The tale of Ticklebelly Tunnel

Long-time Hanging Heaton resident Jack Bunn has written down lots of his memories about village life. (D524A447)
Long-time Hanging Heaton resident Jack Bunn has written down lots of his memories about village life. (D524A447)

A long-time Hanging Heaton resident has written down lots of his memories about village life.

Here he tells the story of Ticklebelly Tunnel...

Just across the Wakefield Road below Earlsheaton Cemetery lies a green valley stretching from Wakefield Road to Owl Lane, bordered by the Old Pit Road to Saville Pit on the Bywell Road side and Chickenley Heath on the Ossett side.

There is a tunnel under the railway line from Shaw Cross pit to Ossett via The Rutlings to Ossett, which used to take coal from the pit to the main line railway.

This tunnel was known as Ticklebelly Tunnel. At the Owl Lane end of Ticklebelly Tunnel was the Shaw Cross pit hill, a used coal stack which stretched across to Owl Lane.

In the year 1926 there was a general strike and all the colliers were out on strike. Nobody had any coal in these days before central heating, everyone had a coal fire, so coal was as valuable as black gold.

My father and his mates used to go coal scratting among the pit stack to find pieces of coal which had been tipped on the stack in better times. They then sold the coal they had scratted to buy food for us kids as we were just about starving.

We had been on mucky fat and bread for months as my dad was a striking miner at Shaw Cross pit. They used sand bags to put the coal in – they called this coal Johnny Coal. The reason they used sandbags was it was easier to run away carrying a sandbag when the policemen and Shaw Cross security men appeared across the pit side of the stack to arrest them.

Me and our Stan used to go across the stack and take cover where we could see them set off from the pit, the idea being to chase the striking miners off the stack without their sandbags and coal. We used to create a distraction by throwing stones and getting them to race us instead of our parents – of course they never caught us.

Ticklebelly Tunnel was used as a place where you could put a part-filled bag of coal whilst you filled another. The reason being that if