Following fatal accidents at Whitehaven (1947) and Creswell (1950) in which large numbers of men were asphyxiated, the Chief Inspector of Mines decreed that ‘Self-Rescuers’ should be provided for all men working underground to protect them from lethal doses of carbon monoxide gas.
Trials commenced in 1953 but the available technology proved unreliable and the scheme was abandoned. Trials resumed ten years later but it wasn’t until 1967 that a viable solution was found. By the 1970’s every man entering a mine was required to carry a self-rescuer and keep it on his person during the whole of his time underground. Stored in a metal container attached to the miner’s belt, the device was designed to give at least one hour’s protection from the effects of carbon monoxide gas. Modern Self-Rescuers are no less important today and offer much longer periods of protection against toxic gases.
Fig. 1 Self Rescuer trials at Sherwood Colliery, NCB North Nottinghamshire Area, in 1963. Photo Credit – Coal Authority.
Fig. 2 Self Rescuer as part of the mining heritage display at the South Derbyshire Mining Preservation Group’s HQ at Gresley Old Hall, Church Gresley. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner
How to Use Your Self-Rescuer
Booklet produced by the National Coal Board (NCB) in 1972 on how to use a Self Rescuer. Source: NCB Mining Department 1972. Part of MuBu Miner collection.
Illustrations and sequences in the photos by NCB South Nottinghamshire Area.