"Excerpt from"
Hi! my name is Bill Riley. Excerpt 2

Head Stocks   I started work at Shirebrook Colliery in December of 1968. I was not a stranger to the village of Shirebrook we, my wife & I, often visited my Sister-in-law and her family who then lived in Merchant Street, (it used to be at the bottom of Vernon Street ), so I already knew a few people before coming to live in Shirebrook.
Working at a different pit did not worry me I thought one hole in the ground was pretty much the same as any other. I was shown the pit head baths, the deployment centre, the time office and the lamp room etc. when I signed my contract of employment. So on my first actual working day I new the routine. I went to the deployment centre to report for work prior to changing in to my work clothes in the baths. This was a new system to me, at my other pits I had changed clothes first. This system allowed the deploying officials that bit longer to sort out what jobs could be done with the manpower available. The next step was to pick up my two brass checks with my unique identification number on them, put my pit lamp on and make my way to the shaft side. Hard At Work
There was quite a long queue of men waiting to be dropped down the shaft in the chair (cage), to my amazement the queue disappeared very quickly. When I got to the shaft side I realized why, the chair was massive, it consisted of 3 decks, each deck holding about 35 men. I had never experienced a chair as big as this one, 105 men descending the shaft in a single operation. As I entered the chair I gave one of my brass checks to the banksmans assistant and kept the other one until the end of the shift. This was a safety system so that management knew who was in the pit, ( check in and check out ) each man was responsible for handing over his own checks when entering the mine and handing the other check to the onsetter or his assistant when leaving the mine. (the system was often abused, but that's another story).

Pleasley Pit
Local Monument to Mining

Pleasley Pit Non Working Mine(c) Mr G. Flemming 29/11/99

((c) G.Flemming 29/11/99)
  When the chair was fully loaded, the banksman signaled to the winder to lower the chair to its destination. We started dropping, slowly at first, then we gathered speed and it soon became completely dark as we left the lights above, this being my first descent of this shaft I was unaware of how far we had to travel. After a while a flash of light entered the chair as we passed the Top hard seam, then we dropped into darkness again. This was repeated once more as we passed the Main hard seam and headed towards the Deep soft seam where I was going to work. Although I had a cap lamp it was the usual practice for miner's to wait until they reached the alighting point before switching their lamps on. After all the panoramic view of the shaft left much to be desired, and it gave an opportunity for the eyes to become accustomed to the darkness.
   The further we dropped into the black abyss the warmer it became. Now I knew why a lot of the men were wearing shorts, and I began to realize that Shirebrook colliery was not the same as my previous holes in the ground.
Over the years the Deep soft seam proved to be a perpetual challenge between man and the forces of nature. Mother nature continually fighting to close the gaps (coal faces and roadway tunnels) which man had developed.
This was the beginning of my working days at Shirebrook where I met, and worked with some fantastic men, and some real characters.

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