From Coalminer to Astronaut – A Life Less Ordinary

Blog Back Page 02Hi there.  My name’s Phil Reeder and I would like to welcome you to my Blog. 

For those of you who have found this Blog by accident and are finding understanding it just a little bit confusing you should know that it was specially created with only one purpose in mind.  That being to support my autobiography entitled “From Coalminer to Astronaut – A Life Less Ordinary” which I have just published via Amazon’s Kindle Direct service.

It is my hope that after looking at the pictures you see here, and reading some of the deliberately cryptic text that goes with the pictures, that you will consider going out and buying the book as the story within the book will help you to make sense of the pictures within the Blog.

For those of you who have gone out and brought my book after it was published, and then found your way here via the links at the end of various chapters within the book, then it is my hope that the pictures you see here will help to bring the written words within the book into even clearer clarity.

I really would have liked to have been able to feature in the book itself all the pictures you see here, but for various technical reasons that was simply not possible, so I hope that this Blog compensates for that fact and that you enjoy what you have read and then enjoy what you see here.

If someone were to ask me about my life so far I would have to say this:-

Phil Reeder – Been there, done that, got the tee-shirts”.

Coal Miner, Train Driver, Freelance Photographer, Film Maker, Glider Pilot (well nearly), Scuba Diver, Martial Artist, Creative Designer, Charity Fund Raiser, Horse Rider, Show Jumper, College Student, UK Further Education Worker, Anthropomorphic Model Maker, Japanese Animation Fan, Convention Co-Organiser, Gladiator Contender (once again nearly), Exhibition Co-organiser, Marketing Director, Photo Journalist, CGI Artist, Writer, Astronaut Trainee, Blogger and finally (so far) Author – and that’s just the good stuff.

I went looking for all of the above, and I found them.  Then there’s the list of interesting things that I did not go looking for.  Things which instead came looking for me.

Have you ever read about anyone who fell into a very deep mine shaft and survived?  If you read my book you will do.

Have you ever read about anyone who had an armed police escort to an International Airport Long-stay Car Park?  Yep you guessed it.

And last – but certainly not least.

Have you ever read about anyone who had his brakes fail whilst trying to stop at a set of traffic lights, and was then smashed into by a brand new Mercedes Benz, with personalised number plates which just happened to belong to the local newspaper?  If you read my book you will hear all about that as well.

And trust me there’s lots, lots more tales to tell.

From the very first moment of my life, from the very moment of my birth I have had a life which I like to think has been less than ordinary – and its not over yet.

Things just seem to happen, either for me or to me.  Call it fate, call it Karma, call it what you like and I have to wonder, what’s just around the corner, waiting for me to go looking for it, or for it to come looking for me.

For reference if it is a little unclear within the main section of the Blog a letter “C” before a number under a picture means Chapter.  The word “Pic” refers to picture so the very first picture in the main section of the Blog is entitled C1 Pic 01 or Chapter 1 Picture 01.  I hope that makes sense.

For those of you who have found this Blog by accident and not via the book it is my hope that what you see here inspires you to want to know the full story behind the pictures and motivates you to want to go out and buy the book.  It is my hope that should you decide to buy my book that you enjoy what you read and enjoy looking at the pictures which I hope will bring even more life to the words I have written.

A word on editing.  I have come to realise that there is huge difference between reading a book, writing a book and then editing a book.  I could have written the book, rewritten the book and then edited it at least a dozen different ways, and still tell exactly the same story.

So when does the editing end?  For me it was when I made the decision that this book, which has taken over three years to write for various reasons, must be published by a given date or it was never going to get published at all and just therefore become an eternal editing project.

So, with that all said lets get on with the show:-

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Chapters 1 – 10

Chapter 1 – Picture 01

Found this very old picture of me whilst going through the family’s picture achieves.  It would seem that even from an early age I had an interest in things with wings, things which flew through the air in one way or another.

C1 Pic 01

C1 Pic 01

Chapter 8 – Pictures 01, 02, 03 and 04

Just a few of the many, many things I have used my creative talent to design and then build, or have had built for me over the years.

