Yesterday, Daddy and the boys went to the National Coal Mining Museum in Middlestown / Flockton, near Wakefield with Lee and Jessica.
We arrived just after 10am and managed to get on the first tour of the mine at 10:45am. The tour starts with a little information on safety where we learn that we are not allowed any form of battery powered item in the mine such as mobile phones, watches or car keys that contain remote opening controls. So, once we were set up with helmets and special miners lights that will not cause any sparking down in the mine, we got in the elevator that took us 140m below the surface and into the mine.
A really nice guy called Trevor (or TC to his mates) took us around the tour telling us of all of the ins and outs of the mine from the 1800’s to modern day (well 1985 when this mine was officially closed following the miners strike in 1984). The early years were quick eye opening with the families going into the mines from the age of 5 onwards with mummy and daddy being the main miners but with the children being responsible for taking the coal out from their place in the mine to the main shaft for it to be removed. the families looks to earn 12p per day (1p per box of coal) in order to have enough money to survive.
As we moved around the mine, we learned about the different challenges along the way, although mainly the challenges were about safety – preventing explosions in the mine at all costs.
Some of the newer machines that were used in the mines towards the end of the time that the mine was live were incredible pieces of engineering that automated much of the mining and collection process all while reducing risk of human life.
One thing that we did not learn about was how did the human race figure out that there was anything worth mining in the first place – can only assume it was curiosity 🙂
If you find yourself with a few hours to kill and are in the area, give this place some time, you will be pleased that you did 🙂