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Your Memories


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Remarkable pit stories from the Heroes of Coal


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From: Hamilton, Gillian
Pit Name:Penallta Colliery
Location:Hengoed

Memory: MY father Arthur Carey Choppin was born in 1925 in Fleur de Lis and when he was 14 went to work at Penallta Colliery for 20 years. He was an engine operator in the number 2 shaft. He is still alive and is now 91. Does anyone know if there is a museum with the memories he had there or has anyone got any photos you could share with him. We live in New Zealand. Regards Gillian Hamilton (nee Choppin)

From: Sweet, Colm
Pit Name:Cwm
Location:Merthyr Tydfil

Memory: My grandfather Jesse Sweet worked in a colliery near Merthyr Tydfil around 1920 and was subsequently laid off possibly when the pit closed. My Great grandfather also worked as a pitman in the area and lost part of his arm in an accident possibly the 1927 disaster at Cwm. I would like to find out what pit / colliery they worked at and any records of where they lived. Thanks

From: Yarnold, Donald
Pit Name:Hollins
Location:Pensax Worcestershire

Memory: Im the Grandson of Samson Yarnold wh owned Hollins Cole mine at Pensax ,i have one photo , is there any one who has more of the mine an Samson Yarnold

From: Ruth, Susan

Memory: (You may have already received this and, if so, my apologies. My internet went out right when I submitted it...)

It’s a cool, foggy morning in April 1941. Miners are gathering at Crummies Creek to organize the day’s picket… standard picketing routine. But this morning’s different, and it doesn’t take long to find that out –

“We was just a-millin’ about, a-talkin’ about how we was gonna set up our picket line. All of a sudden, it sounded to me like we was in a war! Bullets was flyin’ all around us. Miners was a-callin’ out to take cover and took to runnin’…”

The miners had been ambushed by the opposition. They triangulated their target and controlled the high ground. The place was a killing field…and the old miner was right in the thick of it. And because of what he soon discovers, he describes it as the worst day of his life.

The above is taken from “Memory of a Miner,” a new book my husband, Dr. Michael Ruth, wrote about his dad’s true-life experiences as an old-school coal miner in “bloody Harlan” (Harlan Co KY) in the early coato mid 1900s.

We believe what his dad and mother went through – the joy and sadness, successes and failures they experienced – can be a real inspiration to those who know and love mining and miners... who are now fighting to keep the industry alive and save their jobs.

On the flip side, the old miner was also a crackerjack, both on and off the job… and his stories prove it! In addition to the difficult times, “Memory” includes ample examples of the good times they all shared together. (You can visit www.memoryofaminer.com to find out more.)

We really hope you can help us get the word out about Memory of a Miner by sharing it with your community.

Either way, our thanks to each and every one of you for the job you do every day and what it means for all of us.

From: Anstee, Stephen
Location:Blaina, Gwent

Memory: 3 generations on my Dads side of the family worked at Beynons Colliery in Blaina. My great Grandfather Thomas Anstee who I believed help to open it, my Grandfather Tom and his brothers Emlyn, Albert, John, my Dad Jeff and Emlyn's son David - all of them grew up in Westside, Blaina in the shadow of the pit. Dad started at Beynons after leaving school in 1967 and worked there until it closed at easter 1975. He recalls arriving for the afternoon shift to find the colliery in turmoil, it had turned out that a fire was burning underground and everyone was put to work filling sandbags to seal the face off, but the pit shut just a few days later. Dad was transferred to Rose Heyworth Colliery not long after and stayed there until 1986 when it shut in the wake of the miners strike. My Mams father John Robert Page (Bob) worked at Bowburn Colliery in Durham and worked in water up to his waist. He died in 1972 crippled by lung disease. Sadly, both my Grandfathers and Uncles died long before I was born, but I'm proud of every one of them and proud to have mining in my blood. God bless them all.

From: Colston, Jeff
Pit Name:Merthyr vale
Location:South Wales

Memory:

From: Hucker, Barbara
Pit Name:cambrian colliery
Location:clydach vale tonypandy

Memory: my fathers name was Richard Hucker died at the cambrian colliery 1965, left his wife Rosie, two daughters Barbara and Denise his wife was also eight months pregnant with a little girl, whom his wife named kathy, my father was 32 years old when he died, going down the pit everyday to earn a living for their family, as many miners did through the years of the coal industry, my father was a popular person leaving family and many close friends, who will never forget him,which are the same circumstances as the other 31 men who were killed on that fateful day

From: lloyd, albert
Pit Name:Taff Merthyr
Location:Bedlinog

Memory: I started in merthyr vale colliery in May 1953 when I left school at 15, I had to spend a 12 months at the Aberaman Training centre because I was so small, but after a twelve month the powers to be deemed me big enough to start in a working pit,(Iwas 4,11 tall and weighed 5 stone 11 onz)I worked in merthyr Vale for 4 1/2 years mainly in the face on the face engines, and when my farther died in 1958 I left the pit and joined the Army (I had put on 3 stone by now and grown 5 inches)I was out of the mining industry for 23 year, and worked in a variety of jobs until I re started underground in 1980 at Taff Methyr where I remained until made redundant in the early 90s, of all the job Ive had Mining was by far the best ot the lot, and for many reasons.

From: Jones, Ian
Pit Name:Roseheyworth and Oakdale Collieries.
Location:Gwent S/Wales

Memory: I started on the surface of Roseheyworth at 15 yrs old, after 12 months i went underground where i worked another 13 and a half yrs until it closed.
I then went to Oakdale where i worked in the Celynen North section, as both pits were linked. My last shift we were walking in for a day shift after hearing about an accident on the previous night shift and one of my mates said it always seems to be the biggest bloke who cops it.
I said cheers Llew, as i was the biggest well 3 hours later they were stretchering me out on what was to be my last shift underground.
A hook straightened on a chain we were using to salvage super chocks off the face using a 12 ton hydraulic ram, it hit me and before i knew what had happened i was on my back with my right foot in my left hand.
I had suffered a compound fracture of my tib and fib I threw my foot out as straight as i could as i wasn't letting anyone pull it about ( I remember those safety films from my training days only to well) and told my mate to hold my foot up to support it.
The Overman gave me a pain killing injection, i joked to him that if he didn't get it right i would make sure he would be sleeping alongside me on the stretcher.
Even with those bad memories i still love the pit and if i was fit enough i would go back tomorrow as you will not find better comradery anywhere.

From: phillips, michael
Pit Name:taff merthyr colliery
Location:bedlinog

Memory: i miss the coal mines it was the best days of my life wish they wer stil all open it was a great place to work, i spent most of my time underground crawling on my knees and working in coal face but wot i miss most is the smell of the baths or when you worked on underground someone would bring pie chips and a pint of milk down,by the time it reached you the pie and chips would be cold and milk was warm but my god it tasted so good