Miner’s poetry takes pride of place

George Brown with his granddaughter Charlotte Brown
George Brown with his granddaughter Charlotte Brown

A poem written by a former miner has been reproduced and gifted to his favourite social spot – to fulfil a request he made before his death.

Keen poet George Brown, from Hadston, wanted to see one of his pieces displayed at Red Row Working Men’s Club, also known as The Brick Club.

The framed poem.

The framed poem.

His family granted him his wish, by having the poem, entitled A Miner, written up in calligraphy, framed and presented to the venue.

Now the piece, which depicts the tough conditions of the mining industry, takes pride of place in the club, hanging close to where he used to sit.

His daughter Elaine Brown, also from Hadston, said her 76-year-old father, who lost his battle with liver cancer in July, would have been ‘quietly over the moon’ with the gesture.

She added: “He used to work away a lot and he used to write poetry.

“Before he passed away, we found a book of his poems. There was also a love letter that he had written to my mum, which was read out at his funeral by my brother Ralph.

“My dad said he wanted a particular poem nicely done up and put in The Brick Club, which was a home from home for him, where he used to play cards and have a few pints.

“He decided he wanted it to be the poem called The Miner, as the area around the Brick Club was a former mining community.

“When he was still alive, I arranged for the piece to be written up in calligraphy.

“Sadly, it arrived after he died, so he never got to see it done up nicely. But we followed his wishes and it is in the club now, in the corner where he used to play cards with his friends.”

George grew up in Chevington Drift and worked in the Broomhill pit.

He was set to join the Army in the 1950s, but a serious motorbike crash a week before ended that dream.

Elaine admits: “The accident left him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, meaning that he couldn’t join up. It changed his life.”

George became a baker, before going into the construction trade. He retired at the age of 60. His poems covered a range of topics and included one about a shaggy wild pony for his niece Heather.

A Miner, by George Brown

A miner goes underground, down that big black hole

sweats and toils with breaking back, to produce for us some coal.

He works in seams six foot high or down to one foot nine

he may get dust upon his lungs but that will take much time.

He shovels coal upon a belt; the roof’s kept up with jacks,

the coal is then loaded and goes to bank by tracks.

When the coal is filled away and the roof support’s in place

the cutter then will come along and cut another face.

Other shifts prepare the seam; that is their main goal,

so that when the fillers come they fill away that coal.

Down the mine is very black, you have to work with light

whether it is daytime or in the middle of the night.

All miners pull their weights and work side by side

There’s no place down there for lazy men to hide.

All the miners live in communities and know everyone by name,

the children of the parents will go underground the same

To be a miner underground you shouldn’t be afraid,

although conditions are not good they don’t get badly paid.

Working down a mine is just a way of life,

hard work for the husband, worry for the wife.

So when you watch your fire warming up your house

give a thought to the miner, underground like a mouse.

Looking forward to the day when he can retire

And use some coal that he produced upon his homely fire.