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Robert Bradley - Retired Surveyor

- My History Of Mining -


Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire And Leicestershire

A Comprehensive History of Mining in the
Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Coalfields
in Chronological Order


This History was originally only for my own personal use because of my deep interest in the subject
however I later felt that other people may want to know about the subject of mining in general and its associated subjects

Robert Bradley

  • Apprentice Teversal Sub Area / Group 1953-1959
  • Assistant Surveyor Teversal Colliery 1960-1963
  • Senior Assistant Teversal Colliery 1963-1971
  • Senior Assistant Ollerton Colliery Feb-Oct 1971
  • Surveyor Ollerton Colliery 1971-1986
  • Senior Surveyor Nottinghamshire Area HQ 1986-1990
  • Consultant British Mining Consultants 1990 - 1991

More Information - A Surveyor's Job

Author's Introduction

I first became interested in mining history in the early 1950s, shortly after starting work as an Apprentice Surveyor in the Teversal group of pits, Silverhill, Sutton, Pleasley and Teversal Collieries, when one day the Sub-Area Surveyor, Clarence Skeavington, was called to examine a hole that had appeared in a field opposite to Silverhill colliery and this was the catalyst that began my researching Mining History in depth in 1956.

I was taken along to assist in the measuring of the hole, which upon closer inspection turned out to be an old shaft. Duly armed with the survey information we returned to the office and the position of the shaft was plotted on the Working plan of the mine. Searching through old records and plans kept at the office failed to reveal any such position for a shaft in that particular field. Consultation with the Mines Records Office at Sherwood Lodge at that time, revealed several old shafts on various other plans of the area, but it became apparent that not one complete plan contained all the shafts or areas of previous coal working. Each plan showed different information.

So unsure of the extent of the old workings and shafts in the area, after thoroughly examining all the plans, the Area Chief Surveyor, Leslie H Watson, now involved, decided that the wording 'Suspected Ancient Workings' be annotated across the plan. This to me did not seem to be a satisfactory answer, but at the time had to suffice.

Over the years various other bits of information came to light and gradually more areas of coal working, particularly in the Top Hard and Dunsil seams could be plotted on the plan. Opencast workings in the area again revealed the extent, when the old workings were exposed. Surveys were undertaken to all known shafts within the Meden valley and all old plans of workings were copied and orientated to the plotted shaft positions. This entailed reducing or enlarging the old plans as many plans were plotted on strange scales, such as 1 chain, 2 chains (or 1/1584), 3 chains, 4 chains, 6 chains and 9 chains to an inch etc as well as 6 inches to the mile (1/10560), and 1/2500.

Fascinated by the fact that over the years, knowledge of the position of mine workings and shafts had been lost, I began collecting and collating information about mining from any source possible, in order to try to understand why the 'old men' had worked coal in one area and not in another. Where possible the information was documented on the plan of the area to be preserved. However much other information could not be, and needed to be shown in a different format. Therefore where possible a history of each mine is documented.

As I progressed through my career on qualifying as a Mining Surveyor from Apprentice to Assistant, Senior Assistant at Teversal Colliery, Surveyor for the Mine at Ollerton Colliery and finally Senior Surveyor at Nottinghamshire Headquarters, my fascination did not diminish and I continued to collate bits of information about mining throughout the country but mainly about the local mines. The information found by research is documented throughout.

Of course many remarks are from my own personal experiences of work in many of the coal seams in the region, and although the book is dedicated mainly to the mining of coal in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire through my work or underground visits to about 30 odd coal mines, and experience in other parts of the country such as underground visits to the Boulby Potash mine being the deepest in the UK at 1,315 yards (1,200m), and one of the shallowest, the Gotham Gypsum mine, as well as 2 local drift mines, opencast sites, pits in the North East and South Wales, Yorkshire, private footrills, lead mines, fluorspar, gold mine, silver mine, Winsford salt mine, Welsh slate mines, copper mine etc, plus many other visits to mines and associated establishments in Britain and worldwide in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and USA, enabling me to compare and pass comment.

It is with this in mind that this book will hopefully enlighten many people to the underground world left by the coal miners of the past and the great industry that is now reduced to a just a 'handful' of mines in the country, which I believe will surely disappear.

It will also show that danger still lurks in the form of a small weed covered hillock in a field corner.

Robert Bradley ©

See 2015 Book 8

Click Here For Bibliography
Information has been used from a wide range of sources

For my wife Mary, daughters Jane and Karen and grandson Gabriel.

Also in memory of my Great, Great Grandfather Eli White, Great Grandfather Robert White, and Grandfather Eli White MBE, Great, Great Grandfather John Bradley miners of the past and my father John Edward Bradley, a surface worker.

