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Part Time Rescue Team

Page 6

I joined the part time rescue service after three weeks of training in August 2000. We have six trainings a year taking place at various place including at the Rescue Station at Houghton-Le-Spring in county Durham (which have no coal mines at all!) We use the Sabre SEFA units giving a two hour wearing.

The names of the men (middle below, looking towards the camera, from left to right) Bob Fitzgerald (deputy and the oldest on the team), David Wardle (managing Director and owner of the pit!), Me (standing and misted up), John Dixon (face worker), Peter and Keith Richardson (deputies).

Our practice at Blenkinsopp. If you go to the link at the bottom you can download the full 21 photos.

The practice, which was one of the hardest ones I've have to do involved knocking out the prop supports and roof straps in a old working and carrying them to another board for use.

This was a full two hour wearing and involved crawling in some extremely low places to get there. In fact we had to go through the old mens workings of 1850 and down in between a fault ! You will see this on the photos as being coloured orange. This is because the place was under water and is the iron that is found in the water. The orange coloured mud that is found in the older parts of the pits is called 'ocra'. They once tried to sell it to the paint industry for colouring but I think it was no good.

The last man seen going into the drift is Kevin from the rescue station. As you can see it would have been better if we had taken our masks off !! I was a bit apprehensive taking my camera down with David being the managing director (all cameras are banned from pits unless they have a special flash due to the risk of explosions) but he was OK with it and told me "don't tell the manger mind !". He then let me know he was going to take his own camera in.

The next photos I send will be some old pictures of some rescue men and a photo taken of the Byron pit (Blenkinsopp's sister pit) which is about 100 metres from were I live. I also have some of were I live from about the 1900s and one from today to compare it with. Blenkinsopp will be about 100 metres from my house so I will be one of the few miners that actually walk to work !