Miners at the UK’s last remaining deep-coal pit sang as they travelled underground for their final shift this morning.
Nigel Kemp, 50, a banksman at Kellingley Colliery, in North Yorkshire, said there was a sense of “comradeship and friendship” among the men at the mine today despite the poignancy of the occasion.
Mr Kemp said he could hear the miners singing Tom Jones’s Delilah on their last journey to the coal face and believed they would still be singing when they emerged this afternoon.
He said: “This is what makes us very special, the mining community. The men have gone down today singing ’my, my, my Delilah’. Every single man on the cage, you could hear them 400ft down singing. And I do believe they’re going to come out singing as well.
“That’s why it’s great to work here because of the comradeship and friendship.
“It’s strange because you’ll see people hugging and laughing and that’s not the sense, but we can’t turn the clock back now, it’s history, no matter what we do now, it’s gone.”
Mr Kemp, who has worked at the mine for nearly 33 years, said the closure was especially poignant for him.
His father sank the shafts at the mine in 1959 and Mr Kemp, who is being kept on for the next eight weeks to seal off the shafts, will be one of the last men to work on them.
Mr Kemp said: “Everything I’ve ever had in my life has been paid for by this colliery.
“I came here from school and it’s been my life ever since.
“I’m going to have to go out and find work but I’ve got no transferable skills whatsoever.”