A: Well, anyway, about half past seven, I don’t know the name of the young boy that was running the chain, that’s what they’re called, going up and down with the empty hatches and taking away the full ones. But he came down with the information that we’re to leave the district immediately and go for the surface and go via the return, as the bottom was flooding. It was as simple as that. There was no urgency. He didn’t come running down shouting and dropping our tools on the way. The tools were put to the side quite peacefully and we all walked away as a district, just maybe about twenty men making for the surface, going by the return air well. The second means of egress. And at a certain point we came where we’re to start dipping downhill. We couldn’t go. The road was full of this sludge. It didn’t look like [inaudible 0:01:00] just kind of sludge. Again, it wasn’t flapping about like the same as liquid, it was stationary. That this would maybe be an hour or two maybe after the initial ingress. So everything was stationary. But there was – well, one of the plays that I worked, that was the title, No Road Through. So there was no road through. So we realised within quarter or half an hour that there was no road through anywhere, we was trapped in.
Q: What’s it like, that realisation when you see something like that?
A: Well, it didn’t give me a churn up in the belly or anything like that. It just – it was just accept it. And we just all went – retreated back to a central – nobody [inaudible 0:01:43] but we went back to a central point to where everyone had gathered. We were still [inaudible 0:01:49] of what was wrong. We should have been told to go to this central point and not to go making for the surface. But the word we got was definitely go to the surface by the return air well as the pit bottom is flooding.
Q: And so that then began several days underground?
A: Aye, well, to begin with no one had thought of trying the phone, assuming it would be – the cables would be, well, pulled apart with the force of this in-rush. That was one of the things. I mention it in a wee book that I wrote, that this was – I can’t name [inaudible 0:02:29] but this workman just says, “Is the phone not working?” And [inaudible 0:02:35] been a wee bit off-hand, kind of dismissed it just as kind of a foolish question. But the man asked again, and the [inaudible 0:02:42] says, “Well, if you think it could be working, you try it.” And he went and tried the phone and it was working. So that was the start of a wee bit of order. And instruction as to how to proceed. You see, we all knew of this nearness of the Bank Six, which was another mine which had been closed for a bit, maybe ten or twelve year. So we knew of the nearness, but we didn’t know there’d be a road to it. So we was asked – this was a twenty-four feet by [inaudible 0:03:12] between it just to prevent any water or gas from going the wrong ways. So we get instructions to reduce that twenty-four feet and leave two or three feet only, until the rescue [inaudible 0:03:28] had seen if there was a road to it and it was possible to have a rescue. But whether it was just too keen to do it, but, anyway, the last two or three feet actually blew or fell through. I suppose there had been a wee bit increase in pressure on our side, plus the coal would be loose, [inaudible 0:03:44]. So that was – well, we had a wee bit of sing-song when the hole was made through, because you was expecting you’d be walking out in a short time. But it didn’t turn out that way as the – well, the Bank Six mine had been stopped for years and it was always a gassy mine. The methane come up to us. Plus, I suppose, the loss of pressure, our own methane would come out of strata. There was miles of strata [inaudible 00:04:06], bare coal strata due to this stoop and room method, we called it. Just roads twelve feet wide with ninety feet squares of coal, just like that [inaudible 0:04:20] whatever you want [inaudible 0:04:21]. So that – we had a wee bit of a sing-song when the hole was made. But the singing stopped abruptly when the gas came up.
Q: So how many of you were there altogether?
A: 116 at that point, 116.
Q: That’s a lot of you.
A: Aye, well, it’s not a lot for a full mine. But it was 116 men that were – there was no road out at that time for them. They was trapped in.