CAMARADERIE is always what former miners talk about when they get nostalgic of their time working underground.
And this was definitely true when a reunion was held in Hucknall to commemorate the 25th anniversary since the closure of Linby Colliery earlier this month.
This special meeting brought together people from across the district and beyond to talk about times gone by and catch up with old colleagues and their families.
The reunions first started back in 2008 when ‘Snowy’ Winfield and his wife Marilyn first organised a get-together. Its popularity prompted an annual event which has grown in strength and benefited many local charities along the way.
Snowy and Marilyn continue, together with several others, to keep the reunions going as a way of keeping the Linby family connected.
“Most people who worked at Linby lived in Hucknall so we all knew each other back then,” explained Tony Gluchowski who was a deputy. “I don’t know anyone who had a bad word to say about Linby. It was a great place to work because of the comaraderie.
“Many people who moved on to other industries after the closure of the pits said that the comaraderie just wasn’t the same.
“Down the pit everybody had your back no matter what and you trusted everyone you worked with. It wasn’t a dog eat dog environment like many places are today.”
At its peak, Linby employed 1,000 people with 700 men underground. But on 25th November 1987, a meeting was called and an announcement made of its planned closure which sent shockwaves across the community.
Its final day of operation was Friday 25th March 1988.
“I remember the day we had to decide whether we wanted to take redundancy or go to another pit,” added Tony, who lives on Bluebell Close. “We had to stand in different queues and right up to the last minute, men switched lines as they couldn’t make up their mind.”
Terry Werle was overman at Linby and also has great memories of his working life down the pit. But one day he wishes he could forget was in 1973 when he and two others got trapped underground when the roof collapsed.
“It was an afternoon shift, which I always hated, and we heard the creaking of the roof supports and before we knew it we were buried,” remembers Terry, who lives on Addison Avenue with his wife Doreen.
“I was with Geoff Thompson and Tony Marriott who I fell on top of and was holding him down. I had to dig him out so he could breathe. Meanwhile Geoff was stood up with the coal and rocks raining down on him.
“The men who were the other side of the collapse spent two hours digging us out. Luckily none of us were hurt.”
It was a story that Terry’s wife didn’t hear about until many years later and even today brings a tear to her eye.
“I didn’t tell Doreen that I was one of the men trapped at the time,” explained Terry. “She heard about the accident from her brother but I just came home as normal and went to work the next day.
“It wasn’t until two weeks later that the shock hit me.”
The leisure side of colliery life was what brought families together and helped create the colliery community. The Miners’ Welfare hosted many events from children’s parties to dinner dances to sporting fixtures.
“It was like being part of a big family,” remembers Doreen. “All the wives knew each other and our children grew up together which is why the reunions mean so much to us all.”
Working certain shifts meant miners didn’t see daylight for many days and working conditions were grim with temperatures ranging from hot to freezing but for the majority, they look back on their time working in the pits as the best part of their lives and for the men of Linby who meet each year, this is certainly true.