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Bedlington Colliery collapse 1968


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Hi All

New to group but doing some digging on a relative of mine who was involved in a mining accident/collapse on 7th February 1968 he was badly injured in the mine all i can find out he was working in Bedlington A pit, last date i have is 1953 as i have a authorised person slip for 'A' pit for cutting machines in 1953 he may have moved to another local pit but cannot find any information or records of any accidents for this date. I've been to woodhorn archives and cannot find anything there but didn't really have a good look.

the story i have been told is that my great uncle was a hewer at the pit, the pit collapsed on him and he told the other miners who were trying to rescue him to leave him as they were unable to free him, but he managed to get himself free and get himself out of the pit, when taken to hospital the doctors said to him that after an accident like this and with the injures he had he should have been dead but he made a recovery and was left disabled because of the accident but still went on to live a some what normal life until he passed away in 1999

has anyone heard or has information on a collapse or any accidents from local pits in 1968?

any help would be much appreciated 

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Hi 

My great uncle was called Stephen miller 1919 - 1999 from Blyth i know he was a miner in 1939 as the census has his occupation on it and he was in the home guards during the second world war (don't know if he would still be working down the pit at that time) then went back to mining after the war 

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Stephen - you wrote: "... he was in the home guards during the second world war (don't know if he would still be working down the pit at that time)...".

It's likely that he continued working down the pit at the same time as being in the Home Guard - my Maternal Grandfather was in a similar situation in County Durham.  One of the tasks the Home Guard had was 'guarding' their own pits and linked railway lines.  They would finish their shifts, home for a wash in the 'tin bath' and a bite to eat, then down to the local hall for parade and patrol/guard duty. 

Edited by Symptoms
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I've now searched the local newspapers as they usually have good reports of mining accidents in the area. I haven't been able to find anything in either the Blyth News or the Morpeth Herald. This suggests to me that it may have been a minor accident with only one person involved. Something similar happened to my father at Netherton pit when he was the only man injured in a small roof fall. That never made the newspapers either. I'll keep searching.

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On 27/05/2022 at 14:47, Canny lass said:

I've now searched the local newspapers as they usually have good reports of mining accidents in the area. I haven't been able to find anything in either the Blyth News or the Morpeth Herald. This suggests to me that it may have been a minor accident with only one person involved. Something similar happened to my father at Netherton pit when he was the only man injured in a small roof fall. That never made the newspapers either. I'll keep searching.

I've got a couple of newspaper cuttings about my dad's death on 19th December 1972. Not sure which paper. I think we mostly got the Evening Chronicle.

16537538806124711398395092330504.jpg

16537539657846378181585569385435.jpg

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On 26/05/2022 at 13:40, Stephen Clark said:

Hi All

New to group but doing some digging on a relative of mine who was involved in a mining accident/collapse on 7th February 1968 he was badly injured in the mine all i can find out he was working in Bedlington A pit, last date i have is 1953 as i have a authorised person slip for 'A' pit for cutting machines in 1953 he may have moved to another local pit but cannot find any information or records of any accidents for this date. I've been to woodhorn archives and cannot find anything there but didn't really have a good look.

the story i have been told is that my great uncle was a hewer at the pit, the pit collapsed on him and he told the other miners who were trying to rescue him to leave him as they were unable to free him, but he managed to get himself free and get himself out of the pit, when taken to hospital the doctors said to him that after an accident like this and with the injures he had he should have been dead but he made a recovery and was left disabled because of the accident but still went on to live a some what normal life until he passed away in 1999

has anyone heard or has information on a collapse or any accidents from local pits in 1968?

any help would be much appreciated 

Hi Stephen. See my newspaper cuttings I've just posted.

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Hi Anne, that would seem to be the Journal as it's written by a Journal reporter. Fatal accidents were more easily reported on than non-fatal accidents as information was freely available to reporters through the coroner's courts, as in your dad's case. I haven't had a look at either the Journal or the Evening Chronicle for Stephen's relative yet but I'm hoping to get a bit of time next week.

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5 minutes ago, Canny lass said:

Hi Anne, that would seem to be the Journal as it's written by a Journal reporter. Fatal accidents were more easily reported on than non-fatal accidents as information was freely available to reporters through the coroner's courts, as in your dad's case. I haven't had a look at either the Journal or the Evening Chronicle for Stephen's relative yet but I'm hoping to get a bit of time next week.

