A Unique History From My Work Diaries - 1953 - 1990
NCB from 1st January 1947 … No 4 Sub-Area, No 4 Area, East Midlands Division ...
North Notts Area 1967 to 1986, British Coal 1986 to 1990, British Mining Consultant 1990-1992
Page - 1 - Revised -
The Office block to the right was built in 1870 for the staff of the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd
Ground floor: 1953 … Manager’s Office, Chief Clerk Jack Limmer, Training Officer Jack Clews, Safety Officer Fred Daft, Fire Officer Mod Jones and Ventilation Officer Jack Barker.
Prior to Survey offices being created at Pleasley (1954), Silverhill and Sutton (1955/56) when the staff moved to their respective colliery accommodation all Survey staff worked from this building and only attended their relevant colliery to carry out survey duties underground or surface or when sent for by the relevant Manager or others.
First Floor: A large office at right hand end of the building with 4 windows had 2 large tables, one to the left shared by the Sub-Area Surveyor, the Lady Tracer and Silverhill Surveyor and his Assistant and Apprentice and the one to the right for Pleasley Surveyor and Teversal Surveyor and their Assistants and Apprentices, plus there was a large print room in the middle with the smaller window and at the left hand end of the building with 2 windows was a further Office with a medium sized table for the Surveyor for Sutton Colliery and his Assistant and Apprentice.
The Sub Area Surveyor had a small personal Office within the large Office. There was a steel set of 100 pigeon holes along one wall in the big Office to hold all the plans that were rolled up and drawers in the tables for plans that were to be kept flat.
There were only only 4 stools, one for each Surveyor and one chair for the Sub Area Surveyor in his small office, so everyone else had to stand up, generally leaning on the table to do jobs.
There was a bathroom adjacent with bath and WC and 5 small wooden lockers above the bath, one for each of the Surveyors and Sub Area Surveyor.
Office jobs consisted of drawing, tracing, calculations of surveys and levellings, copying up underground work into office books, plotting, construction of plans and sections, use of printing machine, measuring and plotting and preparing plans of serious incidents and accidents including fatal accidents, Working plan, Support plans, Ventilation plans, Rescue & Fire-fighting plans, Deputy’s Districts, Means of Egress, Dust Zones, Conveyors, Electrical plans, Haulages, Surface plans and Dirt tips, Boreholes and geological information, SM1 forms from Surveyor to Manager informing him of hazards such as old workings, gas, water etc, Mining reports, yearly scaling of workings to calculate tonnages for various Parishes, making notices, attending meetings, colouring plans by paint or pencils or stippling various prints off negatives, plus other numerous tasks …. such as answering queries or mainly taking messages by using the Ericsson wall-mounted telephone with ear flaps and wallowing handle connected to the colliery switchboard. There was one ordinary telephone in the private office but no dial and that was also connected to the colliery switchboard situated in the Power House.
Other miscellaneous duties included making the fire before the bosses arrived and dampening it down at knock off, but not a minute before, removing the table dust covers first thing and covering the tables at shift end and similarly not a minute before, plus tea mashing and pot washing and cleaning up, printing for everyone, running errands etc, etc. I did have to go up to Silverhill Group Wages department every Thursday (and be quick about it) for my pay packet.I had to walk there and back or get a ride on the train occasionally but not one of the gaffers who had a car ever offered to take me whether it was hail, snow, wind or blow.
On Saturday morning two linesmen from each colliery came to the office from the 4 pits to make up several copies of the progress plans with up to date coal face and heading positions measured the day before, plus the 3 men at each pit plus the Sub-Area Surveyor and Tracer. My task on Saturdays besides any job I had been given from any of the Surveyors was to mash tea for all using a tea pot that held 7 cups. Including everyone there was a complement of 22 so I had to mash 3 times and wash the cups also in between.
Sub-Area Surveyor Clarence Skeavington (1347 Surveyor’s Certificate number) Lady Tracer June Baker.
Teversal Colliery Denis Hill (DH) (2186) Surveyor and Keith Mitchell (KM) (3…) Assistant and Robert Bradley (RB) (self) Apprentice plus 2 linesmen Tom Pickering (TP) and Les Ryde (LR).
Assistants and Apprentices were seconded to all pits if or when required, so as to gain experience of all methods of surveying practice that varied sometimes pit by pit …
Manager Jimmy Wright (3926 Manager’s certificate number), Undermanager Jim Davies (1489)
Manpower 786 underground and 166 on surface
Silverhill Colliery Percy W Hett (PH) (2111) Surveyor and Frank Gearing (FG) Assistant (uncert) and Colin Burlinson (CB) (3867 … 1957) plus 4 linesmen.
Manpower 1070 and 230 on surface
Manager Robert Moncur (1793), Undermanager Joe Morley (2nd).
Sutton Colliery Jack Brown (JB) (2414) Surveyor and Colin Hardy (CH) (3168) Assistant and Geoff Austin (GA) (4…) Apprentice plus 3 linesmen, staff Alan Elliott (AE).