Four of my brothers-in-law worked in the industry ... Barry Sadler (haulage and coalface at Teversal Colliery), Bernard Dobb (haulage and coalface at Bentinck Colliery), Barry Bladon (Apprentice Surveyor at Teversal Aug 1967 - Aug 1969, left the industry), John R Arnold (Wages department New Hucknall and Head of Time and Wages, Kirkby Colliery).

My sincere thanks go to David Clarke MBE, at the Mining Records Office, (2000 - 2016) and Helen Simpson (from 2016 to October 2022) and Coryn Reynolds (from October 2022 on…. ) and staff for supplying much valuable information and photographs that has enabled this compilation of books to be written, and to many others for their comments and in particular Alan Beales for his kind addition of a large majority of the fatal accidents.

My sincere thanks go to Fionn Taylor MA Experimental Fine Art (Slade UCL), PGCE, ATD for his adaptation of all this information allowing it to be accessesd on the internet and assisting in the production of the information in the printed 9 volumes of the work.

I have included many personal experiences in my career, to try to illustrate certain parts of mining that many are unaware of, even some working in the coal industry and including the many associated Rules and Regulations etc imposed over the years.

On occasions references are made to other counties where I think the information is relevant.




The following pages come from
Robert Bradley's History of Mining in 9 Volumes
Copies of which are in the British Library, 2016




Coal, as a domestic fuel, was not popular, but the invention of the fireplace and chimney changed it all




Uni Notts
Dr Robert Bradley, Honoris Causa, Doctor of Letters
University of Nottingham - 22nd July 2019

Doctor Robert Bradley, Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa


  • Abandoned Mine Shafts - Why do they collapse?
  • Accidents - A List Of Possible Accidents, Illnesses etc., Throughout The Life Of The Industry
  • Apedale Museum
  • Archives ... Coal Mining Records, Sources for History of Mines and Quarries (Coal Authority)
  • Bevin Boys
  • Bilsthorpe Memorial
  • Bilsthorpe Half Wheel
  • Bilsthorpe Mining Museum
  • Bilsthorpe Heritage Trail
  • Canaries Down the Coal Mine
  • Chimneys - Coal, as a domestic fuel, was not popular but the invention of the fireplace and chimney changed it all
  • Coroner's Court
  • Dirt Tipping
  • Don't Burn Coal - Other Fuels For the Generation of Electricity
  • Forest of Dean - Small Mines
  • History of the Mining Records and Abandonment plans

    In 1853, in the Home Office in London, Robert Hunt began collating  information of coal mines and in 1854 the first list of mines was published with the owner’s names. In the Midlands Coalfields there were 105 pits in North Derbyshire, 5 pits in NW Derbyshire, 7 pits in South Derbyshire, 11 pits in Leicestershire and 17 pits in Nottinghamshire. (See 1854 for names). There were some pits missing but not many.
  • Later the respective seam names were documented. Lists were made for every Coalfield.
    As more information became available it was added to the list, such as Agents and later after 1873 Colliery Manager’s names and certificate numbers either by examination or service certificate, and also added after 1887 the names of Undermanagers similarly. From 1894 the number of workmen was also added.
    A complete list of all collieries and information was published annually up to 1947/50 by the Home Office.
    From 1948 ‘Guide to the Coalfields’ was published annually by the Colliery Guardian with all manner of information but now including maps showing the site position of each colliery in the UK.

    Ernest Harwood Clarke (Colliery Manager’s certificate number 1274) from Kent originally and later with Eastwood Collieries Ltd joined HMI and was put in charge of abandonment plans and mining records in the region from 1914 to 1947.  During the Second World War 1939 to 1945 all the plans were moved to a secure location near Buxton, Derbyshire for safe keeping away from any possible enemy bombing by Germany.
    The National Coal Board was formed in July 1946 and all coal mines previously in private ownership were now managed by the NCB from vesting day 1st January 1947.

    Abandonment plans were kept at No2 Area HQ at Mansfield Woodhouse from 1947 under the custodianship of Bob Bailey (Surveyor’s certificate number 1109) ex Surveyor at Welbeck Colliery for the New Hucknall Colliery Co.

    After only 2 years though No2 Area was disbanded in July 1949 and the HQ closed and the 10 collieries were absorbed into neighbouring areas … No1 Area with HQ at Bolsover, No 3 Area HQ at Edwinstowe and No4 Area HQ at Huthwaite and the plans and records were then transported to accommodation at the Divisional HQ for the East Midlands, Burntstump near Arnold, Nottingham under his keeping 1949/50.

    Percy W Hett (2111) ex Surveyor Silverhill Colliery was appointed Mining Records Officer at Division in his stead in 1956 and remained there until 1967 when the abandonment plans and mining records were taken to Eastwood Hall, HQ of No5 Area 1967 because the Divisional HQ was to be closed when the NCB was reorganised once again from April 1967.

