The pit used to work on Saturday mornings, but only certain faces produced coal. Most districts used Saturday as the time to catch up on work that had fallen behind. It was purely a voluntary shift and Ben had given me permission to work Saturdays, not for him, but for any deputy that needed a willing hand.

One Saturday morning I had got a job working in the coaling pit bottom. To describe the coaling bottom is:

As the shaft at Middleton was not wide enough to haul minecars to the surface, coal had to be pre-loaded into smaller tubs. These were the type of tubs that are described earlier on the pit bank.

After the coal has been emptied from the minecars via the tippler it runs down a short conveyor belt. At the end of the conveyor there is a loader end. The coal is fed into tubs and the tubs are pushed around on a circuit of the pit bottom eventually reaching the shaft cage. The full tubs are pushed into the cage displacing empty tubs. The empty tubs are fed around to a short downhill gradient, they are held on the gradient by means of metal lockers; steel spikes with a protecting handle. The lockers are placed into the wheels of the tub and acts as a holding device.

When a tub is filled with coal, the loader operator pulls down a long handle that stops the coal flow. The coal is held temporarily in a chute. He nods to the locker man who takes out a locker and the empty tub rolls forward into the full tub. The slight gravity at the loader end, the speed and weight of the empty tub causes the full tub to be displaced. The circuit continues.

This particular Saturday my job was to locker the empties, and hold them on the incline until the loader end man indicated that he wanted an empty to replace the full one.

To forecast the empties arrival at just the correct moment required perfect timing. At the beginning I was way off getting it exactly right, but after much practice I felt I was getting better. Towards the middle of the shift I thought I was getting perfect. The empty tub reached the full tub exactly as Dick B. pulled the loader handle to stop the flow of coal entering the tub. He did not now need to indicate I knew when an empty was required.

Dick B. the loader end operative was a natural comedian. He could turn anything around and make a joke of it. It seemed that everything he did or said was funny; a pleasant guy to be in the company of.

Dick, as tubs were to be changed over, stopped the flow of coal with the handle at his Left hand. His right hand controlled the tub. He was wearing huge boxing type metal studied gloves. They protected his hands from misplaced coal coming over the conveyor end. He always allowed his Right gloved hand to remain on the full tub until just before the empty one rammed into it to displace tubs. Exactly at that point he would remove his hand and take control of the new empty. Each time the change over I would look to make sure he removed his hand which he always did. After a while I forgot about his gloved hand, I was skilled at my job.

Just as I was beginning to think nobody could do this job better than me I released a locker. The tub began to roll. Dick was not looking at me. He had his gloved hand at the point of impact. The empty was going to ram into the full tub and Dick’s hand was in between. I shouted at Dick, but he took no notice. I screamed at him, I tried running forward to hold back the tubs forward momentum, but to no avail the tub was well on its way. He seemed to be unaware of my screams and the impending crushing of his right hand. The tubs impacted, his hand was in between them. I was almost sobbing. Dick just turned around and looked at me, grinning. He had clenched his fist within the glove and allowed only the glove to be between the tubs.

Although I could not have been held at fault, even if an accident had occurred, it did not relieve my feelings; the relief knowing Dick was okay. I almost turned angry at what he had put me through, all for a joke. He was lucky I did not attack him out of sheer relief; but there again that was Dick B.

On my travels to Ebor 7s I used to chat to the Deputy, Willie R. He was likeable old rouge and seemed to take a shine for me and I certainly to him. I was enthralled to listen to his old pit tales. I could always be guaranteed a job on 7s if I asked Willie.

One Friday I had asked if he could find me a job for Saturday morning. He had replied that although his face was not working that Saturday he could fit me in with something to do. It involved getting a pony from the stables and ‘acquiring’ some tub rails for his Right hand tail gate. His regular pony driver was off that day.

To explain a pony driver’s job:

Every morning a tail gate pony driver would hitch his pony to a number of tubs carrying pit props and bars. He would drive them from the pit bottom, via back roads, to the face of his tailgate. On reaching the face he would empty the supports, from the tubs, and throw them forward until they reached the face. When the face workers called out for the timber, he would throw them on to the conveyor. The face workers would take off as many as they required.

It was in everybody’s interests that tail gate rails were laid as near to the face as possible:

• The pony driver, had less distance to throw forward the props.
• The face worker who got the roof supports as required and on time.
• The Management, greater safety for its workers.

