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David Banks

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Ref No:DB00001
Title:David Banks

I was describing how we went into line three and you disconnected from your Spembly unit, you walk through the frog shower, you connect to one of these hose reels: there was three of them. Well normally, you went in, in twos; you never went in on your own. You went in, in twos so you always took the first two air hoses. And on this particular occasion we had a, a fitters mate, a very old guy called Charlie: well, everybody was very old compared with me, but he, he would have been in his, probably in late fifties. So, me and the other fitter had gone in first and Charlie had followed us in, and Charlie connected into the third air hose, and wed walked off down the line, to start our job and then there was all this banging and crashing. I said What the hells wrong with him? Whats up Charlie? and he, you cant talk to each other in Windscale Suits, so he, hes sort of banging on the walls and What the hells the matter with him? and we went back and hes sort of dragging his legs. We said Is something wrong with him? Is he having a, you know, sort of seizure or something? And what it was, because the third air hose was very rarely used, it had filled up with water and of course as soon as he plugged into it, the water had come through the air hose, which comes in at shoulder height and it was running down his clothes and it was filling the, the legs of his suit up with water and by the time we got to him [laughing] he was up to the top of his legs in water and obviously he couldnt walk, and me and the other fitter we, we got a, an elbow each and we dragged him, back out to the frog showers and gave him to the safety man, said Here, sort him out! and then went back in to work, but er... I mean, another, another one we had, wed, purely by coincidence was with Charlie again, we were actually outside the building and very, very rare did you, did you wear Windscale Suits outside the building, but there was a, a pipe trench outside the building which had concrete covers on, and er, there was a leak in one of the pipes, they believed and our job was to crawl down this pipe trench, in Windscale Suits, er, to try and find out where the leak was. And we crawled down this erm... trench and there was bits of brick and bits of wood and stuff like that in it, as, as well as the pipes, and then we got to like a, a pile of rubble, which nobody had known about before we went in. Now, fortunately for me, Charlie was in the lead at the time and Charlie sort of crawled over the top of this rubble and then got to the other side and all, all that was on my side of the rubble, was his feet. Then all of a sudden his feet started flapping up and down and there was all this banging and crashing again, I thought Oh God, not again Charlie, whats the matter with you now? Anyway, I leaned forward and I, and I dragged him back out and what the problem was, was the other side of this fall, was full of water [laughing] and of course, hes in an air fed suit, so when he got the other side hes floating on the top of it. Obviously he couldnt put his feet down because his feet were still my side and he couldnt do anything at all, and he, he was trying to swim, in the Windscale Suit, but er... Poor Charlie.
JL What did happen then? Did you go through that area?
DB No we, we had to come back out and then er, we went back in later with er, like scraprs, and wed to scrape the er, the blockage out, to let the water out. Cause thats all it was, it was water, it wasnt contaminated or anything like that. But we were going down into a trench, er, which may have been contaminated, they didnt know what was in it, so we, you know, we were wearing suits as a precaution. But er... It, its just another one of those funny incidents that you always, remain in your mind forever. [clears throat]
JL So how deep would that trench have been, when you say you had...?
DB Erm... [exhales] Lets think now. It would be about four or five feet deep and mebbe three feet across.
JL Thats, so its quite a size?
DB Yeah.
JL Yeah. Its difficult to imagine.
DB But I mean it, I mean it, it... If itd been just an empty trench, with a pile of rubble, you would have just crawled over the pile of rubble, til youd got to the other side and then just stood up. Or got up onto your haunches at least, [laughing] but it was full of water, and he couldnt do anything at all. I should have just pushed him and launched him down the, down the trench.

Narrator:David Banks
Short Biography:DB00001-b
Full Transcript:DB00001-f