    Percy Hett retired in 1987 and Jack Milburn his assistant and previously ex assistant Surveyor Warsop Colliery was appointed Mining Records Officer for a short time until 1988/1989 when yet again there was a further reorganisation of the Coalfields. The decision to close and then sell Eastwood Hall meant that the plans had to be moved to temporary accommodation in the old Pit Head Baths at Newstead Colliery, that had closed in 1987, now under the management of David W Clarke ex Assistant Surveyor seconded to Eastwood Hall department some 2 years before.

    In 1992 the many thousands of plans and records were then moved to new accommodation at Bretby HQ in Staffordshire, with the remit to completely reorganise the system by 1994. A copy of an abandonment plan had to be traced if a copy was required prior to this and also had to be scaled up or down by hand using an eidograph for example until larger photo-copying machines were available. This was a very long and laborious task.

    The Coal Authority at Berry Hill, Mansfield was inaugurated in October 1994 and staff were housed in the large building that had been built in 1965 for the NCB computer centre for wages for the NCB East Midlands workforce.  Later, purpose-built accommodation opposite the main building was opened to house all detailed general information that was kept in boxes and managed by a separate department and all the abandonment plans and mining records were transferred from Bretby and were available for viewing from 2001 managed by David W Clarke (MBE) (6912).  A small team under his supervision was set up to scan all plans, firstly in black and white then as technology improved, scanned again later in colour and digitised. As each seam and then mines were abandoned, after perusal by HM Inspector those seam plans were added to the collection.  Due to the size of some of the very old plans a series of cameras took images and ‘stitched the nine together’.  To facilitate ease of copying the plans without ‘stitching the images’ a one off large overhead framework containing 6 cameras was installed in an enclosed room in the main building and all large plans were re photographed as one image. It was unique, being the only one of its kind and was imported from Germany. However when it was thought that no more large plans were needed to be photographed the camera was dismantled and scrapped. David Clarke was transferred to other duties in the main office block and Helen Simpson who had experience in museums etc in Lancashire was appointed in charge as Mining Records Officer from 2015 to October 2022 and when she retired, Coryn Reynolds who was her assistant was appointed Mining Records Officer from October 2022 on.

    All mine plans can be accessed using the department’s computer and seen and manipulated for size etc and copies can be obtained on any scale required.

    Similarly many thousands of photographs of surface and underground activities can be similarly viewed on a computer screen and copies can be obtained at the ‘touch of a button’. Such is the technology of today in 2023. Sometime in the near future it will be possible to access abandonment plans on personal computers in one’s home.

  • Kent Coalfield
  • Life Of A Mine Depends On
  • List of Collieries, Midlands Area 1285 - 2015
  • List of Coal Seams in UK
  • (Strata Names)
  • Mines Rescue Images
  • Newspaper Stories
  • Open Cast Sites in Decline in the UK
  • Pit Ponies, Gallery
  • Power Stations
  • Prime Ministers With Dates and Pit Closures
  • Roadways - Distortion due to pressure of strata
  • Robert Bradley - I Started Work, December 1952 - Training
  • Robert Bradley - Jobs Done in the 1972, 1974 and 1984 Miners’ Strikes and Overtime Bans
  • Strata Names
  • Surveyor's Job At A Coal Mine
  • Tales of the Unexpected Book
  • Teversal Group of Pits - Plans - Silverhill, (Sutton, Pleasley and Teversal Collieries)
  • Undersea Coalmine Proposed, Cumbria - April 2018
  • Winding Through The Ages
  • Winding Engines
  • Women in Mining
  • Women's Suffrage -The Right of Women To Vote
  • Women in Underground Mining Again - 21st Century
  • Work Diaries
  • World War 1
  • World War 2



Snibston in Leicestershire (Head Gear Only)

Apedale Valley, Website

Bestwood Winding house with artefacts and vertical winding engine (Country park and cafe)

Big Pit in South Wales, Website

Bilsthorpe Museum, Website

Durham Mining Museum, Website

Lady Victoria in Scotland, Website

National Mining Museum Wakefield, Website

Nottinghamshire ex miner’s Museum at Mansfield train station old offices (adjacent to Robin Hood line platform to Worksop)

Pleasley Pit Museum, artefacts and working winding engines (Country park and cafe)

South Derbyshire Mining Preservation Group, Website - The group meets at Gresley Old Hall, Church Gresley, every Tuesday morning (10am - 12pm) and on the first Thursday of each month. Church Gresley, Swadlincote DE11 9PA, UK


A Unique History From My Work Diaries




In 2013, there were only three working collieries left in the UK. In this documentary, retired mining surveyor and mining historian Robert Bradley charts the development of the iconic colliery headstocks which once dominated the skyline of the North Nottinghamshire coalfields.


As an introduction, below is the geological sequence of rocks laid down and it is in the Upper Carboniferous age that coal was formed between 300 and 250 million years ago.


Karen, Simon, Jane, George III, Bob, Gabriel, Jade and Mary
Click Photo for Names - Double Click to Go Back to Photo