I continued to study at Wakefield Tech. I had managed to pass my First year’s exams which guaranteed a continuation of my day release. In the second year my basic Secondary Education was beginning to let me down, particularly in Mathematics. I could only manage to grasp Algebra in its simplest forms for now we had to calculate with Sine, Cosine and Tangents and there were no calculators in those days. All data had to be searched for in a book of tables. I was beginning to struggle.

Electrical science was my hardest subject. Although I could grasp the basic idea of electricity, calculating the various values was beyond me. Of the Five subjects taken I passed in four, even Maths, but, as expected I failed in Electrical Science. To carry on studying for my ONC I would have to re-take Year two in my own time, three night classes a week. I thought long and hard over my decision, but I realised that even when I passed Year two, year three would probably be beyond my potential.

Deciding to quit school I informed the Training Officer. I discussed with him my problems and that I wanted to be put on the waiting list for coal face training when I became eighteen, which was only a couple of months away. He was aware that I was saving up to get married and money was important. Ben, to give him credit, tried to persuade me to continue with my studies. He realised the opportunity I was throwing away, but I could not see further than my face. All I could think of was doing my coal face training, which lasted 100 days, and getting a big money face job.

I had already decided on completion of face training that I would take a Shotfirer/Deputy course.

As I had been a satisfactory worker and the Training Officer thought highly of me, he decided to help me. He explained that although there was a long waiting list to go face training, he would ensure that I got to the top of it on reaching the age of eighteen. He said that normally the first 40 days face training is taken on day shift, coal filling. The next 20 days on afternoons belting and chocking. The final 20 days were on nights machine coal cutting. Usually when a person finishes his training they remain on that shift they finished on, usually a back shift… He proposed that I would do my afternoons and nights first and then my final period would be on days. He assured me that I would then be able to remain on days. He was as good as his word. I completed my first two periods of afternoons and nights.

When it came to do my coal filling training, instead of helping out with a corner man as was usual, I found that he had put me with a team who were ‘arking out’ a new coal face. The new face was the North East 1s. I did not know at the time but anyone who arks (cuts) out a new face, is entitled to demand a permanent coal filling job on that face.

Ben had done me another favour. Here I was just turned eighteen and a ‘piece’ of coal of my own. Men worked years before they were offered a ‘piece’ of the own and even then your face had to fit.

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