Video: Dramatic footage of calf rescued from old coal mine by brave Burnley trio

This was the dramatic moment a group of explorers from Burnley came face to face with a calf stranded in an old mine shaft.

Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 12:30 pm

The trio, who call themselves the Northern Monkeys are like a modern day ' A team' and they mounted the rescue operation after discovering the animal in the shaft on land off Accrington Road, Hapton.

Damion Whitton, who was the first to arrive on the scene described the moment he saw the calf, and could not believe his eyes.

He said: "I stuck my head down into the hole and I swear there was a cow looking back at me.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This was the sight that greeted the Northern Monkeys when they went to explore an old mine in Hapton... a calf trapped underground.

"I've never been more shocked in my life even though my eyes could see a cow eight inches away looking back at me.

"My brain wouldn't process what my eyes were seeing."

Abandoning their search for coal and other interesting artefacts for the social media group UK Abandoned Mine Explorers, Damion and his fellow 'monkeys' Chris Kipper Taylor and Bruce Lee Knowles, knew they could not leave the distressed animal.

Damion said: "I realised straight away this was a job for us as we know all the mine tunnels around here better than most."

Our local heroes the Northern Monkeys (from left to right) Damion Whitton Chris Kipper Taylor and Bruce Lee Knowles

After informing the farmer who owns the land about the situation the lads spent the next four hours rescuing the calf they named Bongo.

Damion added: "We smashed the wall down as it would be the only way the cow would be able to get out.

"We aren't sure how it got in there in the first place but it could have been through a collapse."

The farmer assisted with breaking down the wall and Damion admitted that while it may have been the 'hardest and most dangerous' challenge for them to date, there was no way they were leaving the mine without the calf.

Damion Whitton admitted he could not believe his own eyes when he saw the cow stuck in the mine

He said: "We all risked our lives in this one as at one point we were in parts of the mine nobody has been in before as it's that dangerous.

"At the end it was Bruce who brought the cow back down that tunnel at the end, not even Dr Doolittle could have done that."

After releasing the trapped animal the trio shored up the hole leading to the enrtance to the shaft to prevent it getting back into the mine. They then informed the delighted farmer about the successful rescue.

The following morning a Good Samaritan, who believed the animal was still stuck in the mine, rang 999.

Fire crews from Hyndburn, Nelson, Lancaster and a 4 by 4 unit from Rawtenstall arrived on the scene and, unaware that the animal had already been freed, created a location for the cow to free itself.

Damion added: "I think it was a case of crossed wires somewhere along the line."

The calf rescue was just the latest in a series of good deeds the Northern Monkeys have carried out since they got got together at the height of the pandemic last year when they found themselves without work as plasterers.

Calling themselves explorers the friends have visited several historic sites and places of interest across the UK.

They were hailed as local heroes after taking it upon themselves to clear a beauty spot in Burnley blighted by fly tipping on an 'industrial scale.'

In just four days they managed to fill a staggering 400 bags of rubbish after they set to work on the site in Cliviger that has become a dumping ground for rubbish in recent years.

In January they won praise again for retrieving benches that vandals had thrown onto the frozen boating lake in Burnley's Thompson Park and in the spring they rolled up their sleeves to tackle the mountain of rubbish and tyres dumped on the site of the Hapton Valley mining disaster.

With the backing and support of various local companies and sponsors the trio planted up up the area with bulbs and flowers. They re-used some of the old tyres as planters in the shape of mine carts and, to create a wildlife haven, bird boxes were also placed at the site.