Barrie Stevenson

HE’S nicknamed Spit because of his penchant for chewing tobacco. While he remembers working in mines with chocks like those in the photo from a recent visit to the UK, Barrie Stevenson is today the longwall technician at one of the world’s leading longwall mines.
Barrie Stevenson Barrie Stevenson Barrie Stevenson Barrie Stevenson Barrie Stevenson

Barrie Stevenson

Staff Reporter

Stevenson started work in January 1963 for the UK National Coal Board as a trainee at the Ferrymore colliery UK. He also worked at Dearn Valley colliery as a pony driver, at Wombwell Main as a timber lad, haulage hand and face worker before returning to Dearn Valley as a face worker.

After his migration to Australia he worked at Mt Isa Mines for a couple of years before starting at Liddell Colliery as a face worker in 1980. He went on to Macquarie Colliery, Munmorah State mine, Cooronbong Colliery, South Bulga Colliery and now works at the Xstrata Coal's Beltana Mine in New South Wales as a longwall technician.

His hobbies include collecting mining memorabilia, gardening and bird keeping. Favourite foods are pork pies and black pudding.

ILN:What is your earliest mining memory?

Spit: Getting on the cage to go under at 15 years old.

ILN: What made you choose mining as a career?

Spit: There wasn’t much choice for school leavers in the early 60’s apart from pit work, so it was a natural thing to go into the pits.

ILN: When was your first underground visit?

Spit:That was at 15 years of age at Ferrymore Colliery as a trainee miner.

ILN: What was your favourite job in a coal mine?

Spit: Working with the pit ponies in a totally hand filled pit, especially as it is all history and now gone.

ILN: What was your least favourite job?

Spit: Shuttle car driving. I hate it.

ILN: Who, or what, has most influenced your mining career?

Spit: The people who work in the pits, the men themselves, have most influenced me, as generally they are all terrific people. There is nothing finer then mining people.

ILN: What do you consider your best mining achievement?

Spit: My best achievement is to have worked all these years without serious accident.

ILN: What do you see as being the greatest mining development during your career?

Spit: The greatest development during my career is to have gone from the earliest of longwalls to one of the most up to date longwalls in the world.

ILN: Do you hold any mining records?

Spit: My only mining record would be the only shearer driver at Beltana to have cut 100m with only one drum cutting and tilting the shearer over at 45 degrees.

ILN: Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

Spit: I would to reach retirement without serious injury.

ILN: What was your most embarrassing moment in a coal mine?

Spit: My most embarrassing moment would be at South Bulga getting caught sitting on the underground toilet by a party of Japanese visitors. One of my work mates spoke to me so everyone turned their lights on me.

ILN: What was your scariest time in a coal mine?

Spit: My scariest time was on the face at South Bulga. The face was caving, stone was coming over the AFC and I had nowhere to go. (There was a change of underpants needed that night.)

ILN: What is your worst memory of coal mining?

Spit: The worst memory was when a workmate was buried in a roof fall and died.

ILN: Do you think that the day of the fully automated remotely operated face is near?

Spit: The fully automated remotely operated face is definitely not far into the future. We are halfway there, but I don’t think I will see it in my time.

ILN: What major improvements would you like to see on longwall operations?

Spit: The most important improvement for me would be the reduction of dust: this is one of the main issues for longwall operators.

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