Kiveton Park: Remembering pithead baths

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News that Kiveton Park pithead baths are to be demolished might leave some feeling a pang for the colliery which was once the heart of the community.

But it’s nearly 20 years since the pit closed and memories fade.

Ex-miner George Smith (w130626-4a)

Ex-miner George Smith (w130626-4a)

Ex-miner George Smith doesn’t feel sentimental about losing another reminder of the village’s industrial history from the landscape.

Now 75, he said: “It doesn’t bother me that they’re going and I would say 75 per cent of the men I worked with wouldn’t be bothered either.”

“A lot of the men I worked with have gone now, and sons and grandsons don’t feel the same about the pit.”

The baths were built in 1938 and paid for by the miners themselves.

Ex-miner George Smith (w130626-4c)

Ex-miner George Smith (w130626-4c)

Before then they had to walk home dirty and have a bath there.

George, of Mill Lane, South Anston, said he could be in and out of the showers in seven minutes.

“I was in and out like lightning. Nobody stopped for a chat in there, all the chat was done in the canteen.”

He said the baths had two floors and also contained everyone’s lockerss

Tom Hustler, communications manager for the Homes and Communications Agency, which owns the building, said the lockers were in a long bank and couldn’t be separated.

He said: “They are made of heavy industrial steel. Each miner had two lockers, a dirty one and a clean one.”

“When they came to work they would put their clothes in the clean locker. When they came off their shift they would put their pit clothes in the dirty locker, have a shower and then pick up their clothes from the clean locker.”

The baths would probably be demolished by mid-August. There had been a hold-up because of swallows nesting in the building.

He said: “We have to wait for the ecologists to tell us the birds have flown, then we can apply to the Health and Safety Executive to go in and remove the asbestos.”

He said once the buiiding was made safe there would be an open day for people to take a look around before the baths disappear from the sky line for good.

George and his wife have five sons, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

He became a miner when he left school at the age of 15.

He went first to Brookhouse pit where he spent ten years, before moving to Kiveton where he worked for 28 years and three months.

His memories of those years include the year-long miners’ strike in 1984 when he was chairman of the pit’s NUM branch.

He also lost part of a finger in a mining accident, but said he never thought of quitting.

He still meets up with ex-colleagues at Wales Club, and they have a get-together at Christmas.