Wasteland by Ralph Jones

The land is now all but gone

That our colliery once stood upon

The winding gear has provided its last ride

With only six men inside

Three dismantlers and an overman

And a deputy, or as some call them a fireman

The pit bottom hitcher is the last one in

As the banksman receives the signal, in the pit top cabin.

The lamp room has long since gone

Where once five hundred lamps, on racks were charged upon

The screens and washeries, are now elsewhere

No sign of the men that once worked there.

The manager's office is no more

Not even the plaque, with his name on the door

The plaque made of cheap steel, in the workshop quite near

Is now on someone's wall, as a souvenir

A souvenir of someone's time

Spent in that coal mine

Maybe someone who had spent years on their knees

The only thing given for free

Except for the blue scars on their face, like a war painted savage

Or the heaving chest, that is pneumoconiosis ravaged

Missing digits, missing limbs

All part of a collier's requiem

Outhouse buildings, partly demolished

Rusting worktops, with jobs unfinished

Places, once a hive of activity

Now a place where sheep shelter freely

Sheltering from the wind, rain or snow

In this place, where no one wants to go

This place, where the blacksmiths with muscles bulging

Are now replaced with Zombie like beings, with eyes bulging.

Where no one can see what they do

Not noticing the sheep droppings, crushed under their shoes

Oblivious to the outside world, or so it seems

This place their sanctuary, for their heavy-eyed dreams.

 

The cage is now resting on its side

No more men will travel inside

And after months of fighting, and living in hope

The pitmen have finally capped their last rope.

Toolbars, that in the workshops were made

Bearing the tools of the collier's trade

Shovels, mandrels and ripping bars

To carry them out, would be too far

Cutters, chocks and panzer chains

Left to deteriorate and rust, never to be seen again

The coal face and the hard headings, no more will we see them

Unless we look, in a mining museum

They say, "we'll build a leisure centre, with a new pool

Or, maybe even a new school"

A school would be nice, where our children we can educate

But the colliery is now demolished, and on the school, we still wait

Two years later, I passed this place, but alas

All that has changed is they have built a small by-pass

And despite all that they said they had planned

The old colliery is still a piece of wasteland

Copyright of Ralph Jones. 

 

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