Dan Fraser, 81, from Bellshill, spent six years working at Hamilton Palace Colliery

I WAS 16 when I started at the Pailis in 1951. I lived in Viewpark, Lanarkshire, and that was the nearest pit. It was all hand work then. Later there was machinery that did the job of a hundred men but we didn’t have those.

When you went down the pit you had two checks: one square and one round. Before you went down you left your round check with the pit head man. If the square one didn’t come up they knew someone was missing.

Sometimes if your lamp wasn’t charged properly it would go out and you would need to sit in the dark until someone came.

My father and three brothers were all miners but we worked in different pits. My eldest brother, Hector, was killed when he was 19 while working in a private mine in Lanarkshire.

I was involved in an accident at Hamilton Palace Colliery where I was buried alive. I had only been working there a year.

A build-up of pressure caused the roof to cave in. The other men managed to get me clear, but as they tried to pull me out the roof came away again. They managed to free me a second time.

I was bringing up hutches filled with coal and that saved my life because they stopped the roof girders from fully collapsing.

HeraldScotland: Former coal miner Dan Fraser worked at the Hamilton Palace Colliery. Picture: Kirsty AndersonFormer coal miner Dan Fraser worked at the Hamilton Palace Colliery. Picture: Kirsty Anderson

You had to be 21 to get the full wage. After I finished my pit head training and the jobs were being handed out the gaffer asked my name. I said: “Fraser” and he asked: “Where from?” It turned out he knew my father as they both drank in the same club.

He said: “I’ll give you a job as a horse driver.” My wages jumped from 9s 6d to 25s a shift. All the miners got free coal. I was allowed two tons a year, but if you had a house you got seven tons.

I met my late wife Catherine as she was a conductress on the No 14 from Coatbridge to Hamilton. When I was transferred to Cardowan in 1957 she got a transfer to that bus route.

If there was a queue for the bus as a pit worker you were allowed on first. The downside was you didn’t get sitting down and had to stand at the back on the open platform.

By the end of a shift everyone would be caked head to toe in black coal dust. There was no pit baths at Bothwellhaugh until the mid-1950s.

It was hard work but there was a camaraderie and humour. I left two years before the Pailis pit closed. There was a real sense of sadness as everything wound down. Some men had worked there for 50 years.

READ MORE: ​Breathing fresh life into the story of forgotten Lanarkshire mining village Bothwellhaugh