Manpower 462 underground and 155 surface
Manager Horace Gubbins (2928), Undermanager Andrew Stones (2nd)
Pleasley Colliery Norman Smedley (NS) (2…) Surveyor and Ted Bucklow (EB) (3…) Assistant and Peter Holmes (PH) (4…) Apprentice plus 5 linesmen.
Manager Fred Boam (4101) Undermanager, F Towndrow (3329 / 2nd) Charlie Hall (2nd).
Manpower 1131 underground and 236 on surface
Planner Frank England (uncert) Area Surveyor Leslie H Watson (578), Assistant Area Surveyor Roland Mettam (1…). Other Sub-Area Suveyors, Clem Jackson, E Emerson, Freddie Parr.
The following notes show the progression through their carreers
of people I worked with at some period
Clary Skeavington (1347) Sub Area Surveyor since 1947, the title would be changed first to Group Surveyor then changed again to Senior Surveyor in North Notts Area, a position I would aspire to in the new Nottinghamshire Area, being promoted from Surveyor at Ollerton. Clary had been Apprentice at Hucknall, Assistant at Ollerton, a Butterley Co pit before transferring to the Teversal group of pits owned by Stanton Ironworks Co as an Assistant to Jimmy Burlinson in 1940 /41? prior to Nationalisation of the mines 1 January 1947.
Norman Smedley (2…) was promoted from Surveyor at Pleasley to a Group Surveyor in South Wales in 1954 where he was then promoted to Area Chief Surveyor. In 1967 when the Areas were reorganised he was appointed as Area Surveyor and Minerals Manager for North Derbyshire Area at Bolsover HQ.
Denns Hill (2186) transferred from Teversal to Pleasley then was promoted to a Group Surveyor in the West Midlands and subsequently as Subsidence Surveyor.
Percy Hett (2111) Surveyor at Silverhill (previously Sutton) was appointed as Mining Records Officer, originally at Divisional HQ, then Eastwood Hall. Jim Hanson (2365) succeeded him at Silverhill in 1956 being transferred from New Hucknall and then he was transferred again in 1978 to replace Cheslaw Stasiewicz (3030) Surveyor at Teversal who had been transferred there on the closure of Kirkby Summit in 1967. Ches had previously been Surveyor at Cotes Park.
Charles J Whyte (2678) was appointed Surveyor at Cotes Park before Cheslaw Stasiewicz (3030) and was then transferred to Annesley. From there he was appointed Surveyor at Calverton before transferring to South Notts Area HQ at Bestwood in Subsidence dept. He was subsequently promoted to Deputy Area Surveyor before succeeding Arthur Morley (1275) at North Notts Area HQ, Edwinstowe in 1974.
Leslie H Watson (578) Area Chief Surveyor at No4 Area HQ, Huthwaite until 1962 and was replaced by Arthur Morley (1275), Assistant Area Surveyor at Cole Orton, S Derbys / Leicester Area.
Jack Brown (2414) was transferred from Sutton to Pleasley and was promoted to a Group Surveyor No4 Area, then South Notts at Bestwood HQ in 1967 and finally Surveyor in charge of the Vale of Belvoir project, including Asfordby.
Brian Barlow (2730) 1953 an ex British Railways Surveyor with experience at Silverhill was appointed Surveyor at Teversal, transferred to Bilsthorpe and was promoted to Senior Surveyor and finally Deputy Chief Surveyor and Minerals Manager for Nottinghamshire Area.
Keith Mitchell (3…) 1954 transferred from Assistant at Teversal to Newstead as Assistant then as a Planner in North Derbyshire before joining Caledonian Mining Co as an Agent.
Ted Bucklow (3…) Assistant at Pleasley changed over to the mining side and after being a Ventilation Engineer in South Notts Area was promoted to Deputy Area Ventilation Engineer for the Nottinghamshire Area.
Tony Caunt (3…), Linesman at Pleasley qualified as a Surveyor then changed over to mining also (8028). He became Assistant Undermanager at Silverhill, Undermanager at Newstead, Deputy Manager and Manager at Bentinck, Production Manager and finally Chief Mining Engineer for South Notts then Nottinhamshire Area.
Colin Hardy (3168) (transferred from Sutton as Assistant to Pleasley then was promoted to Surveyor for the mine at Swadlincote and then Cadley Hill.
Colin Burlinson (3857) would transfer from Assistant at Silverhill to No4 Area Planning department for a while before leaving to work at John Sankey Estate Agents ganing experience for opening his own Estate Agency before joining a Building Contractor firm based in Manchester.
Frank Gearing (FG), a Bevin Boy at Silverhill in 1944, joined the survey staff in 1946 but never did qualify but had a spell in Planning at Huthwaite HQ before obtaining a job with a Tunnelling Co, Tarmac doing the Bala Dam Hydro Power Scheme in Wales and he would finish his career as Engineer in charge for Tarmac Co in the NE.