The face advanced about six feet (2m) a day, therefore the pony driver always had this distance every day, added to the distance he had to throw the supports forward. If the driver did not ‘acquire’ sufficient rails, his work became harder every day. Often the pony driver had so many problems reaching the district and he would be late supplying ‘his’ face.

In extreme circumstances the face would be ‘filled off’ (all the coal shovelled to the belt) and the whole eighty or so yards of roof exposed without any supports. Until all supports were properly set, face workers were in mortal danger. In later years I would be in this position and this terrifying uncertain time has to be endured.

Management never seemed to see the bottleneck or potential danger, alleviated easily by the extra orders of tub rails. There were few, if any, new tub rails sent down the pit. Pony drivers had to forage in old workings for the much sought after old rails. Often they would put themselves in potential danger in order to fulfil their needs.

Willie R. had told me to bring a chariot of six foot rings to his district, and that he would meet me in the tailgate later that morning.

I went to the stables and the stableman said I had to take out a pony called Royal. On entering Royal’s stall I wondered if I could harness him correctly. I had been shown at the training pit but could I remember? We had been told of the importance of the harness exactly fitting the horse. In some sort of fashion I managed to put the harness on the pony. If I had done the job correctly I knew not.

I was leading Royal through the air doors, down the rather steep drift road from the stables. Royal suddenly lay down on the floor and began to roll around in the dust, legs were thrashing about in the air, he was rolling over and over. I didn’t know what to do, I was a little panicky, had I done something wrong? Given him too much, too little water? Harnessed him incorrectly? I reminded myself of the strict rules governing horses underground. Had I unwittingly contravened one?

Suddenly almost as fast as Royal had gone to the ground he got up. He carried on following me as if nothing had happened. I later found out that all the horses on reaching that point in the drift enjoy a roll in the dust prior to a shift.

I hooked the chain from the pony’s halter to a chariot of rings and set out from the pit bottom. I had seen other pony drivers stop and ‘locker’ up at the top of the roadway called the Traveller Drift; the traveller drift is a long steep roadway. ‘Lockering up’ is to place, specially made, lengths of hard wood between the struts in the tub wheels. This action stops the wheels from turning. A locker acts as a brake as the metal wheels are on metal rails there is little friction, but the tubs can still move forward under pressure or gravity.

Having secured my locker at the top of the drift I urged Royal forward, which he did. Although riding on the chariots or tubs was forbidden I, like all the other drivers I had seen, jumped onboard. We started going forward slowly at first but the chariot soon sped up. Royal instead of pulling the load now was just going fast enough to keep just ahead of the chariot, which was now moving under gravity. The lockers were only just stopping the chariot from being completely out of control. Faster and faster the chariot sped until Royal was in a four legged gallop.

The roof and sides of the roadway flashed by only inches away and I dreaded to think of anyone walking up the traveller at this point, because the roadway was only wide enough for a single tub or chariot. Anyone would surely be mown down. Although small refuge holes are cut into the rock side they were few and far between, at least they were on the Traveller. It was a nightmare ride, I wanted to be off but there was no chance of getting off at that speed. Had I made a mistake and not put enough lockers in the wheels?

Suddenly the roadway widened out and the end of the traveller came into view. The roadway was also levelling out. Royal, having done this Hundreds of times before slowed his gallop until the chariot was once more under his control. He began walking and pulling the load. I ordered “Whoa”. Royal obediently stopped and I withdrew the locker brakes. It would be all level or slightly uphill from now on.

I was to find out later that all of the pony drivers experienced the headlong flight down the Traveller every single working day. How there were few accidents must be luck or the good judgement of the pony drivers. Other times when I did the ride, it was very exhilarating.

I unloaded the rings in the tailgate as instructed by Willie R. and waited for the deputy as arranged. When he arrived he told me to re hitch the pony to the now empty chariot and we both rode back out down the tail gate.

He directed me to a crossing gate and down to the left tailgate of Threes; Ebor 3s had been worked out of coal many years previously. Although I knew where this tailgate was, I had never been down it as there was a single wooden bar across the entrance denoting a no go area. As it was now no longer a ventilated section no air circulated in it. We both dismounted the empty chariot and left it and Royal at the entrance. There were no rails leading into the gate, some other pony driver had been before. When I remarked on this fact to Willie, his reply was that there was further in.

