On Friday, December 1st, the Rhondda Tunnel Society along with 'Hammonds' of Aberdare, who represent Highways England, Richard Storey of Balfour Beatty (Tunnels Examining Engineer) Steve Jones (RTS Engineer) Graeme Bickerdike (Journalist and Photographer) along with the obligatory Mines Rescue Team (Dinas) assembled ready to enter the Rhondda Tunnel. At about 9.30 am on a bitterly cold day, it was time to enter.
The First Team to enter was Hammonds who's task was to measure the Airshaft to find out the diameter so the new cap can be designed which will be installed early next year. Team two then entered, Steve Jones, Richards Story, Jim Maggs and myself. As only Two teams were allowed to enter at the same Time, Team Three, Tony Moon and Graeme Bickerdike entered after Team 1 (Hammonds) ascended to the surface.
In all the times I have been fortunate enough to enter the Tunnel, the worse part is the crawl through the narrow pipe from the inspection chamber to the Tunnel. I have mentioned a few times to my colleagues and Mines Rescue that we should use a skateboard to get through the pipe which has always been met with laughter, sniggers and a few skeptical groans. So this visit, I decided try out my idea or invention.
The skateboard was donated to the Society by Helen Pick of Elegance Treorchy. So I drilled a hole at the front and back of the board and tied enough nylon rope each side of it so it could be pulled back and fore through the pipe. The time came to try it. Billy Teague (Mines Rescue) crawled through the pipe closely followed by the skateboard as he took the rope through with him. I indicated I was on laying on the board and was ready to be transported into the Tunnel.
With minimal effort, I was catapulted through the pipe in three seconds flat. No crawling, no exertion, no puffing or panting or grunting. PURE GENIUS! Everyone including Mines Rescue agreed that it was the bees knees. The fastest through was Jim Maggs. He shot through like a torpedo out of a tube! We had a job to catch him! Once in the Tunnel the duties of the Officers began. A long hard day unfolded, but we all realise how privileged we all are to be in the Tunnel. The day ended in the dark at about 5.00pm. Next: The Detailed Survey early next Year.