A FORMER Whitehaven miner is ‘ecstatic’ to see the revival of an industry he thought had ‘finished’ when he last went down the pit 38 years ago.

Dave Cradduck, who worked at the former Haig Pit in Whitehaven for 20 years, has welcomed the Government’s decision to approve the £160million Woodhouse Colliery.

The controversial scheme was given the green light by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove on December 7, after years of dispute over whether it should go ahead.

Mr Cradduck said: “I’m ecstatic. I think it’s brilliant. It’s the most positive and sensible thing I have heard in my life.

“When I walked away from the mining industry in 1984, I thought that was it finished.

“When I discovered we couldn’t make steel without it and are bringing it in overseas, it doesn’t make sense to me, when there’s millions of tonnes of it here.

“This coal we’re standing on at the minute is high-grade coking coal and always has been. It was some of the best in the country.”

Mr Cradduck, who was only 18 when he began working down the pit in 1964, said: “It was the best job I ever had. I cried when I left.

“My first day going down the shaft was terrifying. 1,200 feet in about a minute. When the cage dropped, it went at freefall speed and everybody stopped talking.

“It was quite nerve-racking but you got used to it.

“The industry got safer over the years. All those improvements were bought with miners’ tears from the past.

“The safest way to mine coal is in this country. We had an act of Parliament that governed how you worked in the pit. Other parts of the world don’t have the safety record we have.

Mr Cradduck now runs ‘Pit Crack’ – a group of former miners from west Cumbria who meet regularly for a chat and a brew.

He said: “My roots always come back to mining. I now do mining research in Whitehaven.

“It was a dangerous job. Everybody knew that. But everybody looked out for each other. The camaraderie – I didn’t get that in any other walk of life.”

The new mine will remove coking coal from beneath the Irish Sea for the production of steel.

Developer West Cumbria Mining say the project will create 500 jobs and help slash the need to import foreign coal.  

Environmental campaigners, including Friends of the Earth, have strongly opposed the mine, saying it will increase carbon emissions and damage the UK’s climate credibility.

READ MORE: Whitehaven coal mine 'life changing' for locals, says Copeland Mayor