Chesterfield Mines Rescue

Training Galleries

Explore the basement of this 103 year old mines rescue building, known as the training galleries.


What was the purpose of the training galleries?

The mines rescue team used the training galleries to train, practice and hone their skills. Teams from other stations would also come to train. Navigating tunnels and taking walls apart to find hidden ‘bodies’ and bring them out was a typical training exercise. Another exercise called ‘entrap procedure’ involved the teams being sealed into a tunnel to practice surviving in an incident where they would have to wait for another team to get to them.

Still visible in some places, are the wall markings used during training exercises. Teams would use chalk to write on the walls, their team name and a direction arrow to indicate that they have entered or left a tunnel. This was a way of tracking where all the teams were.


What did it look like in there?

The galleries were kept clean and tidy by the teams, who were tasked with the maintenance of the basement on top of their training exercises. They regularly cleaned the dust, smoke and water, raked the boiler out and maintained the well hole situated in the basement. There were set areas for different purposes including storage to ensure that they could easily move around in all directions. The walls and floors were painted a pale blue colour which the officers instructed the teams to paint regularly. There was also a drainage system that the teams built to improve the build up of water.


How did they use the Hot and Humid chamber?

There was a hot and humid chamber equipped with a machine to produce heat which the teams would work, building sandbags, exercising with weights and building tube systems. This enabled them to experience the conditions that they would face underground or in a fire.


Did they really light fires in there?

Fires were lit to fill the tunnels with smoke for training exercises. This was stopped at a later date and smoke machines were used instead. Unknowingly, fires were lit for decades a short distance from a mains gas pipe. When this was realised it was quickly moved!


Explore the Training Galleries for yourself by clicking the 3D tour below

This model provides an opportunity to walk through the training galleries and gain a small glimpse of what it was like and how it was used all those years ago.