thousands of tons of concrete were apparently required to stabilize the surface topology, which is now adjacent to the Ilkeston (Manners Industrial Estate) Refuse Amnesty site.

Gary Henshaw.

"I'm not your hunting and shooting type: I'm more your shunting and hooting type!"