Thanks. I'd forgotten about The Journal!

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Hi Anne,and Steven,welcome to the forum!

Steven,I worked at the A pit at Bedlington,[the "Auld Pit"],from being transferred there from Choppington B pit..[the "HighPit"],in 1965.

I worked at the auld pit from 1965 until it closed in 1971,and knew LOTS of the workforce,in all the different shifts..and obviously,through time,I have forgotten some.

However,as my friends on this forum all know,my memory overall of my mining years is still pretty vivid,and I remember well,the fella who trained me on the coalcutters [the old AB15 Cutters!],as well as my other face training operations.

His name was Billy Miller,and he lived at Grange Park in Bedlington,in his later years.

AAHH!..a thought just came to me as a was thinking Billy was the only Miller at the Aad Pit,then it suddenly came to me,it cud have been aroond 1966-7-8-ish,when a Shearer Operator,[the Shearer-Man],called Dusty Miller,was buried under a roof fall when he was at the face side of the shearer machine.

The stone was aboot 10 feet lang and two feet thick..and was partly lying on the machine,and partly crushing the life out of poor Dusty.[a never knew his first name..we all had nicknames like my silly nickname on here.]

His Marras were standing in the roof cavity where the stone had fallen from,using big Mel's ["Mallets"!],swinging the lang shafted mel's above their heads to hit the stone to break it so they could free Dusty.

I wasn't in that shift,but came in onto the face in the following shift,and we were still breaking up the stones and timbering the roof to make it safe lang after Dusty was carried outbye on the stretcher..half dead.

Well,we met the rest of the marra's of Dusty's shift,as they were travelling outbye,and we were coming inbye to start our  shift,and they told us that Dusty was screaming for the lads to "Get them dogs off me back"..he was obviously delirious with pain and shock.

As time had gone by,with the lads constantly pounding away at this massive stone frantically ,Dusty had started screaming at them to leave him alone,which,of course they couldn't..and no way could Dusty move a stone weighing a few tons which completely covered him as he was pinned down on his chest.

Now we all know about false and misleading reports by Journalists who havent the faintest idea what they are reporting about,and it is quite possible that Dusty was your Relative,Steven,cos in those years I quoted,I was about 22-3-4 yrs old,and Dusty was one of the "Old- timers"..although he may only have been in his fifties,BUT!..to a lad in his twenties...fifty yrs old....was old!! [now,at 78 yrs old in July,fifty is just a skittering young ched!..as we used to say!

As Dusty was recovering at home,his close Marras brought reports back to us lads in the team,about his progress,and said  he was healing champion,but his Back was so bad,he had to go down the stairs on his backside..he couldn't walk up or down normally.

Now I was transferred to Bates Pit in 1971,just a few weeks before the Aad pit closed for good,so lost touch with a lot of me aad Marras.

Now the first person I worked with at Bates Pit,was a Seam Overman underground called Jack Miller,he had served in the second world war,and was a real canny likeable fella,a Bricklayer by trade originally,before joining the pits.

His  Brother was Seargant Miller at Bedlington Police Station in the 1950's.

Another fella I worked with at Bates Pit was a well-known local gardener and nurseryman,called....Stevie Clark..!!

Then there was Ernie Clark,wor Pit Electrician,another smashing fella ..me cog wheels are running dry noo,and starting ti slaa doon,if a can mind of any mair Millers,aal let ye knaa Steven.

Gud luck wi ya search,Steven,hope aav been a wee bit o' help,if only ti eliminate the fellas from ya search.

Cheers folks!

Bill.

 

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Anne,I was so engrossed in my thoughts ,trying to help Steven,and didn't think to say how sorry a was to read about your Dad's accident.

Life down the mines was really rough,and in an accident  scenario,miles inbye,in roadways roughly blasted out from solid stone strata,and swalleys..[dips],in the roadways sometimes flooded up to the waist..with oily black stinking water which was freezing..it was really stressful,sheer physically demanding hard work,to carry wor Marra's outbye on a stretcher.[we often used to wonder who would be the next one we would be carrying out..maybe it would be one of us..and it often was...]

Conditions like that never existed in any other industry,no Doctor's,no Ambulances..no nothing..not even toilets or washbasins..I mean really barbaric..