I did not like to enter a forbidden area but could not appear chicken in front of Willie. We began our trek up the gate. The roadway when it had been in use would have been six foot wide and high, but because it had been abandoned many years ago, the roof and side weight had seriously misshapen the metal rings that supported the roadway. In places we had to crawl forward on our hands and knees. We advanced about fifty yards inwards before we saw the rails; they had been originally laid when the road was in use. We walked a further fifty yards before we set about dismantling the rails. Throwing them back towards the start of the gate where Royal was waiting.

Royal would wait there in the pitch darkness, as commanded; until he became hungry or his inner time clock told him it was shift end. He would then about turn and walk slowly back the way he had come, still in complete darkness. Eventually he would reach back to the pit bottom and the stables. Horses had done that before and would do so again; how they found there way in complete darkness is any one’s guess.

It was slow laborious work getting the rails up. The rails were laid on to wooden bars that are set on the floor and ‘Dog nails’ are hammered home to secure them. We had brought a large claw hammer with us for the nail extraction. That part was easy, but because of there being no air circulation the heat in the gate was overpowering. We had to have a breather every ten minutes because of the heat. At one such point Willie lit his safety lamp and held it up to the roof, the bluish tinged yellow flame showed the presence of Methane. Willie reckoned that there was at least seven percent gas in the atmosphere; seven percent is an explosive mixture. He warned me not to say anything to anyone about our escapade. I was more than a little glad to vacate the area.

We got the chariot loaded and made our return to the Sevens tailgate. I was instructed to lay them up to as near the face as possible and to hide any surplus rails at a spot he designated. Rails were valuable; it was a common practice among pony drivers to go into other gates and steal rails, even to the extent of ripping up already laid rails. The worse sin was to steal another’s rails at the beginning of the gate rather the other face end. Although this did not happen on a regular basis, it did occasionally. There was no honour among drivers where rails are concerned.

Some ponies can be very clever and experienced. If a tub was travelling too fast for a horses gallop, a clever horse will use its hind quarters to help slow down the tubs. It has been known for horses to kick their hind legs and uncouple the chain leading to the tubs. They then swerve to one side and allow the runaway tubs to carry on without them.

In one tailgate the roofing weight had lowered the roof so that for a few paces it was lower than the pony’s hindquarters. A certain clever horse would walk or stumble forward on its front knees, the few steps to get under the low part. There seemed to be no end to the talents of an intelligent horse. I’ve actually seen them ride on conveyor belts with the driver and they can also be incredibly dumb.

Although I did not witness it, I have got the story first hand:

Archie B. used to drive Mousey. Archie was, the fore mentioned, Dick’s younger brother and featured in the earlier trouser incident. His pony, Mousey, was a young inexperienced headstrong horse. Whenever it could, it would get the bit between its teeth and begin a headlong gallop. Whenever a pony gets the bit between its teeth no amount of pulling on the reins will make it come to a stop. By pulling on the reins you are in fact pulling the pony’s head; its head is stronger than your arms.

Archie’s horse Mousey was not a very clever horse, all it knew was how to run fast. Archie had lockered the tubs before progressing down the traveller and Mousey broke into a four legged gallop. Half way down a wooden locker broke. Archie, who was riding on a chariot at the back, tried to place another locker in the wheels. He was unsuccessful they were going too fast and besides the side walls gave no room. Mousey who must have realised that the tubs were running away. Instead of checking the tubs with its hind quarters, like most intelligent horses did, Mousey ran even faster to try and outpace the runaways.

Archie could see lights near the end of the traveller flashing side to side, a warning. He realised that there was a problem there. He could not stop his horse, and to save himself his only action was to jump off, which he did. The obstruction was derailed tubs. Mousey ran headlong into the back of them. Other horses would have moved to one side of the tubs, there was plenty of room. When Archie and other pony drivers reached the scene, the horse seemed unable to stand. The management was informed of the horses’ accident.

The area vet was called. Archie describes running the past events over in his head and how he could have avoided it. He blamed himself for the horse’s injuries, but no blame could rightly be brought to his door. He could not have foreseen the locker breakage, nor that it would happen at a very narrow part of the roadway, making it impossible to insert another locker in the wheel.

He told me that Mousey was attempting to stand up and with his, and others help, the horse managed it. Archie was then left alone with his pony. The horse kept hobbling as though it was about to fall but miraculously it still remained upright. The pony was obviously in extreme pain. Archie examined the horses exterior for signs of injury and of the obvious small cuts none seemed to be life threatening. But most of the horse’s weight was on three legs, the right rear leg hanging a little. It obviously hurt Mousey to place weight on that leg.