Pic 01 and 02 show the desk I designed and then built for my workroom at home.  The organised (?) chaos you see on the desk is a permanent fixture.  Its a good job I know where (?) everything is.

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Pic 03 shows the Hi-Fi Storage Unit I also designed and then built for my home.

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Pic 04 shows Cocoon, the multi configurable cargo pod I designed for delivering payloads into low, medium and high Earth orbit.

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Chapter 9 – Picture 01

The Fidelity UA4 record player which could have quite easily cost me my life if things had gone more differently than they did.

In the time covered by this chapter in my life the Fidelity range of Hi-Fi systems was the ultimate in low-cost Hi-Fi excellence and design in my opinion.

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Chapter 10 – Pictures 01, 02, 03 and 04

Pic 01 shows the Yorkshire Coal Field as it was when I worked for the National Coal Board which later became British Coal.

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Pic 02 shows just a few of the books I acquired during my time working at Wath Main Colliery in South Yorkshire.

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Pics 03 and 04 show the typical working conditions to be encountered whilst working underground in my day.  For reference these last two pictures were not taken by me, they are ones which I found whilst searching the internet for reference material to cover this period in my life so credit is given here to the people who actually took the pictures.

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Chapters 11 – 20

Chapter 13 – Pictures 01, 02, 03 and 04

Pic 01 shows my first ever silent EUMIG cine projector capable of showing black and white or colour movies but without the capacity for playing any sound track the movies may have had on them.

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Pic 02 shows the Sankyo MF-606 cine camera which I used to film most of my cine based material.

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Pic 03 shows my first ever EUMIG sound capable movie projector which I still have in storage to this day.

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Pic 04 shows the Goodyear Airship Europa I went to see at the then Doncaster Airport.

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Chapter 14 – Pictures 01, 02 and 03

Pic 01 shows a rough design for the very large and very complicated overhead pulley and wire system I built which was used when filming my various animated movies.  For reference I designed the system in my head first and then built it physically.

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Pics 02 and 03 show the Lunar base model I built which was used when filming some of the long distance shots for my various animated movies.

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Chapter 15 – Pictures 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07

Pics 01, 02 and 03 show various views of a 15 ton Hunslet Hudswell diesel locomotive similar to the one I used to drive underground.  Not shown in these pictures is the 10 ton Brake Car which was also linked to the engine I drove.  Once again for reference these pictures were not taken by me, they are ones I found yet again whilst searching the internet for reference for my book so credit to the people who actually took the pictures is given here.

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Pics 04, 05 and 06 show some of the various documents I acquired whilst training, and after becoming an underground diesel locomotive driver.  For reasons which should be obvious I have blotted out parts of my signature from the pictures.

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Pic 07 shows the locomotive track as it was laid out between Wath Main and Manvers Collieries.  An explanation of the various sections of the track is given below:-

A” is the area where the locos were serviced each Night Shift before use.

B” is the Junction from where loco track operations were directed.

C” is the Number One coal loader which was not in operation for the whole time I was a driver on the track.

D” is the Number Two coal loader which was in operation for my entire time on the track.

E” is the gravity fed slip track which allowed full mine cars to be lowered toward’s the Hopper at Manvers Colliery.

F” is the slip track from which empty mine cars were picked up for transport back to Wath Colliery.

“X” is the point at which full mine car runs were dropped off and allowed to run backwards toward the Hopper at Manvers.

“Y” is the point at which empty mine car runs were pushed back toward the Loader at Wath to be connected to other cars already under the Loader by the Loader Guard.

“Z” is a entrance to a second siding which could be used to store additional empty mine car runs for use later on if for some reason the Loader at Wath had to shut down for some reason but empty mine cars were still being made available for transport to Wath from Manvers and all other storage sidings were full.

The numbers 1, 2 and 3 refer to the sidings which could be used for either full or empty mine car storage on what was referred to as the Junction side of the track.  The numbers 4, 5 and 6 were the sidings which could be used for either full or empty mine car storage on what was referred to as the Loader side of the loco track.