Peter Holmes (PH) (4…) Apprentice then Assistant at Pleasley left to the Port of London Authority in 1962 but eventually arrived back doing work for the NCB as a Surveyor for Shephard Hill Contractors for Dirt tips.
Geoff Austin (GA) (4…) Apprentice at Sutton left his position as Assistant at Silverhill to go to work as a Surveyor in a Copper mine in Zambia, He returned after 2 or 3 years back to Silverhill as Assistant, transferred back to Sutton and would be promoted to Surveyor at Sutton and finally transferred to Bilsthorpe.
Gordon Ison (GI) (2633) transferred to Sutton on the closure of Shirland in 1965 then he was promoted to Senior Surveyor at No3 Area HQ Edwinstowe. I would take his position when he retired in 1986.
Trevor Speed (TS) (4705) similarly left his position as Assistant at Silverhill for Zambia came back as Assistant and was transferred to Blidworth where he was promoted to Surveyor for Blidworth after John Eyre.
Alan Elliott (AE) (3…) moved from Sutton to Assistant Surveyor at Silverhill then transferred to Planning Department at No4 Area HQ Huthwaite then as an Assistant Planner in North Notts Area at Edwinstowe HQ.
Stan Brunskill (SB) (2…) originating from Dean & Chapter, NE had to relinquish his post as Area Geologist in 1967 and was allotted to the Boring Team in North Notts Area with Maurice Lamb Boremaster from No4 Area and Eddie Gray Boremaster from No3 Area. As part of the reorganisation of the NCB a Geologist had to have a minimum qualification of a BSc in Geology, a Surveyor’s Certificate did not count, even though he had been doing the job since 1948. Unfortunately it lead to a spate of young newly qualified Geologists joining the Areas and hardly any of them were conversant with coal or coal mining or had underground knowledge and generally they ended up asking the Surveyors for advice in their early career! And of course they were never sent for by the Colliery Manager when in the hot seat to answer a query immediately about a fault, swilley, washout, roof fall, bad ground, coal or dirt section, gradient, borehole etc, etc … it was always the Surveyor … I never knew why we needed Geologists at all!
Barrie Tideswell (BT) (3…) 1954 on Group staff from Jan 1955 was appointed Assistant Geologist to Stan Brunskill (2…) at Huthwaite No4 HQ in July 1957 but in April 1967 on the reorganisation of the NCB and not having a BSc similarly was transferred to North Derbyshire Area working with the Boring team.
Johnny Wilmot (3…) on Group staff from January 1957 transferred to Assistant at Pleasley in Mar 1962 for a while and latterly was in the Subsidence department. Denis Jackson (44..) Linesman at Pleasley became an Assistant at Pleasley, transferred to Kirkby transferred back to Pleasley and he too finally finished in the Subsidence Department in North Derbys Area HQ at Bolsover.
Johnny de Stefano May 1956 to October 1957 followed by Don Burton Nov 1957 to July 1959 were Surveyors with British Railways as was Brian Barlow before them at Silverhill. They were allotted to the Teversal Group to obtain the requisite number of underground hours and experience required by M & Q A / JEB Examination body. I would be appointed a MQB Examiner when in my capacity as Senior Surveyor in 1986.
Mal Smith (31..) Assistant at Bilsthorpe promoted to Surveyor at Teversal 1957. Left to be a Mineral Valuer with Inland Revenue 1958. Bernard T Bailey (2728) was transferred from Cotes Park to Teversal to replace him. He left and joined the North Notts Civil Engineering Department on Dirt Tips in 1968. (sadly he would commit suicide by hanging after retiring,)
And yet two other tradgedies … Ian McCraight (2040) ex Surveyor at Calverton promoted to Group Surveyor and Brian Halliwell (2…) ex Surveyor at Bevercotes who had joined the Area Tunnelling Team both committed suicide as well. I recall the Nurse at Teversal doing the same thing within a year of me starting work … Miss Edwards?
I was offered a visit underground at Shipley Woodside Colliery near Ilkeston by a friend of my Uncle Jack Osborme. I think he must have been a Group Ostler as he normally worked at Moorgreen. Although I enjoyed the experience of the first scary ride on a cage dropping into the pit at what seemed like lightning speed and the great rush of air when the cages passed at mid shaft, then the strange feeling as the cage slowed down seeming like you were going back up. Walking underground along a conveyor roadway then up an airgate before crawling through a coal face where every piece of loose coal on the floor seemed to dig into my kneecaps, and being very careful not to bang my head as I only had a soft leather helmet whist Jack and his mate just had cloth flat caps. It was about a mile there and back. I helped feed the ponies in the pit bottom stables which was quite enjoyable. But on stepping off the cage at the surface I vowed never to go underground again. However I would do … 6 years later.
LG or DG denotes Loader Gate or Delivery Gate.
LH denotes Left Hand Supply Gate. RH denotes Right Hand Gate, TG denotes Top Gate and BG is Bottom Gate. MG is Middle Gate. AW is Airway or Supply Gate. TG is Tail Gate, again a Supply Gate for materials.