All the time Archie was talking to his horse, trying to comfort it. He took out his snap tin and offered it a sandwich, but Mousey showed no inclination to eat; normally it would have wolfed it down. He was aware that one does not give an injured person anything to eat in case that person has to be operated on. This of course would not apply to a pony. He tried to give it a drink of water, more to make himself appear to be doing something constructive; it drank a little.

After about half an hour one of the stablemen, Joe, came down the road with a pony pulling a flat-bed chariot with no sides. Archie was glad of the company. The stableman gave the pony a cursory examination and pronounced there was no hope for it. “It should be put down now,” he said, “but I do not have the authority to dispose of the animal.” Just then Mousey urinated; Archie remembers the urine was discoloured brown. The stableman said loudly, “that denotes internal bleeding. That horse does not have a cat in hells chance.” Archie remembers thinking how he wished that Joe would not talk like that in the presence of his horse, it just didn’t seem right somehow.

The vet arrived two hours later. He examined the horse and pronounced that it had broken a fetlock and had seriously damaged another. It was in great pain and could not be saved. From his equipment he extracted an air pressurised humane killer. The gun was placed to Mousey’s forehead and the trigger pulled. A bolt killed the horse instantly. The flat-bed chariot had earlier been placed adjacent to the standing horse and most of the weighty carcass dropped on to it. The vet then produced a small shafted hammer and a set. Placing the set on the dead horses’ spine he hit it, with the hammer, with force; the horses back was broken. The head and legs were then folded and roped up.

The horse, the stableman had come down to the scene with, was hitched up and Archie was instructed to drive the chariot, containing the dead horse, to the pit bottom and out of the pit. Archie distinctly remembers sitting on the dead, still warm horse whilst talking to the animal. He recalls saying to the carcass, what a fool you, (the horse) had been. I tried my best to hold you back. I could not help the accident. How sorry he was, all of this and much more. He remembers tears streaming down his face and when no one was around, openly crying. A very upsetting incident to all concerned. A pony becomes part of a young driver; it is an extension to him.

The same pony driver, Archie, remembers travelling towards the pit bottom a little too early to finish. The Manager met him on the road that led to the stables. He flashed his light for him to stop and Archie did so. When asked where he was going Archie replied, “To the stables. I’ve finished.”

The manager replied “Get thee self back down’t road lad, there’s fifty years work of coal still down there. Go get some of it out.” Archie had to comply, turned his horse round and returned to his gate.

Another Pony story which I can confirm:

A horse was needed in the pit bottom, a place of work where height was at a maximum. The work required a horse of great strength. Any of the other ponies, although very strong, would have found the work too demanding. A large horse was especially ordered for the job.

Sam was a large dapple grey horse. By no stretch of the imagination could he be called a pony. He was much larger and seemed to have a more proud bearing. Sam was put to work in the pit bottom. It became not unusually to see Sam pulling twenty tubs all in a line. Although this was not done all the time occasionally a strong horse, like Sam, was needed. Sam always rose to any task.

Sam worked for years in the present job. He was such a fine looking and friendly horse he was everyone’s favourite. Lots of workers brought him carrots and other titbits. One shift whilst Sam was working, a number of tubs ‘ran away’. The runaways trapped Sam and he fell to the ground obviously badly injured. The area vet was called. He arrived on the scene and diagnosed a seriously injured back. The horse could not be saved; it would have to be humanely killed.

The stableman at that time was Alfred D. He loved his job, no, he loved his horses. He asked to be allowed to take Sam back to the stables and try to save him. The vet told Alphie that he was on a loser but, reluctantly, gave his permission for Alphie to try. The vet prescribed a course of painkillers for the horse. Alf, with others, manhandled Sam on to an open sided buggy and it was taken to the stables.

In the stables Alphie D. concocted a series of slings and harnesses to haul the horse to its feet. A further set of cradles were made. These, using old conveyor belting and ropes, were strung from the roof. The horse legs could just touch the floor, but most its weight was supported by the cradle.

Many months elapsed before any sign of the horses’ recovery could be seen. Slowly but surely Sam was bought back to fitness. By the time the horse was ready for harness again he had to be re- ‘broken in’ (trained) again. Sam had forgotten how to act on orders or pull tubs. With love and perseverance, within the year saw Sam pulling the same weight as before. Without question Alphie D. saved Sam’s life.