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C15 Pic 07

Chapter 16 – Pictures 01, 02, 03 and 04

Pic 01 shows various spacecraft, one of the four Lunar Surface Laser Tank’s and various Astronaut figures that I used whilst filming both the short run animated movies I made, and the much longer movie I was inspired to create later.

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C16 Pic 01

Pics 02 and 03 show the alien city I created for the longer movie.  It covered in total an area of sixteen square feet.  Sorry for various reasons I don’t do metric.

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Pic 04 shows what the city looked like after my Mum and I spent an entire week very slowly, and very painstakingly blowing it to pieces for the movie.

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Chapter 17 – Picture 01

This pic shows Sheba 2 as a pup and then fully grown.

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Chapter 19 – Picture 01

This pic shows my British Sub Aqua Club dive log and diving manual, plus my current NAUI Worldwide diving qualification card.

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C19 Pic 01

Chapter 20 – Picture 01 and 02

Pic 01 shows the symbol for the Rotaract Club.

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C20 Pic 01

Pic 02 shows the picture printed in a local edition newspaper for the 8mm film show Rotaract held in the local town of Darfield, Nr Barnsley in South Yorkshire to help raise money for local charities.  Note the wrongful spelling of my name – but more on that subject in later chapters

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Chapters 21 – 30

Chapter 21 – Picture 01

Pic 01 shows the picture printed in a local edition newspaper for the show jumping tournament Rotaract created as a means for raising money for local charities.

The tournament involved Roteract’s interaction with Rockingham House Farm where I had first learned to ride and then show jump.

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C21 Pic 01

Chapter 23 – Picture 01

If you look closely you will see the scars at the top of my right arm which I acquired on the afternoon of Friday, the 13th of March 1981.  I have a similar set of scars at the top of my left arm, down the middle of my back and a much smaller scar at the top of my thumb on my right hand.

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C23 – Pic 01

Chapter 25 – Picture 01

This picture shows Donna.

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C25 Pic 01

Chapter 27 – Picture 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05

Pic 01 shows the field I purchased from British Rail in what must have been the oddest purchasing agreement ever.

I took this picture for the highest point I could reach to try and get as much of the field in the picture as possible.  If you look closely you can see Donna near the centre of the picture.  To the left of the picture are some of the show jumps I designed and then had built.  To the far right of the picture is the stack from my first crop of hay and on the far side of the picture is my first Field Shelter in the early stages of construction.

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C27 Pic 01

Pic 02 shows my second much sturdier Field Shelter as it nears completion.  To the front of this is the stack from my second crop of hay.

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Pic 03 shows E with Donna.

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Pic 04 shows E during one of her early jumping lessons

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Pic 05 shows the collection of horse related books I acquired during my time as a horse owner.

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Chapter 30 – Picture 01

Seen here is the three feet long alien bomber I created, and then destroyed in such spectacular fashion with the help of my Mum.

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Chapters 31 – 40

Chapter 32 – Picture 01

Seen here on her final day is Donna.

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Chapter 33 – Pictures 01 and 02

Pic 01 shows Wath Main Colliery where I worked for 13 years after leaving school at 16.

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Pic 02 shows all that is left of it now.  I think the word “ABANDONED” says it all.  Perhaps I should have called this chapter in the book “Death of an Industry”.

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C33 Pic 02

For reference Pic’s 01 and 02 are not mine, they are ones I found whilst searching the internet for reference for this chapter so credit to those who took the pictures is given here.

Chapter 34 – Pictures 01, 02 and 03

Pic 01 show’s Rockingham College of Further Education in Wath-upon-Dearne where I had my eyes first opened to the joys of Further Education by the incredible and hardworking academic staff I encountered at the time, and to whom I shall always be grateful.

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C34 Pic 01

Pic 02 shows the same building when it became Rockingham Centre, an Annexe for the newly created Dearne Valley College.  See Chapter 58 of the book for that story.

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Pic 03 shows just a few of the books I accumulated during my time as a student at the College.

