The Forest of Dean has lost one of its freemining legends following the death of ‘gentle giant’ Robin Morgan.
Mr Morgan was thought to be the oldest freeminer still mining in the Dean.
He started at the age of 15 and was down a mine even earlier helping his father at 14.
His daughter Jane said: “He loved the pit, he virtually died with his boots on.”
Jane helped to run Hopewell Colliery with her father, which offers underground tours.
She said: “It was a pleasure to work with him and get to know him.
“He became more than a father in recent years, he was my best friend.”
News of his passing brought an outpouring of grief on Facebook pages with universal tributes describing him as a ‘true Forester’ and a ‘wonderful man’.
“I never was that interested in talking about the pits but now they are some of my favourite memories of dad,” said Jane.
“It was lovely being surrounded by family to hear him talk about the pits.”
During his working life he worked the face of deep mines for the National Coal Board, dug tunnels in Gloucester, and under the railway at Cheltenham.
He had some time away from the coal face doing other work, but mining always drew him back underground.
“I can’t imagine not mining – wouldn’t know what to do with myself,” he once said.
It wasn’t a money spinner – what was important to him was passing on the legacy and knowledge of the freeminer.
In recent years he expressed concern about freeminers of the future.
With the closure of the maternity hospital at the Dilke, he worried a whole generation of Forest children would be born outside the Forest, losing their freemining rights.
Speaking in 2013 he said: “All I am doing is keeping the mine alive so it is here long after I am gone.”
Rich Daniels is one freeminer who will continue Mr Morgan’s legacy. Rich worked alongside him at Hopewell Colliery and describes him as ‘one of a kind’.
He said: “He was a true Forester and he leaves a huge legacy in his commitment to freemining in the Forest of Dean.
Rich added: “In his time he achieved what he wanted to achieve in order for the free-mining tradition to continue.
“He had immense knowledge of the trade that is unique to the Forest. You won’t find any of it written down.
“Freemining is an oral and practical tradition and that still holds today. You learn it by working and that’s what Robin did.
“He taught me a lot. He was straightforward, reliable and honest. If he said he was going to be there at nine, then he would be there at nine.”