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Denton Mines Rescue Station

The Denton Mines Rescue Station was built on the south side of Stockport Road, adjoining Top Pit and, according to William Ollerenshaw, Manager of Denton Colliery, this was after the outbreak of war in 1914. It was built to comply with the Coal Mines Act of 1911 that made it compulsory for coal owners to establish rescue stations. These were required to be built at central locations where they could serve surrounding collieries within certain prescribed distances.

Around the time of the oral accounts given below the mine rescue instructor at the Denton Mines Rescue Station was John Thomas Fairhurst who had previously served in the 1/5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, as a Company Serjeant Major (Warrant Officer Class 2).

An oral account of the training of rescue teams at Denton in c.1920-22

They (the rescue teams) used to come down perhaps twenty (men) a day. They hadn't for to have nothing to eat whatever. He'd (the instructor) put them all packs on and he'd a gas chamber (simulated mine gallery containing sulphur fumes to imitate blackdamp, also known as stythe or blackdamp) and they used to go in this gas chamber and perform things in this gas chamber and then leave their masks on and they'd run all round Hulme's Wood - full equipment on. Back to the Rescue Station, they used to take everything off, have a good bath and a good feed.

An oral account of the training of a rescue team at Denton in c.1926-27

For the first week off we went once a week for three month then after that we went once a week every three month. Believe me it were hard work.... well it (the building) were a big barn set out in galleries (simulated mine galleries) just like a low pit. Just like an ordinary four foot seam would be and they'd sulphur burning in it and we had these gas mask things on. You'd to get your things working right first you know, then you'd go in, and then there were rubble everywhere, bricks, mortar, girders, the lot. And they had a tub (coal tub) that they had made deliberately hard to push as though it were twisted, as though it had been knocked about. Used to have to go to fill this tub with debris style of thing till you'd made a road through where you were blocked. Then you sort of reversed it and went at the other end and blocked it up again style of thing and carried on. Then going through these low galleries you know, then at the other end again you'd some timbering to do, this roof had fell in, put your bars across and all this sort of thing. Just as though it had been knocked about a bit you see. Then when you got to the half-way mark style of thing where you were going into the top gallery there were like an old-fashioned lorry sump.

Well you'd one of these and they'd converted it to a sledge stretcher.... so one of us had to be strapped in and the other five had to drag him along as though we were rescuing him you see. Everybody were edging not to get in it you see. We had to toss up for who went in you see. Then you were dragging him up ramps, up steps, and down them and believe me it were damned hard work.