`

Bill Anderson will never forget his first day at work. And he admits it scared him.

Former Doncaster miner Bill Anderson with artist Laurence Edwards, who is using his likeness on the planned Doncaster mining memorial
Former Doncaster miner Bill Anderson with artist Laurence Edwards, who is using his likeness on the planned Doncaster mining memorial

Bill Anderson will never forget his first day at work. And he admits it scared him.

Aged 16, he climbed into a cage, and was lowered deep underground with a large group of other youngsters.

For Bill and the other teenagers, it was the beginning of their careers as miners, as they started their induction course at Markham Main Colliery, in Armthorpe.

Mining was in Bill's blood. All his family were miners, and it was to the pit that he turned for work when he left Campsmount School in 1975.

He had been given a job at Askern Colliery, but the local mines sent their new starters to Amthorpe for a 10-day induction.

"It was August 28, 1975," he said. "I remember it well. It was a bank holiday Monday.

"I turned up with a lot of other school leavers like myself, and was sent underground.

"The first time I went underground I wondered what I was doing. It was frightening, to be honest. But once you had done it, you just got used to it.

"I started off working in ventilation, but once I was 18 I worked at the coal face as a collier.

"It was a good atmosphere, I had sound mates. It was hard work and little money. But I don't miss it now."

During 27 years working as a miner, Bill worked at a number of mines including Rossington, Bentley and Selby, as well as collieries in Scotland, before leaving the industry in 2002.

He retrained to work on the railways, replacing tracks all around the country, a job which is still does today.

The 59-year-old, who now lives in Woodlands, is now one of a number of former miners who have been selected to feature on the planned Doncaster mining memorial. Fundraising has started to try to raise around £130,000 to pay for the monument.

Around a quarter of the money has already been pledged, largely backed by a £30,000 donation of her own money from the elected mayor, Ros Jones.

Bill asked the council about the memorial after hearing about the plan from a relative who works for the council.

He met with sculptor Laurence Edwards, who created a sculpture of his head, which he plans to include as one of around 30 former miners' faces on the structure.

"He's a nice fellow," said Bill. "I've seen the scultpure and it's very good - I recognised it as myself straight away. I think it is awesome that I will appear on the monument. It's something for the the grandchildren or great grandchildren to see. I really hope the memorial comes to fruition. It would be great for the community.

"It will be there for many years - bronze does not melt.

The Free Press is backing the plan through our Miners Memorial Campaign.

Anyone who would like to be included on the memorial can leave their details at the current exhibition in the Frenchgate Centre, A Rich Seam, or at www.facebook.com/miningstatue/

But before the monument can be built, the money has to be raised through the crowdfunding appeal. The money has to be raised by October 26.

Pledges can be made on the crowdfund site www.doncastersminingstatue.org.uk, and donations can be made at the exhibition.

One side of the sculpture depicts a six foot figure of a miner in bronze, standing in a shaft. On the other side, busts of real miners who worked in the local collieries will be placed inside small alcoves.

The planned sculpture is intended to be placed in the Waterdale area, although the final site in that area will go out to consultation nearer the time of its construction.

The exhibition, called A Rich Seam, will be open until August 4, 10am – 4pm (closed Sundays) in Unit 78, Ground Floor, Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster.