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Wigan Mining History. Hindley, Lancashire. Ludovic Berry, 1945.
Ludovic Berry was born in Lancashire, in 1877, and had been a miner all his working life. For 35 years, he had been a loyal and faithful servant of the Wigan Coal Corporation, working at their mine at Hindley, Lancashire. Because every man was needed, to do his bit during WW2, he was still working hard at 68. The end of the war was still some months away, and on the 30th April,1945, he turned up for work as usual, to drive his beloved Steam shunting engine, " Dolly ." He had been doing this, for almost the whole of his time working for WCC. The weather, for the past few days, had been atrocious, it had rained heavily, but had cleared up. Together with his two fellow workers, John Ward, and Joseph Hindley, they began to shunt full waggons of coal into the various sidings, for collection by the Railway Company. While heading for the number 8 sidings, pushing 13 loaded waggons, both yardmen noticed that a hole had formed beneath the tracks, and they yelled out a warning to Berry to stop the Engine. The brakes went on, but as the first three waggons passed over the hole, the track collapsed and the waggons went down. The weight, began to pull the slowing engine, and the remaining waggons, ever faster towards disaster, and both men yelled to Berry to jump. He was still applying the brakes, when the 13 waggons, Dolly the Engine, and Ludovic Berry, all disappeared down the old mine shaft, which was by now, over 120 yards deep. He had possibly achieved his last dying wish, to go, while at the controls of his much loved and cherished Engine.
The old shaft was originally the Number 7, Brookside Colliery, which had been used as a ventilation shaft from 1919, and filled in about 1932. It was thought the heavy rain had washed away the filling material. He was a popular man around the village, and his action went down in the local folklore tales. It was far too dangerous a job to recover the old Engine, so it was decided that the old shaft would be " Dolly's " last resting place, and it was again filled in. I have been led to believe, that there is small plague somewhere, if anyone has a picture, or any other info, do please let me know.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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