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Mines Rescue



Mines Rescue - Page 1

Williamson Wharmby, back row, 2nd from left - Superintendant Hutchinson 3rd from left

Williamson Wharmby in the centre with his wife Emma Elizabeth and children
Frank, Grace Emma and Clarence

THE Mines Rescue Service, until the 1960s a combined firefighting and rescue force, can call on the expertise and experience of some 400 colliery volunteer rescuemen, permanent corps brigades men and rescue officers employed at a series of rescue stations across the British coalfields.

Established following the 1911 Coal Mines Act, which made it compulsory for no mine to be more than 10 miles from a mines rescue station, the service, prior to 1947, had been a patchwork of schemes run by the Colliery Owners Association.

It is 92 years since the first mines rescue station was set up at Tankersley in Yorkshire. There were no training galleries, and exercises with breathing apparatus were confined to the men running up and down stairs, and to burning sulphur in the kitchen to represent practices in smoke.

When Yorkshire’s new Selby mines rescue station became operational on 28 September, 1986, it was the first to be built in the country since the mid-1950s.

The centre has high-tech equipment, including a spacious room which enables breathing apparatus to be maintained in sterile conditions.

Just how fit a full¬time rescue man has to be can be measured in the environmental chamber. Here in temperatures of 4O°C (102°F) and 100 per cent humidity, brigadsmen saw logs for 20 minutes, losing anything up to 5 lb in weight.

Modern rescue vans have a short-wave radio link with stations, and distinctive Land Rover Discoveries have been put on the road to help speed regular rescue men to a call out.