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August 2018
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Mining Artefacts & Memories

We have many items relating to the Mining Industry in our Museum as regular visitors will know. A lot of these items we donated to the museum by the late Mr Jim Watkins who was chairman of Sixbells Lodge. When I look at these items it brings back memories working as a colliery electrician at Sixbells and some experiences that I had there, some comical and some bad.

On one occasion both Jim and I had been working late on a job underground. When we reached pit bottom the hitcher (the man who worked the signals at the bottom of the shaft ) was busy unloading medical supplies from the bond. He approach us saying that there were men trapped in H District and needed  these supplies. Everyone else had gone home so he asked if we wanted to take them in.  As there were men trapped we readily agreed. 

Jim took the smaller packages leaving a large package for me to carry. We set off up to H District. On the way the telephone rang and Jim answered it, it was the electrician engineer telling us we would not be paid because it was not our job. The answer we gave was unprintable our priorities were the trapped men not monetary gain. As we neared the accident we came across two men, one man was using a hacksaw to cut through roof support) that was pinning the other man to the floor a ring (by his foot, His steel toecap had saved his foot. We went further on into the roof fall where the men were being dug out. We passed the medical supplies to the ambulance man, as we did so Jim had a look of amazement on his face as my package although large was made up of bandages and cotton wool etc and was very light. The electrical engineer relented and paid us a few hours overtime.


Another experience was when I was working with two other electricians on a night shift.  We were working on the signalling system on the coal face. The Fireman and Overman working there told us the roof had not crashed for days and was still hanging and could come down at any moment.  Me being the smallest went up the face testing using my intercom and talking to the electricians at the face entrance. Suddenly there was a crack and a sound like thunder, and the roof came down around me.

Collapsed Mine

The stones knocked the intercom out of my hand and buried it.  I could hear the electricians shouting “are you okay and are you still there” eventually I retrieved my handset and told them with a relieved voice “yes Bear logoI’m okay where do you think I am.” They then started the Panzar Conveyor to clear the fall to enable me to get out,

Any man who worked underground would have had similar experiences.

Don Bearcroft



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