Our columnist remembers when an early start meant just that

When I started work on August 19, 1963, I was elated to be earning money, such as it was then, writes Steve Milnes.

But so disappointed that I missed out on my school holidays of six weeks.

Steve Milnes

Steve Milnes

The other major thing for me was that I had to get up at 4.45 am to get to work on time – what a shock to the system that was.

I had to catch two buses to get there and arrived with little time to spare.

I can say that standing waiting for a bus in winter is the coldest I have ever been.

We had no insulated shoes and boots then, and the standard donkey jacket did little to help.

I still smile at how many had a donkey jacket with NCB emblazoned on the back, even though some had never worked at the pit.

The buses had a small heater at the front but many had no rear doors so it was still cold in winter.

You could smoke upstairs on a bus then, and the air was often thick with it.

One thing I still recall fondly was the pit canteen and I think that will apply to many others too.

They had tea mugs that were big thick and heavy, but the tea was very nice.

Everyone will of course remember their egg custards, I know I do.

They did good dinners and sandwiches too, very handy if you were asked to work a ‘double-un’.

Although mining was a tough job, I always admired the pit village community spirit.

I enjoyed listening to all of the local news and gossip.

Who was entertaining over the weekend at the welfare, who had skipped paying for a round (a mortal sin).

If the pit manager had been for a drink and bought drinks for some and not others, that was headline news.

I worked at Blidworth Colliery in my teens and travelled from Mansfield every day.

Milkmen from the Northern Dairy and the landmark Co-op dairy, featured daily on my journey,

Now the milkmen and dairies have gone.