Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday 50.. thinking of Miners

Today, with the news last night that miners are trapped after an explosion in a mine
on the West Coast of the South Island,
I am thinking of miners.

These are postcards I bought when visiting Blaenavon Coalmine in Wales, UK.
Not so long ago a working mine, it is now open to visitors.
A guide who once worked the mine,  decked us out in hard hats and headlamps,
and took us down to experience being deep under the ground in the heavy dark,
and shared his stories of being a coal miner.
How I admire the men who go down to do this dangerous and difficult work.

My dad worked as a young lad in a coalmine in Lancashire.
Dad had trouble with his lungs and it was his family doctor that encouraged him to emigrate.
At the age of nineteen he came to New Zealand.

As a child I never tired of hearing his stories of his time down the mine.
My favourite story was about the pit ponies.
I always felt so sad for the poor little ponies that spent their lives in the dark.

Deep down Blaenavon mine we saw the stalls where the ponies were kept when not working,
their names above their stalls. The ponies have their eyes covered in the photo to protect them from the camera's flash.

We were told laws were made in later times  (I think in the 60's but could be wrong)
that gave ponies the right to holidays the same as the miners.
 I was so happy to hear this. I could imagine the ponies frolicking about in the sunshine and green fields.
Their eyes were bandaged at first and slowly adjusted to help their eyes cope with the light.

Today the coalminers trapped in a mine on the West Coast
are in our thoughts and prayers.
May they be safe...

How glad I am at least that our miners are equipped personally with emergency gear.. access to oxygen ..
(this lasts only one hour however)
and there are places of safety throughout the mine, but we do not know how they are.
Be safe Kiwi Miners... be safe..
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  1. We awoke this morning to the news. What a shocker! We're in a state of disbelief that another tragedy has struck New Zealand. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone.

  2. Mining is such an ugly business, made too often uglier by the mine owners and their flaunting of the laws. I have immense respect for those who must face going into a mine each day.

    Hoping they get to the miners soon.

  3. I hope the trapped men are soon rescued. It must be an ordeal any time to be down there. I think that is why so many people opted to take the long voyage to strange lands to get out of slaving in a mine. The wages and the conditions were abysmal. For men, women, children and animals they all were used in the mines. Not the good old times, awfully bad times for many.

  4. My thoughts and prayers are with all the miners and their loved ones.

  5. Joan I am with the miners in prayer too; my grand fathers and ancestors before were miners, coal and iron in the US and Poland. This is a precious photo. I have none of the mines. I heard so many tales about mines and accidents growing up, that today I keep a phobia about caves, caverns, still and do not enjoy them. Keeping them in faih and prayer. Check out my Magpie tale this week right below my Sepia Saturday; how odd is that?

  6. All the miners . . . all the years ... so much danger ... brave men all of them . . . may they be safe.

  7. Here's to a speedy and successful rescue.

  8. As our Saturday dawns here in the States, news continues to show the miners still trapped there in New Zealand. Our prayers and thoughts continue to flow for the miners, their families, the rescue workers, Joan. Your pictures are so timely and telling of life as a miner. I did not know about the pit ponies until now.

  9. prayers for the kiwi miners and their families.

    although improvements have been made, mining is still way too dangerous and many of the companies and interests which own the mines take shortcuts that undercut miner health and safety.

    marvelous photos

  10. Praying for a rescue as successful as the Chilean rescue! Your postcards are a legacy of an unsung profession.


  11. I hope and pray they are okay, Joan. I can't imagine what they are going through and their family and friends waiting to hear...

    The Rankin Family's "Tramp Miner" song ran through my head reading your's a truly dangerous profession. (and I love that Rita MacNeil song you posted).

  12. I haven't listened to the news tonight - hope there's been a rescue and that the miners are safe. The men who work in mines must always go to work with the idea that today could be the day - and hoping it isn't. It's such a dangerous profession. I'm keeping the miners in my prayers.

  13. Yes, all our thoughts are with those miners and their families. You weave this latest tragic news into your Sepia Saturday post so well.