Please use the poem as you wish in the promotion of the recognition of the sort of dangers miners exposed themselves to every day.
My parents were from South Wales and my father started off in the pit when he was 14. I have to say that I regard miners in a heroic light. It may be misguided to think of pitmen in this way, but, however ordinary they may be on some scales of comparison, they certainly put themselves in a daily position where heroism is likely to be called for. Of course, the rescue teams were something else again - such exceptional men even among exceptional men.
Stoke on Trent is my adopted home. I came here in the 1960s to be with my then girlfriend (since wife), Lynda. The history of Stoke fascinates me and it has been the subject of many of my poems and songs. This lyric commemorates the explosion at the Sneyd Collier, near Burslem, Stoke on Trent on New Years Day, 1942. The pitmen thought it unlucky to work on New Years Day, but went ahead anyway despite their reluctance in order to support the war effort which totally relied on the continuous production of coal. Ironically, some of those killed were 'Bevin Boys'.
I sing this song fairly frequently, but always, for obvious reasons, at the beginning of each year.
The very best of luck with all you do.
All good wishes,
ON A NEW YEARS DAY
He who dares cut the coal, old pitmen say
Bomber planes are flying, back to work it is
The winding wheel is turning, the cage at the drift
At the Banbury Crut Jig a rope begins to fray
The first down-coming tub scrapes up a spark
At the pithead wives are waiting in sorrow and in grief
Collier wives and Bevin Boys and boys in soldier suits
When the names are numbered, the roll of honour called
© W. Terry Fox