An end tale to this last story was that when Middleton Pit became more modernised in 1968. Sam was made redundant. He was brought to the surface and sent to a Mine Pony’s Welfare Home to live out its days. Someone at the home decided that as Sam was such a fine looking horse, he could be ‘shown’ at galas and fairs. The horse went on to win many prizes and rosettes. Sam’s story was featured in the mining official newspaper, The Mining Gazette.

One week I asked Willie R. if owt was doing this coming Saturday morning. The deputy said he could find something for me to do. Descending the pit and handing my check to Willie he said that his right hand gate pony driver rarely worked Saturdays, and I was to take his place.

I went to the stables and as before my horse was Royal. Royal was one of the pits few ‘Paint’ ponies, in that he had more than one hair or coat colour. Most of the other horses were just a plain dark brown, one was a mousy grey. Royal was a rich chestnut brown with a large white blaze to his forehead. He was, like most of the other ponies, of Russian extraction. His forebears were originally bred on the Steppes of Russia. They were distinctive in being small, but having great strength and a very hard mouth. Because of this hardness, other ponies, not Royal, could sometimes be uncontrollable. However hard one pulled on the reins, even if the bit was correctly positioned in the mouth, it would be almost impossible to stop them if they did not want to be stopped. Other ponies, when they were in the vicinity of each other would attempt to kick or bite the other horse.

Royal was different, I had learned from others that he was in a league of his own and almost docile in temperament. He didn’t need a rein and would stop or go on command. He was considered by many to ‘have a brain’ and probably knew the job better than any driver. He was a much valued horse down Middleton Broom Colliery.

Progressing through all the rigmarole as on the previous occasion, harnessing him up and not being surprised at his roll in the dust, I hooked his halter to two tubs of wood props and a chariot of rings and urged the horse forward. We set out on our journey to Ebor 7s. Royal stopped without command at the top of the Traveller Drift to allow me to locker up the front tub wheels. Going fast down the drift was not as frightening as before but whilst doing it I was still a little apprehensive.

We reached the face uneventfully. The face workers were screaming for the pit props to be thrown on to the face conveyor, it transpired that I was a little late, in comparison with the regular driver. When my task was completed the corner man said that the deputy had left instructions that I return to the pit bottom and collect some 9 foot rings to be delivered to the Main Loader Gate. Leading my horse round to the front of the now empty train and hitching it to the front chariot, putting a single locker into a back tub wheel to check the train a little, we set out to travel down the slight decline, which is about 600 yards long. Suddenly and without warning my electric light went out. Royal was ordered to “whoa”

As previously described the cap lamp is the Lead Acid battery type. I had never experienced a lamp failure before; the lamps are considered very efficient and hard wearing. First beginning to fiddle with the lamp and then the battery I found there was very little to be done.

There was I sat on a chariot, hitched to a pony, in the middle of a roadway, in complete darkness. As before said, few people have experienced the total absence of light that occurs down a pit. What do I do? My thoughts went back to the mine training instructor, who advised that providing a person in darkness is not in a dangerous position, then he should stay where he is and wait for a search party to come to his aid. Or, providing one knows the layout of the mine, follow the rails by touch until coming to a lighted area. I was in no danger and in a few hours miners would be coming down the gate, after filling off the coal.

Or there was another way I could consider, maybe my Pony, will walk on without light. I decided to give it a try. “Get up Royal.” I commanded and the horse began pulling the load exactly at the same pace, it was as though the horse could see. It felt very strange moving in total darkness. I began thinking my journey ahead. At the bottom of this gate the road yards there is a series of two Air doors. Air doors, as described earlier, allow air to circulate efficiently round the mine. There are always at least two in tandem. When one door is opened the other has to remain closed.

What would Royal do when he reached these doors? Normally, if we were going in the right direction of an opening door, he would ‘Trap’ the door meaning he would nuzzle with head to push the doors open. We were going in the right direction but it could not be expected that the horse would know where the air doors were when in complete darkness. He would, as likely, walk into the first door and stop. It would not hurt him, I reasoned, we were walking slowly and he was wearing a leather blinkered head cover. When Royal walked into the door and stopped I could then feel my way forward to open the door and lead my horse through.

