Former Creswell mineworker celebrates big birthday at care home with family

James Alfred Adams was born on July 8, 1919, along with his identical twin Benjamin Charles Adams, to parents Benjamin and Mary Adams.

In 2019, James celebrated tuning 100 as guests celebrated the milestone at Creswell Social Centre.

James lived and worked in Creswell all his life, until moving to Richmond Care Home, of Recreation Road, Shirebrook in 2019.

He started work at Creswell Colliery at the age of 14, after his father took him and his brother Charles to the colliery, asking for a surface job – as working underground in 1933 still involved life-threatening conditions.

James worked for Creswell Colliery as a banksman, operating the lift shaft which took miners to the coal face and back to the surface at the end of their shift, until his retirement in 1983..

In 1950, a tragic accident at Creswell Colliery claimed 80 lives, as an underground fire resulted in toxic fumes seeping into working areas. James worked closely with emergency services to bring out men who were killed by the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The next day after the disaster, James returned to work.

Even now, more than 70 years later, James said it is ‘incredibly hard’ to speak about the disaster and feels it is something he ‘will never get over’.

He met and married his girlfriend, Marion Ruth Buchanan in 1941. A small church wedding was followed by a reception at Church Rooms on Duke Street.They had been married for 68 years when Marion died in 2009, aged 90.

The couple lived most of their married life on Duke Street, where they are said to have massively enjoyed the ‘marvellous’ community of friends and neighbours.

The couple have five children – Pauline, Wendy, Graham, Jeffrey, and Janet, aged 61-79 – as well as eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

James said: “I am so proud of his family, many of them achieving what I could have never hoped to do as a colliery worker.”

Some of James’s children and almost all of his grandchildren have gone on to further education and university, with the family now spread over Derbyshire, Exeter, Nottinghamshire, Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol and London.

On life in the care home, James said: “I am so grateful for all their kindness and loving care.

“I enjoyed my birthday and the fact that all the staff and residents made such a big fuss of me and made me feel so special.”

Kate Birch, care home manager, said: “James had a fantastic day, he spent time with his family and his friends here at Richmond.

“James and his family were so thankful to all of our staff for the time and effort they put into making his big day so special.

“James became our ‘Captain Tom’ during the pandemic as he continually said ‘we will meet again’ to family.”

His family said they are hugely proud of James and feel blessed to have a ‘wonderful father who remains fit and well with a very sharp mind’ and is an ‘inspiration’.