Under Dover

Father and sons knew their worth
objected to their place in the ladder of profit
and so were sent to where southern mines
took men deep under the English channel
no sparkling mornings for them, but toil in darkness
too far for safety, too damp for peace of mind
off-shift, nightmares of death by water
haunted villages across the weald
on-shift the family built farther out
tunnel men all, determined to live
to fight for justice back up top
 
Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond
Wilfred Whysall, my Grandfather, one of the sons in this poem

12 thoughts on “Under Dover

  1. I can’t even imagine a life as hard as that. Wow. There is a HUGE story here I would love to hear more about. You have expanded my vision. Thank you for this wonderful tale I knew nothing about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This a story that only mining families know, Kim. I like the father and sons’ defiance in their objection to ‘their place in the ladder of profit’ – brave men. So cruel to have their sparkling mornings taken from them and spend most of their lives in a tunnel under the English channel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On average 1000 miners were killed each year, but that was much higher for tunnel men, especially digging under the English Channel. Grandad and GreatGrandad left the mines and found other work, but Grandads three brothers liked the money and stayed. They were all specialist tunnel men, it was comparatively very well paid.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know much about the mines of England until reading Robert Macfarlane’s Underland. What coffined spaces, what toil in the dark. No wonder men dream of drowning. Love to hear more of this story. – Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have read accounts of those that work the mines here in the US. It a scary job with real danger. Thank you for sharing this story about your grandfather. It makes me want to spin a tale about my ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

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