I became aware of the chariots move round the rails at right angles and into a lesser current of air indicating that I had reached the bottom of the tail gate. We were now heading in the direction of the Air doors and my expecting that my horse would suddenly halt as he bumped into the first door. I felt the movement of the horse check and slow somewhat, and then heard the noise of Royal ‘trapping’ the door. He had not walked into it as I had assumed, he was opening it. He could not possibly have seen the door but was acting as if he had all the light needed. The horse must have sensed our approach of the ventilation door.

Once we had passed through the first door I heard it self close and felt Royal approach and trap the second one before passing through. We carried on at the same steady pace and after turning into the Main 7s Loader Gate, in the far distance I could see the light from the conveyor Loader End Station. We reached it successfully and I relayed my drama to the attendant.

The old collier, whose nickname was ‘Yungun’ looked to be well over sixty but was probably more in the region of mid forties, did not seem surprised by my experience but merely said. “Horses have a sixth sense with which we cannot even begin to understand. I’ve known horses refuse to go into some districts where miners have been killed in accidents. I remember one Gallower I drove as a lad, and I’m going back thirty years or more, refuse to pass slowly at a certain point. Always broke into a gallop well before it reached it. It would run past this here point and once past would resume to act as normal. I could never fathom it out. When I told the stable man about its antics he told me that a horse and driver had been killed at that point. The deaths had happened many years before my horse had ever been born but somehow my Gallower knew. Stranger things have happened and are still happening down a pit. Don’t treat your horse like a fool, it isn’t. It knows things you don’t.”

I thought it all a bit far fetched and exaggerated but my horse had just acted as though it could see in perfect darkness there was no getting away from that.

“Changing the subject, Yungun” I said, “I’ve often wondered why do they call you Yungun? That’s not your Christian name is it?”

Yungun laughed out loud, “No my names Bill. When I were a lad I used to drink in the Madhouse, yer no the Market Tavern in Leeds. One time I was in there I’d had a few to drink and began taking the piss out of this old codger. He’ll ‘ave been about sixty if he was a day. He was saying nowt to me back and I took that to mean he was scared shitless of me. The beer was talking and I was ribbing him unmercifully. The more I took the piss, the more it must have been winding him up. I ended up calling him a silly old XXXX who wasn’t fit to lace my boots. That was the last straw; he jumped up and gave me the hiding of my life. Me a young twenty year old and him sixty plus, it should have been a no contest, well he laced my hide and really showed me in front of the regulars. ‘That’ll teach you to call me old,’ the pensioner said, ‘ave some respect to your elders.’ It taught me a great lesson of life and from that day I’ve called every body ‘Young un’ so as not to cause offence. Young one see?” I had a bit of a laugh at his tale.

Again I changed the subject. “I’m thinking of continuing my journey to the pit bottom without light. What do you think? Can Royal handle it?”

“Oh your Gallower can handle it all right, that’s not the problem, but you should stay here until someone is going your way. In about an hour or so, the Shot firers will be going outbye, they will see to you.”

I had one of two choices, remain at the station for an hour, or continue my journey. For safety reasons I should choose the former, but if I did that it would make me late getting my materials back, and then late again getting out of the pit at the end of the shift. I was in a quandary but because I felt a little triumphant, a little exhilarated and also a little afraid during my last ride, I decided to carry on.

“No,” I said to Young Un, I had found a new respect for the pony’s sixth sense after my experience and Young Un’s tales, “I’ve decided to carry on.” The idea somewhat exited me a little. Young un tried to dissuade me but I was having none of it, I knew what I was doing.

Nothing untoward happened on my subsequent journey, reaching the pit bottom quite safely. I reported to John H. the area Deputy that I needed a fresh lamp sending down from the surface lamp room. I boasted to him of my experience in the darkness. After listening to me he gave me the bollocking of my life. I had risked the well being of my pony. What would have happened if another horse and load had been coming in the opposite direction? I would not have been able to signal my presence, my horse and the oncoming one could have been killed. I had to admit to myself that I had not thought of that eventuality.

According to John there were more Mining Regulations governing the welfare of a pit pony than there were for humans.” Think of all the forms that I would have had to fill in.” He moaned. I realised now, at the first Loader End Station I had not thought my problem through. I should have considered all the eventualities and stayed safe where I was. My actions had been head strongly foolish and completely wrong.

Wait a minute I studied, as John was berating me, at no time has he mentioned that I might have been injured as well. Does he think that the horse is more important than me? He had left me with the distinct impression that it was.

A fresh lamp was dispatched from the surface lamp room and my shift carried on as normal.

Another lesson of life learned; think twice before you act once.

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