Fred Lunn was born in 1935 and grew up living in several council houses on Temple Avenue on the John O’ Gaunt Estate. His father, Joe Lunn, worked in the saw mill at Rothwell’s Fanny Pit nearby.
Fred went to school in Rothwell but had many friends in Woodlesford. He learned to swim in the canal near Woodlesford Lock, went trainspotting at the station, and remembers regular visits to the Ritz Picture House. He had a good singing voice and his father used to take him to local working men’s clubs where he performed under the name “Boy Lunn”.
One of his first jobs was on the railway at Robin Hood station but before he joined the Royal Marines he worked for a short time on the surface at Water Haigh colliery. After he was demobbed in 1958 he returned to the pit where he was teamed up with a group of Irish miners, and through classes at Whitwood Technical College rose up the ranks to become a pit deputy.
During 1954 he witnessed the visit of the celebrity couple, Sir Bernard and Lady Docker to Water Haigh, and the subsequent trip by a group of pitmen to their luxury yacht which featured in the national press and the Pathe cinema newsreel.
In the 1960s Fred was active in the National Union of Mineworkers and the deputies’ union, Nacods, as well as representing Labour on the Rothwell Urban District Council. He was also in the mines rescue unit at the pit.
After Water Haigh closed down in 1970 he moved first to Newmarket colliery and then to Wheldale near Castleford where he had a serious accident which broke his hip. Click on the links below to hear Fred’s memories.