I was sent by The Independent, along with a writer, to meet Gerald Haynes, the last free miner in the Forest Of Dean.
Free miners are allowed to mine and sell any coal, iron, ochre and stone under a royal charter dating back some 800 years. But it’s hard, dirty work. And lonely. Gerald spent six days a week on his own down there with no phone signal, no radio to listen to (radio signals don’t travel well under ground), and in darkness.
His thick Gloucestershire accent was difficult to understand. As we chatted he lit up his pipe, pondered a question and there was the best shot from the assignment.