Thursday, 29 October 2009

In Dad's Shoes - Part 2

On the second day I was told I would be working in the Lamp room for the next three weeks. This was where every miner going down the pit had to collect his cap lamp and safety lamp. Each miner had a brass disc with their man number on it and this had to be moved from the out- board to the in-board so that a check could be kept on who was down the pit. If any man wanted to stay for overtime or do a double shift this information had to be telephoned from the pit bottom so that everyone was accounted for at all times. When the men came back up their discs moved back to the out-board and their lamps were cleaned and recharged.

My next assignment was in the Blacksmith’s shop. This was where the minecars used down the pit were repaired . The harness and chains for the pit ponies were also repaired as was other equipment for use on the pit top. We would sometimes have our legs pulled and be sent on a fool’s errand. I was sent to another workshop for “a long stand”.

Then it was on to the screens. This is where the coal came out of the pit and was washed and all the stone and other rubbish had to be removed. This was the dirtiest and dustiest job so far. My final training was in the stockyard where minecars were loaded with gear for underground.

Matty's Malawi Diary - Part 1

As the plane touched down in Johannesburg, the start of an amazing trip began. 24 hours before I was about 9400km away back in Yorkshire. But now I was in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A taxi ride to Manchester Airport then the short flight to London set me on my way. Then I relaxed in the BA First Class Lounge before leaving to catch my overnight plane to Johannesburg.

At about 11:30 I got on to my plane to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The flight took about 12 hours to get to Lilongwe. When we arrived we drove into Lilongwe (some 20km from the airport) as we drove, I saw ripe watermelons and tomatoes, as well as raw carcass of goat on sale by then side of the roads. In the distance the scrubland stretch on for miles, but you could also see small villages, full of houses made out of mud. When we arrived in Lilongwe we got dropped off at the place where I was staying and then had a early night as I was very tired.

Then next morning I left at around 6:30am because today I was heading off to Kasungu, which was the capital of the district, also named Kasungu.

I was visiting Malawi because my Mum’s work (The Health Foundation) was on a visit there to see how their work on a project that aims to reduce maternal deaths in Malawi was developing. The project, (called MaiKhanda, meaning Mother and Baby in the Chichewa, the second language of Malawi) runs in Lilongwe, Kasungu and Salima, a town near Lake Malawi.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

In Dad's Shoes

ED: For the next three weeks, PC Subscripient John Moss will be sharing his accounts of working in the mines of Normanton. Mining is a big historical feature of recent Yorkshire history, and something that is well documented. Please see below John's first installment of working in the mines and log on to next Saturday to see how John's second day was.

By John E. Moss

I was born in 1952, the middle child of a family of seven. My father was a coal miner also his brother, Laurence, who lodged with us. Their father had been a coal hewer before them. Our town, Normanton, offered three main occupations the railway, farming or the pits. Farming was hard work and poorly paid, the railway gave the opportunity to rise from a lowly waged porter to a highly paid driver but as my family connections were with the pits that was my destiny.

I had attended the local Secondary Modern School and as my 15th birthday approached I applied for employment at the local pit. After a 10 minute interview I was told a job was mine so when I left school on the Friday I started work on the Monday morning. I had to attend Newton Hill Training Centre at Wakefield for 6 weeks along with all the other new trainees. Here we learned how to operate different equipment and drive diesel locomotives. Our first taste of underground working was in the mock tunnels which were made to be as true to the real thing as possible. At the end of the training period I was told I was to work at Parkhill Colliery and to report there at 6.30 am on the following Monday.

When the big day dawned I was up at 4.45am in readiness to leave at 5am for the 50 minute bike ride across the fields to the pit. I was scared but excited at the same time. I found myself along with two other trainees being shown around by the Training Officer. We toured the pit head, workshops and canteen before being given the keys to our 2 lockers in the shower room (one for dirty clothes and one for clean clothes).

Fishing For Bishops - An Update From Max

Fishing For Bishops are moving to new untested pastures this weekend as they depart on an adventure to the misty lands of Preston to record their first demo. After the Manager of Preston FM saw the quintet at their cracking first gig on the 26th, he was more than happy to offer them a days recording in the radio studio in return for an hours set on the station and the band are set to travel down this coming Sunday.

‘Things look bright’ says manager Billy Painter ‘the band has a fair few gigs on the horizon and can’t wait to share their funky, adrenaline beating music with anyone and everyone.’

The demo should be available soon, so feel free to ask any of the band or related members for a copy of their upbeat, skankadelic music!