You seem to be very well informed in several areas by my younger brother Joseph. But you must realise that him being 14 years younger than me, he is “nowt burralad” (However he does take his research very seriously, and I most definitely respect him for that!)
Living just a couple of hundred yards away, Phil Healy was a good friend to me in my early/mid-teens – we both shared an interest in mending old radios, TV’s, tape recorders, etc., as well as both being interested in the coalmining industry.
We spent many happy hours in his garden ‘shed’ (workshop) discussing all things electronic or mechanical. The best advice he gave me was to avoid employment in the mining industry (even though he was passionate about it himself). The worst advice he gave was to use a particular brand of industrial solvent to ‘clean-up’ my recently renovated tape deck. It seemed to be working a treat – all traces of dust, grease or grime disappeared with the wipe of a cloth. Unfortunately, the process failed to stop there. Every plastic component (including the casing and buttons) rapidly deteriorated into a mess of what can only be described as “jelly”. Nice one Phil, but I eventually forgave him. (Especially after his dog later had an unplanned experience involving the front wheel of my motorbike – see Joseph’s reasonably accurate account).
Nearby, the extensive Manners Colliery had been closed for many years. However the shafts, headgear and some of the surface buildings had been retained as an emergency-winding facility for other linked collieries in the area. I seem to recall that regular “rescue” exercises were performed. However I have some doubt as to how realistic it would have been for miners in adjacent collieries to have been rescued via this route though. Water, gas, lack of light, dubious territory and sheer distance would seem to me (as a non-miner) to be extremely adverse factors in any such proposed rescue?
Much later (1970-ish?), it was decided to clear the colliery site and fill the shafts in. A wrecking-ball crane was used to demolish most of the surface buildings, with the bright idea of bulldozing as much material as possible down the shafts. Phil recalled almost with disbelief that rail tracks, sleepers, concrete and miscellaneous ironwork was ‘dozed towards the general vicinity of one shaft, some 1200 feet deep (including the sump). Inevitably much of this blocked the shaft, forming a ‘plug’ roughly 150 feet down. And then the fun really started. Presumably due to the lack of shaft maintenance over the years and the activities of the heavy demolition team, the shaft lining collapsed one night leaving a ‘funnel’ of increasingly greater diameter. Depending upon which account you believe, the bulldozer either fell down this precipice or narrowly escaped such a fate. Either way, thousands of tons of concrete were apparently required to stabilize the surface topology, which is now adjacent to the Ilkeston (Manners Industrial Estate) Refuse Amnesty site.
“I’m not your hunting and shooting type: I’m more your shunting and hooting type!”