Our school caretaker used to work in a coal mine. As part of our history topic, looking at the history of Ossett, he came into our class to tell us about his life working in the mine. From this, we wrote a descriptive story detailing what we thought it would be like to be a miner.
From the age of five and up, I worked down in the dirty dusty pit, so every morning I stumbled out of bed at around 04:30. Once up, I ambled wearily down the stairs, and went into the deserted kitchen to wolf down my breakfast speedily. After I had eaten, I packed my snap (lunch), making sure I didn't accidently pack any cold meat or silver paper because I didn't want to cause an explosion! After all this, I picked up my lunch and left.
Once I arrived at the pit, I strolled over to my locker and collected my overalls, lamp, battery pack, knee pads, ear protectors, gloves and steel toe-capped boots. After I had finally got my gear on, I strode to the pit (quite slowly as my boots were extremely heavy). Once there, I clocked in by giving my circle check to the banksman. Before I proceeded, I also got checked for contraband such as matches or cigarettes. Finally, we were all prepared to start work, so we squashed together into the small, cramped and metal cage ready for the lengthy descent ahead of us...
After a while (almost 3 miles underground), my stomach began to turn as I caught the last glimpse of daylight. Before I knew it, we juddered as the cage came to a prompt sudden halt. Soon enough, the onsetter lifted the great iron gates which were holding us inside, and then a gigantic wave of miners flooded out, pushing and shoving each other.
When everyone had made their way out of the cage, we were greeted by our deputy who wrote our identity numbers on the blackboard (my number was 89), to tell us what our job would be that day. Most commonly, I would have to mine coal in the narrow tunnels near the coal face although sometimes, I would have to do something different.
Finally, after everyone had been given their job, I made my way through the large network of low, dusty and dark tunnels to find some of the camouflaged black coal (it was camouflaged because of the limited amount of light down the mine). When I eventually found some coal, I pulled out my pick to loosen it. When it was loose enough, I used my hefty shovel to collect it before I loaded it onto the man riders. By the time I had finished, I was always ready (and very excited) for my snap!
Soon enough, one of my fellow miners alerted me that it was the end of the day, and together we made our way back to the pit bottom, meeting friends along the way. Once we arrived back at the pit bottom, we squashed back into the damp dingy cage like we did earlier that day. As the cage ascended, a silence as deadly as darkness arose and my stomach, yet again, began to squirm. Luckily, my eyes were soon greeted by pencils of blinding light, and the smell of fresh air met my nose.
Before we could go into the relaxing shower , we had to give the banksman our square tag, so we knew we'd left the mine. After we made our way back to base to hang up our weary lamps for the Monday ahead, we heaved our now ink-black clothes into our net wash bags, hauled our bags into the laundry room (making sure our identity numbers were safely attached).
Finally, we all joyously took a shower together, where we enjoyed watching the dirt and grime trickle down the drain. Because we had an unspoken bond, working many hours down the pit together, we often washed each other's coal covered backs. Another favourite time of day of mine (on a Friday), was when we collected our well-earned wage of £147 from the cash office. I was extremely happy to collect this as my money put food on the table for my family for yet another week.