One day the Safety Officer instructed me to escort him to the Ebor Twenty Sevens. Ebor 27s was not a face but a place on the underground plans at the extreme edge of our workings. Whilst we were walking to the 27s, it was almost three miles away; Ben explained that new Coal Board policy was such that all pits were eventually to be coupled up. This meant that roadways would be driven toward other pit workings to connect them, to provide an emergency escape route. The policy was being carried out with the atom bomb in mind, they did not call it nuclear warfare then. It was thought that if disaster occurred underground and the pit bottom could not be reached, then the miners would have an alternative escape route. The same could be said if an atomic bomb was dropped in the vicinity of the pithead disabling the winding gear.

When we reached Ebor 27s all that was there was a short tail gate about six feet high and about ten yards long. The gate ended with a loose rock fall and a small opening over the rock. It would have been impossible to clamber over the rock into the opening. We were there because air was leaking through the small opening, from an adjacent pit into our workings. Robin Hood Pit at Rothwell, near Leeds was our neighbouring pit. Robin Hood miners were driving their heading towards our 27s gateway.

Ben checked for gas with his safety lamp, but it was indeterminable. There may have been a hint but not enough to be certain. Ben was not satisfied. He decided to surface and the next day return with a more sophisticated gas detector.

The next morning we returned to 27s. Ben had brought a McGlucky gas detector. It showed that there was just less than one percent of methane gas escaping from the Robin Hood workings. Ben decided that further action was necessary. Although one percent is not dangerous in open air any build up can be potentially explosive. It was necessary to monitor the air outflow.

I was instructed in the use of the gas detector and was told to remain there. An air sample was to be taken every twenty minutes and the results entered into a book Ben had brought with him. I would be relieved at the appropriate time.

I was to spend three weeks at 27s doing nothing but take samples every twenty minutes and read. After that first day I brought plenty of reading materials. The easiest and most boring job I ever had.

Go to Next Chapter or Index