By Andrew Hirst
April 18, 2017 - It was an industry that was once the very lifeblood of Yorkshire, England's communities ... but it has now gone forever.
The coal mines in the country have shut but a new book is out called Yorkshire Collieries 1947-1994 which will be unveiled at the National Coal Mining Museum for England near Grange Moor.
The book has been written by former under manager Eddie Downes along with former ex-colliery worker Tony Banks and will be launched on April 27 between 1pm and 4pm.
Ex miners Tony Banks and Eddie Downes at The National Coal Mining Museum for England.
Visitors will hear Eddie speak about the book before a question and answer session and then a book signing. There will also be an interactive session with Tony on identifying objects from the Yorkshire coalfield and a chance to tour the museum’s new exhibition called For the People By The People which marks the 70th anniversary of the nationalisation of the coal industry.
In addition to examining the impact on miners the programme also reflects ongoing discussion around nationalisation of the coal industry. The exhibition incorporates memories and contributions from ex-miners, memorial groups and the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation.
The book includes the 137 pits which came under the remit of the NCB and British Coal Corporation.
Eddie Downes, co-author of the book Yorkshire Collieries 1947-1994.
Published by Beamreach publishing, the 680-page book takes in history, politics and sociology, covering the history of each pit – from sinking to closure – as well as topics such as Yorkshire Coal Seams, Yorkshire Disasters from 1755, The Mines Rescue Service, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Coal Board (NCB).
Eddie left school at 19 and started at a pit in the early 1970s as a roadlayer, progressing to faceworker, then junior official. At the same time he studied Mining Engineering, obtaining an OND, HND and BSc (Leeds).
He was awarded his Mine Managers Certificate in 1979 and entered colliery management in 1980, becoming mining manager of Colcrete Ltd and working at numerous British pits and mines in Canada, USA, Germany and Spain.
Eddie left coal mining at the end of 1993 and formed a manufacturing company making souvenirs from coal dust and resin. He sold the company in 2005 and worked as a landscaper until retiring in January 2008 when he began the research for his book.
Tony Banks who co-wrote Yorkshire Collieries 1947-1994 at the Lives Lived Lives lost memorial at The National Coal Mining Museum for England.
Tony went underground aged 16 as a pony driver and at 18 started coal face training. He operated ploughs, multi-jib cutters and shearers at Manor Colliery before moving to Lofthouse Colliery in 1966 and became a deputy from 1971. He was the relief overman during the Lofthouse Disaster and the subsequent rescue attempts and aftermath.
Having reverted back to deputy in 1977, Tony then worked on the shaft sinking at Wistow Mine in the Selby Complex where he became Colliery Overman in 1983 – a position he held until ill-health retirement in 1995.