Letters, Monday, January 7, 2013

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Pitman’s bait was always at risk

I STARTED work as an apprentice electrician at Silksworth Colliery in 1949 and agree with everything that B Rich says in the letter.

 At Silksworth the screens worked alongside a dry cleaning plant that cleaned the smaller coal, both of these were cold and unpleasant places to work and were in operation until about 1958 when they were replaced by a modern coal washery plant as part of the Silksworth modernisation scheme.

 The Xcuts (CrossCuts) together with the North Barrier district, which was alongside, were in the Maudlin seam under parts of East Herrington. Coal production was by the use of compressed air-powered pneumatic tools. The only electricity in the two districts were the low voltage signalling system and the telephones. The majority of the mineworkers used oil lamps, only the manager, under-manager, colliery officials and maintenance personnel used battery-powered cap lamps.

 Electricity was introduced into the North Barrier district in 1951, however, both districts had ceased production by 1955.

 The mice were a problem and the only solution was to use a “bait tin”. Apart from the square Oxo cube tin, oval-shaped bait tins were used, I believe that one local source for these was Reynolds’ shop in Crowtree Road.

 There was also a slightly larger, rectangular bait tin with a semi-circular shaped end. Problems arose if you forgot to take your bait in which case you had to buy something from the canteen to take underground with you. This was wrapped in newspaper and then you had to be on your guard.

The problem was not only underground. You had to be very careful when leaving your bait in the surface workshops etc. The problem was the rats.

 Mice were able to enter the underground workings by going in among the tubs of “choppy” (chopped hay) that was supplied from Philadelphia as feed for the underground ponies and I often feel that if there had been steps taken at the source then the mice problem underground may not have been so great.

 I worked at Lambton D pit for a short while and I believe that there may have been rats down the pit as there was a “day drift” leading from the surface into the pit, the entrance to this being just off Lambton Lane.

 I was once told that if there were rats in a pit then there would not be mice, however, I don’t know if this was true.

Alan Vickers

Dog dirt disgrace

OLD Durham Road playing fields and the cemetry was once a lovely part of Houghton until it was spoiled by mindless dog owners.

 When they enter the cemetery they let the dog off the lead and there is dog dirt all over. This is also a war grave cemetery. They have no respect for themselves let alone our mothers and fathers and children that are buried there.

 By law these gates should be locked at night. They used to be but not any more. The person running the cemetery is not doing his duty by leaving the gates open. There is an opening off Old Durham Road where, like ghouls in the night, they sneak in with their dogs. It’s a disgrace. I would not let my child play on these fields.

 I have always voted Labour but not any more. The council does nothing for the people of Houghton.

 When you ask people why they vote labour they say “because my father or my grandfather did”. It might have been good for them but not now .

 Sunderland is like a ghost town. I hate saying this but Sunderland could not tie Newcastle’s boot laces. Why? Because it has had different political parties in power over the years. Whoever gets in knows it cannot rest on its laurels, so it does its best for the people of Newcastle. Vote for anybody but Labour, variety is the only way we will ever get anything done.

 In the last decade the Labour Party has not only bankrupted the country, it has also morally bankrupted the people.

 As for Houghton cemetery, the residents of the cemetery cannot fight their corner so if you have loved ones there fight for them.

 If you have children who like to play on the field make them aware of the dogs and if necessary report the dog owner .

 People living in Mill Hill, Old Durham Road and surrounding areas must be sick to death of the dog dirt lying about.

 I have reported this to the dog wardens and they say they will patrol the area.

 So if you are guilty of these crimes beware of a fine dropping through your letterbox.

Anonymous

Medal deserved

I DO not agree with Mr Clayburn’s remarks about the late issue of a medal to Russian convoy crews being farcical.

 The presentation is obviously well overdue but will be received with pride by the few of us still alive and the descendants of those who have passed on.

 It will remind people of the horrors of these convoys to getting armaments to Russia and give us our rightful place in the history books of the last war along with other services.

B Bulman,

Pinfold Court,

Cleadon