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Newmiller Dam


David Townend - I left school in 1957 at 15 years old and worked at the Newmiller Dam drift mine

David Townend
17 August 2013
I left school in 1957 at 15 years old and worked at the Newmiller Dam drift mine

I left school in 1957 at 15 years old and worked at the Newmiller Dam drift mine started work in the screens sorting the shale and rubbish from the coal.

Then went on to work on the top of the drift sending down empty tubs and supplies, and bringing up the coal.

I then went in to the timber yard, cutting props, bars and blocks for chocking E.T.C and sending down the supplies to the men bellow.

I then went to Woolly colliery to do my training for underground work.

My first job bellow was as a timber boy, tramming tubs and carts of timber up the tail and main gates to the coal face for the miners and spreading stone dust around the walls and roofs of the gates.  Each day of course it was getting longer and longer plus up hill and down, I had to set myself a cable hoist in some places to pull the tubs of timber up the steeper parts, but enjoyed riding the trams back to the bottom.

I enjoyed my work and often dad (Norman Townend) who was what was called a ‘Big Hitter’ (opening new drifts and faces) at the mine gave me advice, whilst being a timber boy I got finished early and then went into the end of the face top of the tail gate and helped the old guy fill his coal, he taught me how to prop up the roof and many tricks of the miners trade.

I then started going in the face and helping anyone who needed it.

Eventually I was asked if I wanted a spot on a new face in the Kent seam and was trained up for this I was 3rd man in from the tail gate.

In my 8 years at the mine I did mining, ripping, chocking and cutting also a belt man.

My grand father Arthur Townend was a lamp room man at Crigglestone colliery my brothers Alan,Trevor and Stuart all worked at Crigglestone before joining the navy.

I left the mine in 1967? and worked at Eddy Greens in Wakefield until 1970 then with family left for a new life in Australia.

I have been back on many occasions and sat in the park where the mine used to be thinking of the good times I had at this mine I would not change it for anything the friendships and trust you had down a mine can never be forgotten.

I have my dad’s old Davie lamp also my brother-in-laws, Brian Pitt, he worked at Crigglestone as a deputy also I have a collection of brass miners and coal tubs with pieces of coal from Newmiller Dam in them.

Johnny O'Brian Norman Townend Harry Ramsden (their deputy) Arny Liptrot

Left to Right   Johnny O'Brian,  Norman Townend,  Harry Ramsden (their deputy) and Arny Liptrot
(Hover over Photo for names)

My father and three friends who worked at New Miller Dam colliery for many years as what they called Big Hitters. 

This was taken in the early 50s when they were driving a new paddy drift on the Tan Yard for the New Miller Dam Colliery new mine entrance for underground workers, there were new locker rooms and showers, a very good canteen medical rooms, and managerial officers built when it was all completed.

The coal and supplies all still came up and down from the old drift on school hill; also the screens, workshops and timber yard were there.

Click Photo to Enlarge

The miners from Crigglestone some of who came straight from the mine after their shift and helped clean up the mess made by the fire that gutted the old church in Chapelthorpe during the night of the 19th June 1951. They made a wooden cross out of the burnt timber beams and got it ready so the Rev D Harrison could conduct a service on the Sunday, with no roof of course.
My father, who was at Crig at this time, is 4th from left on front row.


The above photo relates to the miners being at the Church fire, (Left) David Townend, (Right) Malcolm Barraclough both from Hall Green, inside the Church to help clean up the day after it had been gutted by the fire on the night 19 June 1951.

The choir of Thornes House Grammar School, Wakefield, sing at the evening service on Sunday in the ruins of burnt-out Chapelthorpe Church. Many of them had, a few hours earlier, helped in salvage operations following the disastrous fire at the school.

David Townend