We fought in 1984 to keep the pits open,but in my old age,and looking back,we knew nowt else..it was wor heritage..with a hefty legacy of injuries and suffering ill-health,maybe it was a blessing that they were closed.

Anne,you should always be proud to tell anyone that your Dad was a Coalminer,Salt of the earth,and the Industrial Revolution would never have got us to where we are now ,without the sacrifices made by the Coalminers of the past..a rare breed!

Kindest regards,Bill.

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Anne,just another thought,out of interest,if  you haven't already,you may be interested to see the photo's which I took underground down Bates' Pit in 1986,just before the pit was shut down for good.

They are in the gallery under the heading Bates Pit Photographs.

Cheers,

Bill.

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5 hours ago, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Anne,just another thought,out of interest,if  you haven't already,you may be interested to see the photo's which I took underground down Bates' Pit in 1986,just before the pit was shut down for good.

They are in the gallery under the heading Bates Pit Photographs.

Cheers,

Bill.

Thanks so much for that information, Bill. It takes someone who was there to tell it how it really was. I never knew at the time how hard and dangerous it was for the miners. I'll always be proud of what my dad was. I hope your accounts help Steven find out what he is looking for. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi again, @Stephen Clark

I've now had a chance to go through the Evening Chronicle and the Journal but even there I didn't find any reports of mining accidents for the date or name  you gave. I think HPW's detailed account of the accident involving "Dusty Miller" may well be the nearest we get.

Edited by Canny lass
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Hi Canny Lass,a think aal the facts about Dusty Miller ,which are as vivid in my memory as if it was yesterday,lead ye ti think it was the Accident Steve is wondering about. Take my account against some unknown,uneducated [in mining that is!],reporter,who throws his notepad in to a similarly uneducated editor,with absoloutely no disrespect intended...

Unless we throw a different light on the matter,I would go for poor Dusty..he suffered agonising injuries and pain,on a day which started quite happy with a bunch of gud Marra's.

The one fact I left out was hearsay to me,and I don't know how true it was except for the fact it was told to me by my own very trustworthy Marra's..

The Coalface Overman,[in overall charge of the face],left the scene of the accident,and crawled off the face and sat in the High Roadway which was the Tailgate..[return airway road].

He had taken his pit helmet off,and sat with his head in his hands,breaking down,and said to the tailgate Stonemen.."A canna gaan back doon there...a canna.."..in those exact words...which,at the time,he was heavily criticised for,but as we get older, a bet some of those who criticised,including myself,think back and understand that Man's feelings..he was in charge,and should have been organising a stretcher,informing the Surface to have an Ambulance,organising getting Dusty off the face on the stretcher..organising who should be stretcher bearers,and relief bearers,8 men in all..4 men on carrying the stretcher one man at each handle,and the other four to take over at every ten minutes or so..[it's not like smooth pavement down there you know...]..a one- mile carrying of a 16 stone fella on a stretcher,over rough,wet,stony uneven ground,then a climb of a quarter of a mile up a 1- in 6 gradient "Drift" roadway,then 200 yards to the shaft bottom,to be put in a cage to be wound 1000 feet to the surface...all the time Dusty would have been passing out,through being joggled around during the journey outbye and to Bank..[the surface]..I have been a stretcher bearer a lot of times from aged 19 yrs old down the High Pit at Choppington,and at other pits,and have carried 18 stone fellas,believe me..itwas arduous very heavy work,but when it happens,urgency of the situation,and care for your Marra on the stretcher,overrides the pain you feel.

I didn't intend to go into so much detail,but feel it is necessary to try and tell the facts as best as I can,what it was like down there.

This Overman was close friends with Dusty and the whole team,it was like watching a family member suffering..so now,in my old age,and I speak only for myself,I feel guilty for even just thinking about any criticism on this fella..he died a long time ago,but if he was her with us now,I would be apologising for my thoughts..I was only about 23-24-ish yrs old at the time.[young and hotheaded..as they used to say!]

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What an experience for anybody to go through! I'm not surprised you remember all the details, HPW, Something like that must be extremely difficult to forget for all involved - everyone of them traumatized in one way or another. My heart goes out to Dusty but equally it goes out to the overman and to those who carried out the rescue. Thanks for sharing.

Sadly, I believe that Dusty is Stephen's relative.

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