I started work at Denaby Main Colliery in January 1958 after leaving
Conisbrough Northcliffe School at age 15years. After completing sixteen
weeks basic practical training at Manvers Training Centre and theory at
Mexborough Schoefield Technical we were sent to our respective Collieries.
I remained on the Colliery Surface working in the Pit Head Baths until mid
November, at the age of 16 years I went underground into the Parkgate Seam
For the first 20 shifts I was under close personal supervision and had to
remain constantly with my supervising workman. I remained in the pit for
some 18 months and was then sent into the surveying dept where I worked with
a team of four lads whose main task was to put centre lines on the
underground roadways. This enabled the rippers who formed the roadways to
keep to centre. We also put on face lines to keep the faces straight, pack
lines and grade lines in the roadways where dints (floor heave) had occurred
and dirt was removed from the floor to improve clearances in the roadway.
On reaching the age of 19 years I went to do coalface training which
consisted of 60 days hand filling coal onto a bottom belt face conveyor, 20
days building packs and recovering supports from the waste, 20 days
advancing the face conveyor gearhead and conveyor belt, 20 days middle cut
machine coal cutter and 20 days ripping at the roadhead.
On completion of training I was known as a filler for two years before
becoming a Collier. The term Collier means a person who can perform all
types of work on or near to the coalface.
In 1968 I was selected to go for 6 months on the Colliery Officials Course.
On completion of the course I became a Colliery Deputy in May 1969.
Denaby Main Colliery closed in December 1968 and we were transferred to our
sister Colliery Cadeby Main.
I continued with my further education until 1975 to gain my mining
I became a Colliery Overman in May 1976.
It was in July 1978 I applied for the position of Colliery Safety Engineer
at Silverwood Colliery, I was appointed on 31st July 1978.
Silverwood Colliery was always renowned for being an high achiever
production wise; at the time I commenced there were 1622 men were on the books.
The Safety department was quite large in excess of 40 persons.
The department consisted of heads of department: -
• Safety Officer and Assistant Safety Officer
• Ventilation Engineer and Ventilation Officer
• Methane Drainage Officer
• Dust Control Officer
• Stone Dust Barrier Deputy.
The heads of department also had support Staff to carry out the function of
their respective department.
In addition to managing the department some of my other responsibilities
Underground Officials on a shift basis carried out inspections of the
underground workings and Statutory reports were compiled by the Officials, I
was authorized under Section 10 of the Mines & Quarries Act 1954 to read and
countersign all reports on behalf of the Mine Manager. In addition to these
there were also Mechanical, Electrical, Winding Engineman’s hours, and a
whole host of other M & Q Books to read and countersign.
Each morning I attended the Managers morning meeting, which was attended by
the Deputy Manager, mechanical, & Electrical Engineers, Coal Preparation
Plant Manager, Surface Superintendent, Surveyor and other Managers as
requested by the Mine Manager. I presented him with a report of the
contents of the Officials reports.
Following the meeting I used to go on an underground or surface visit to
carry out routine inspections and report back to the Mine Manager or his
Deputy on my findings and the action taken or action needed to close out.
Once per week I regularly attended an inspection of the Underground or
Surface workings with the Colliery Safety Representatives who were from the
NUM, NACODS & BACM, on completion of the inspection the M&Q 216 Form was
completed. This was passed to the Manager with the actions taken on any
observations or defects so found.
A copy of the report was sent to the HSE (Mining Inspectorate) at Silver
Due to the hazardous nature of mining Silverwood Colliery had accidents, we
had reported accidents which were entered on an AR1 form by Underground
Officials and Surface Supervisors. If a person was off work for more than 3
days this was a reportable accident under the RIDDOR Regulations and form
F2508 was completed and within a period of 7 days forwarded to the HSE.
In the event of a Major Injury, Fracture of Bones, Loss of part of a Limb
etc this was reported by the fastest means, usually telephone to the HSE.
It was my duty to organize for the workmen’s inspectors to inspect the
worksite and give their permission for the work to commence at the accident
site when they were satisfied it was safe to do so.
I also informed the surveyors who had to take measurements and compile a
scale drawing of the accident site.
I was also responsible for the taking of statements from injured persons,
witnesses and other parties where deemed necessary. Following a major
injury the Mines Inspector would be at the mine the next day to further
investigate the accident and give his recommendations to prevent a future
accident of this nature.
During my 15 years at Silverwood we only had one fatality to a sub contactor
who was transporting a powered support along a roadway, the powered support
due to the limited clearance in the roadway fouled a roadway support.
Whilst he was freeing the support the haulage inadvertently started and his
head was crushed between the powered support and the roadway support. The
mans twin brother witnessed the accident and never went underground again.
I could write a book on my experiences in the Coal mining industry but that
is beyond the scope of this short article.
I would however like to say as a testament to all of the people I have
worked with in my 35 years, one could not have worked with such hard working
people who made the Coal Mining Industry such a proud industry.
The team spirit and particularly in an emergency cannot be bettered.
Since 1993 I have worked on the Railways as a Safety, Quality & Environment
Manager and the experience I gained in the mining industry has served me
well in the Railway Environment.
© Jeff Lovell
April 13th 2006