George Gater

Water Haigh colliery seen from Fleet Lane. The pit head baths are in the single storey modern building nearest the entrance. Next to it are the pit offices. No. 1 shaft headstock is on the left and No. 3 on the right. The large building on the left housed the washery and screens. Just visible on the far left are the slag heaps in the distance between the railway and canal.

The Gater family migrated to Yorkshire from Staffordshire at the time of the 1926 miners’ strike. Frank Gater and three of his sons were taken on as miners at Water Haigh colliery and a fourth son went to work for Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries. 

George Gater married Sarah Anne Tooley, the daughter of another local miner, and their son, also called George, was born in 1928. He grew up at 8 Kitchener Street living with his grandparents and left school at the age of 14 to work for Kitson’s engineering firm in Hunslet. 

From the age of 18 he served for two years with the West Yorkshire Regiment in Italy and Malta and later gravitated to the pit in 1958 where he was employed as a surface fitter. When Water Haigh closed in 1970 he moved to Fanny Pit at Rothwell from where he took redundancy when it too was shut down in 1983. 

George Gater. Imtarfa barracks officers mess roof, Malta.

Click on the links below to hear George talking about his family and working life in a recording made shortly before his death in August 2011.  

A Staffordshire family

Pit top fitter

Frank and Lily Gater.
Swillington Miners’ Welfare football team. Back row: Derek Gater, Jake Ruecroft, Eric Hughes, Joe Ryan, Brian Ball, Graham Hawkridge. Front Row: Ray Liddle, Tot Ryan, George Gater, Ivor Williams, Kenny Ramskill. Derek Gater had trials at Leeds United and Huddersfield Town and played for most of his career for top Yorkshire semi-pro team, Selby Town.
Jim Butterick, George Gater and Alan Ashton.