Tears among grown men as deep mining ends - Kellingley colliery's final shift

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As the time moved towards 1pm on Friday, December 18 2015  a steady stream of Kellingley Colliery workers clocked out of the pit for a final time ending more than 100 years of deep mining.

It was a date and time none of them will ever forget.

Kellingley miners

Kellingley miners

Their last steps as miners, an industry in which many have worked for decades took them past a poster which read 'the last pit: closed for business'.

Some shook hands with their fellow their colleagues in what the men described as 'the final handshake'.

One miner simply said: "Done".

And for 50-year-old locomotive driver Paul Hine, it was an end of his family's three generation association with mining.

Kellingley miners

Kellingley miners

Mr Hine worked in the industry for 34 years, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

He started at Woolley Colliery before moving to Kellingley 28 years ago.

Mr Hine said: "It's been an emotional day for all of us, shaking hands with colleagues and friends that we will probably never see again.

"I never thought I would see this day in my working career. I knew one day it would end but I didn't think I'd see it.

"If the government announced that they wouldn't be burning coal any more, I think we could take it better.

"But knowing they will be burning imported coal just down the road for up to 10 years is a real kick in the teeth."

Sadness was etched onto the face of Mr Hine as he left the building for the final time.

And it was the overwhelming emotion felt by many of the men as they struggled to come to terms with the reality that today marked the end of deep coal mining in the UK.

Simon Coward, 40, a fellow locomotive driver who has spent more than 20 years in the coal industry, said: "We don't want to believe it. We have known it was coming but we have put it to the back of our minds.

"When it actually comes around, even though you know it's happening and it's here, it's still a shock."

Mr Coward, started his career in Selby in 1995, before moving to Kellingley in 2004. He said the "end shift" was one of high emotions.

He said: "It's pretty surreal but the lads have just got on with it as they always have. It's a sad day for us all but we all pull together in this industry and that's what we always have done.

"We've done the job for us and not for them. Everyone has walked out with their heads held high."

Richard Dobrowolski, a mine official who took voluntary redundancy from the doomed pit 16 months ago, returned today to say a last goodbye to his fellow workers.

The emotional farewell reduced some of the men to tears.

Mr Dobrowolski, 59, said: "I worked in this pit for 35 years and it has a special place in my heart.

"I always said I'd come back on the day it shut.

"People are laughing and joking but in the mines it is an upsetting day, especially for those who have been here most of their lives. There have been tears among grown men."

Keith Poulson, branch secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers, was one of the men overcome with emotion.

He said: ""You can never plan for the last day and you can never plan for your emotions and how you feel on that last day.

"I did have some tearful thoughts in my mind when I went up to my locker for the last time today and I emptied all the contents into a bag so that it could be left open.

"I've never left my locker open in the 39 years I have been in this industry, I've always put a lock on it. Today I've had to leave it open because there's nobody going to be at the mine."

John Marshall, who has spent four decades cutting the coal at Kellingley, said the hardest part to take was the loss of the close-knit coal community.

He said: "The most difficult bit is knowing you aren't going to see a lot of your friends again, people you see each day. We watch each other's backs and look after each other. We've stood with each other until the end, with our final handshakes and final goodbyes."

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