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Simon Toby Cochrane 1951-2014


Geologist with the National Coal Board (Deep Mines), North Yorkshire Area, and remembered for his involvement with various mining projects at Pontefract, Castleford and Wakefield Collieries.

Simon 'Sam' Cochrane, who has died aged 63, joined the National Coal Board (Deep Mines) in 1974. He monitored, and recorded the geology in underground coal mine developments and logged surface boreholes, in West Yorkshire.


Simon was born in London on the 9th May 1951. However, the family soon moved to Sheffield, and ultimately to Kendal, Cumbria, where Simon attended the Grammar School. The proximity of the Lake District would have an enduring influence on Simon. It was an area for leisure pursuits that instilled in him a lasting love for the countryside, and geology. In 1969, he attended Leeds University to read geology, but a serious car accident deprived him of a year's study. He graduated in 1974, and joined the Yorkshire Regional Geological Services, NCB (Deep Mines), Doncaster.

Simon was assigned to the North Yorkshire Area, where he had responsibility for the older collieries around Wakefield (i.e. Lofthouse, Manor, Park Hill, Rothwell, Walton). Together with surveyors and mining engineers, Simon was involved with a drilling programme to determine the depths of old shafts, and the examination of early geological records. The information was used to assess the likely risks presented by old un-charted coal workings. His other duties included logging exploratory boreholes, and monitoring the underground geological environment.

Later, he was involved with a variety of new projects to increase production at existing collieries. For example, the construction of surface drifts at Allerton Bywater and Nostell Collieries, developments to new reserves at Prince of Wales and Ackton Hall Collieries, and the proving of the deeper un-worked strata sequence at Sharlston Colliery.

Simon developed his own unique style to explain Coal Measure geology to his non-geological colleagues. His communication skills were an asset to the geology department, and he was liked by all.

He was also an active member of the Geological Society Yorkshire group, and was a strong supporter of Chartership for Geologists, a status he ultimately achieved with much pride.


The demise of the coal industry in the 1990s meant a career change, and so in 1994 Simon embarked on a career in teaching. He taught science at Lawnswood High School and Cockburn School in Leeds. His greatest personal satisfaction was gained working for the Hospital and Home Teaching Service, Leeds, which brought him into daily contact with children from a variety of backgrounds, and with physical or behavioural difficulties.

In 1974, Simon had married Carol. Their two daughters are Claire and Amanda, and he was proud of their many achievements as he watched them growing up. Claire's marriage this Summer undoubtedly gave him much happiness.

Simon's popularity is reflected by the many who attended a Service to Celebrate his Life on 3 September 2014. His sudden untimely death from a heart attack on 21 August 2014 was a shock, and a great loss, to all who knew him.

Robert Vernon
Carol Cochrane