Mining Autobiography By Horace Lister.
This section is a short abstract from
Horace Lister’s upcoming book
Recording his Career as a Distinguished Mining Engineer.
1950 to 1970
Back Ground Picture :
operated a ‘Yankee’ mining system of pillar and stall extraction, using short wall Joy under cutters with 7 ft jibs, ‘fired’ to a depth of 7 ft.
By complete contrast, Bank Hall operated an advancing ‘longwall’ system e
photo of loading operations
during record week,
which achievd 45 metres
advance in 5 days employing over 1,000 men. Spa Pit had to be avoided at all costs due to floods and generally wet conditions.
From The Book:
During my initial training period, trips to various pits were always enjoyable, if not frightening to a 15 year old. But the most frightening trip which you could ever go on, was the one to Huncoat, which was always without a spare lorry (wagon) to transport up to 20 trainees back to the Bank Hall training centre. On these occasions we were expected to catch the bus, and the timing of the bus for us coincided with finishing time at Accrington Nori brickworks, from whence the big girls covered in red dust from the yard would emanate, and God help the youngsters like myself, who would immediately be debagged and your old man would be covered in red dust. It was terrifying, and you would pray that the bus would reach Wood Top, where most of them left the bus. It was so frightening that on one occasion, I walked halfway to Burnley rather than face that experience. Dick Hitchen
Let me explain to you who Dick Hitchen was and why he left a lifetime impression on me as a young man. His nicknames at the pit were; Dick wit' dogs, broken clogs, new TV, and rotten lungs; that’s how considerate the blokes were in those days.
The nicknames for different people were endless; Bill wit' dolls was given to a very decent bloke who’d been seen in Thomson’s park pushing a pram containing twins, (nobody knew his proper name), There was Corky the cat after the bloke who tried to grow a moustache but failed. Another was called Doris, because he was a bit effeminate.
I was lucky, they called me Aitch. To continue with the story about Dick, I had to work with him for 20 days to complete my CPS (close personal supervision), and met him sat in a manhole drinking tea out of an enormous flask. His first remarks to me were dus’t catch yon Padiham bus in’t mornings, ah think ah’ve sin thi on’t top deck.
He made me start work with his shovel when he had finished his first cup, he showed me how to hold a long handled shovel without catching my knuckles. Manholes were 10 yards apart on the Bank Hall Rise 1 belt road or intake airway, so that when I’d cleaned 10 yards of conveyor, he would shout “not so fast” you’ll soon be out of work, and he would move his padded cushion on to the next manhole to shelter from the strong wind or if it was in a damp area, he would have a long snooze, giving me strict orders to shout of him if I saw a light in the distance, so that he had chance to get out of his manhole, hide his cushion, and take my shovel and be using it by the time whoever it was came alongside.
When he got to know me he would tell me some intimate details of when he was a lad, mostly sexual [he dreamt a lot about bygone days], but one of his stories, I believe to be true. Conjugal Express
There were no pithead baths at Wood End pit, so the men went home in their black, and although he was married, he would walk along the banks of the river Calder on Fridays, when he was on afternoons, and meet his lady friend. He would take with him to work a folded Burnley Express and so that he could have sex without dirtying Rosy, he would unfold the paper, tear out a small hole, place it between them and have conclude his conjugal outing!
One night after meeting Rosy and having sex, it went on a little longer than usual, and being Friday, his wife was wondering where he’d got to and became suspicious. When he walked in the house, she accused him of having another woman; ‘don’t be silly who would have me in my pit rags’? The tin bath was filled ready for him, so she said let’s wait and see.