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).

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