October Miner of the Month : John Carrington
Posted on by Melanie Charlton
This month we've been chatting to ex-miner John Carrington AKA 'Compo'.
Coming from many generations of miners, John feels that he was always destined to be a miner. His father Jack worked at Water Haigh Colliery in Woodlesford, Leeds so John followed him there at 15 and soon became 'Jackie's Lad'.
"My dad instructed his colleagues to 'Give me a whack if I stepped out of line!'"
Sadly, Water Haigh closed so John then moved to Saville Pit in Methley, Leeds before finally moving to Wistow Colliery in Selby where he eventually retired at 60.
"If I could, I would go back to Water Haigh tomorrow!'"
So what are John's memories of working in the mining industry?
"Working down the pit for 45 years, I have seen many changes. When I first started work we had 136 pit ponies who would carry out many duties within the pit."
John explains that the miners would have to collect coal mostly by manpower back then which evolved over the years so that most tasks were eventually carried out at the push of a button.
"My overriding memories are of the fantastic people I've worked with over the years and the camaraderie within the mining community."
So how did John come to work at the Museum? John progressed from being a locomotive fitter up to a charge hand locomotive fitter and at the time he retired coincidentally the Mining Museum had just been donated a locomotive that they wanted to get working. Through a recommendation John was called in.
"I did get the locomotive running and 13 years later I am still at the Museum and I love every minute of it!"
The best part of the job John says is meeting ex miners and sharing experiences. He also enjoys meeting family members of ex miners to show them what their grandad, dad or husband did down the mines.
"I love explaining to the children, who will never work down a mine, what role children played all those years ago. No two mine tours are ever the same with people asking a variety of questions.
The very best part of the job, for me, is obviously driving the train!"
If you fancy getting kitted out and embarking on a journey 140m beneath the surface, book one of special underground tours today!
Posted in Heritage