Bit about me .. Alan “Archie” Andrews

phoenix_parkMost of my childhood (early 1970’s) I grew up in the Dearne Valley area amidst the mining towns of the South Yorkshire coal fields. Whichever direction you turned, the view of black pit stacks and black pit heads donned the landscape. The dark masses of coal tips and the distant sounds of heavy machinery 24/7 were the lifeblood of the area and built around these landscapes were the homesteads of many that worked above and below the ground.

Bob Hole

Bob Hole

Having left secondary education in 1979 just prior to turning 16 years of age I, like many others at that age, decided to get a job in mining. I had some average school qualifications and a pretty bad attendance record but managed to get offered a placement on the NCB Mining Mechanical Apprenticeship Scheme. BEST THING I EVER DID!

My Dad was a miner and so was my Grandad after he served in the WW1 campaign. It was very common to see families and relations working at the same pits.

Incidentally it was at the pit where I inherited my nickname “Archie”. Older folks might remember “Archie Andrews” on the radio ?

I spent 13 years in mining before finally getting out of the industry and making my way into the world of computers. I.T. as it’s commonly known! That consumed another 20+ years of my working career, 14 years of it spent overseas in the USA.

Having recently returned home to England, with all my worldly experiences and memories haha :-) I eventually decided to drop my career and return to school to study for a degree in Illustration & Concept Art . The Arts in one way or another had always been a hobby/interest for me so why not?

As a student in Art I’m not sure if I will ever consider myself a “talented artist” but I do like think that my creative spirit has always inspired me to do something or make something interesting. I hope this book projects that spirit.

The Book idea itself has really evolved from a combination of things. My college work, my artistic interest and my pride in mining heritage. Sadly British coal mining and British coal miners, all but small a number, have now gone never to return.


52 years of life thus far, I can honestly say that with all life’s challenges, opportunities and great adventures, it was mining that got me started, it got me educated and it got me prepared for anything life could throw my way.