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C34 Pic 03

Chapter 35 – Pictures 01 and 02

Pic 01 shows my Shotokan Karate membership card for the year 1987, and Basic Karate Katas by Hirokasu Kanazawa which helped me so much during my time as a member of Wath Karate Club.

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C35 Pic 01

Pic 02 shows my friend Garry and his girlfriend Sue when they appeared on BBC TV’s Opportunity Knock’s.

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C35 Pic 02

Chapters 41- 50

Chapter 43 – Pictures 00 to 25

Pic 00 to 00C shows the model kits of the Megaro Zamac series featuring the Ma-Drum the very first anthropomorphic model kit I ever bought and then built.  The gods only know how much money I have spent on kits like this since then – ouch.

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Pics 01 and 02 shows the full two page instruction leaflet for a simple 1/72 scale (one inch to six feet) model of a Second World War MK1a Spitfire.

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Pics 03 to 25 show the pages and pages of the instruction booklet for the hugely complicated 1/100 scale (approximately one inch to eight feet) model of the MSZ-006A1 Zeta Plus Gundam from the massive Mobile Suit Gundam model universe.  It took me in the region of a full month to build this kit.

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Pic 26 shows just a few of the hundreds of anthropomorphic kits I have built over the years.  These kits are from the huge Mobile Suit Gundam universe and are on display in the main bedroom of my home.

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C43 Pic 26

Chapter 44 – Picture 01

Just a few of the various Anime-Day Japanese Animation Convention badges I acquired whilst attending various Anime-Days conventions in Sheffield.  Also shown is the badge I designed when I created the Anime-House Trading Company (Very) Limited.  See Chapter 56 of the book for that story.

C44 Pic 01

C44 Pic 01

Chapter 48 – Pictures 01 to 04

These pics show various pages for the promotional leaflet produced by Panasonic to promote its NVW1 playback/record VHS machine.

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C48 – Pic 01

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C48 – Pic 04

Chapters 51 – 60

Chapter 51 – Pictures 01 and 02

Pic 01 features the article which appeared in issue 3 of Super Control Magazine about Anime-Day three in Sheffield which took place on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, the 17th and 18th 1993.

C51 Pic 01

C51 Pic 01

Pic 02 is a close-up of the Convention Committee.  God’s help us.  We were so innocent and enthusiastic about anime in those days, and I had a lot more hair.

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C51 Pic 02

Chapter 53 – Pictures 01 and 02

These pics show two views of the Technology and Telecommunication Centre for firstly Rockingham and later Dearne Valley College.

C53 Pic 01

C53 Pic 01

C53 Pic 02

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Chapter 54 – Picture 01

This pic shows the second of the pictures taken of me, and used for my various applications when I applied to try-out for the Gladiators TV Show – trust me you do not want see the first one that was taken.  And for reference I don’t only have one leg, its just the way I was posed forthe picture.

C54 Pic 01

C54 Pic 01

Chapter 56 – Picture 01

Shown here is the cover I designed for the Spring 1994 Anime-House Trading Company (Very) Limited Catalogue.

C56 Pic 01

C56 Pic 01

Chapter 58 – Picture 01

This pic shows the cover for the proposal I submitted to the senior management at the college I worked at in an attempt to get a professionally run Reprographics Department created at the college.  Whilst unsuccessful then it did come to pass in an odd sort of way a few years later.

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C58 Pic 01

Chapter 60 – Picture’s 01 to 19

Featured here are various pictures from 3SF 3D, the exhibition of Science Fiction, Science Fact (space and aero space) and Science Fantasy models and artwork that my long time friend Roy and I staged at Rotherham’s Clifton Park Museum way back in 2000.

Pic 01 shows the poster I created as Marketing Director for the exhibition to help market the exhibition.

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C60 Pic 01

Pics 01A, 01B, 01C and 01D show Roy and I as we work on setting up the various Star Trek elements of 3SF 3D at Rotherham’s Clifton Park Museum site.

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Pics 02 to 19 show the various elements which made up the Science Fact (space and aero-space) elements of 3SF 3D.

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