At the monthly meeting of the Hucknall U3A, John Tedstone, the chairman welcomed David Coleman whose talk was entitled “Tales of A Pitman”.
David was a local miner and mines rescue worker who worked in the pit and related some of the experiences of his days as a pit man.
He was dressed as a mine worker would have dressed in the 1950s and explained that his helmet was made of compressed cardboard and his lamp only had a twelve hour battery.
He began with the mining history of the 1900s, when boys as young as 12 followed their fathers down the mines.
David shared many facts and figures. Between 1850-1913 as many as 90,000 were killed down British coal mines. One explosion alone killed 439 men and boys in one blast.
Surgeons and nurses were often needed in pit disasters and would have to amputate a limb to bring a miner to the surface.
216 tonnes of coal were needed by the country in 1920 to power or heat homes and industry, all being mined by pick and shovel.
There were many dangers including roof falls and methane gas poisoning. Wooden pit props were used, these often gave warning of an imminent collapse due to the creaking and noise which the miners learnt to recognise.
David showed and explained the use of Davy lamps and the leather head protection for the pit ponies, which numbered up to 75,000.
David himself was badly injured in a pit accident during a mine rescue in 1991. His recovery took a full five years, he had composed a poem about his accident which he recited to the audience.
Members were told of forthcoming events including details about the “Picnic in the Park” event which has been organised for all U3A groups in the North Notts area.
It is to be held in June at Rufford Park and Hucknall are arranging a selection of outdoor games including welly wanging.
The next meeting is on Wednesday 11th June when Fran Sandham will tell us about his “Solo Walk Across Africa”