Born in Nantybwch, near Tredegar, the son of a pharmacist, Weekes was educated at Tredegar county school, and gained a scholarship from the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company to University College, Cardiff, where he graduated in mining engineering.
He was appointed manager of Wyllie colliery on his 26th birthday, and in 1948 moved to be manager of the giant Oakdale mine nearby.
Early successes in labour relations led to secondment by the Colonial Office to the Enugu coalfield in Nigeria to deal with riots and their aftermath.
Back in the UK he was appointed director of studies at the NCB's staff college. In 1967 he was made production director in the South Midlands area before moving to London as Chief Mining Engineer and Director-General of Mining.
He returned to his homeland in 1973 as South Wales area director, where the challenge was to mitigate the closure of time-expired pits by investing in new projects at others.
As the 1984 strike loomed he helped to ensure that in South Wales it was policed by local officers, so avoiding the violent clashes that occurred elsewhere.
He also worked quietly with union representatives to see that safety work and maintenance kept the idle mines in good shape.
His career ended without a word of thanks from his chairman.
Kim Howells, an NUM official in Weekes's day, says:
There were many who believed that Phil Weekes, a brilliant mining engineer and communicator, should have been made Chairman of the Coal Board in the early Eighties. If that had come about the story of mining in Britain would be very different.
This photograph is by Dai the Pitman and was uploaded February 3rd 2011. © Dai the Pitman please do not copy or distribute without prior express permission.
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