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The Decline Of The Industry
And Nationalisation 1947


1926 - Page 3

Granny Reared

I was ‘Granny reared’, but of course whilst I was young, late 1930s and during the War 1939-1945 and up to me going to Grammar School and starting work I had no idea of the hardships that my Grandma and Grandad must of encountered and endured, but the strike periods must have been far worse and horrendous! I never went hungry and I remember my Grandma doing bartering amongst the neighbours, exchanging clothes, my old toys, garden produce and the like for other foodstuffs.

Now and then we had chicks from the Cattle market at 1s 0d (5p) a dozen so we kept hens and sometimes ducks and rabbits and had the occasional piece of pork from an illegally slaughtered pig in our large coalhouse at the bottom of the garden.

Drift Back To Work

From 22nd August to 24th September 1926 the drift back to work in Nottinghamshire increased from 600 to 17,678. Sometime in October 1926, George Spencer MP for Broxtowe, an ex-miner, and former check weighman at New Hucknall (New Hucknall Colliery Co), formed a non-political breakaway union to the Miners Union, with the connivance of the coal owners.

New Union

George Spencer MP
George A Spencer MP

It was called the Nottinghamshire and District Miners Industrial Union with registered offices at 32 Clumber Street, Nottingham. President was Ben Smith, Vice President William Evans, Agent and Financial Secretary George A Spencer MP (photo), General Secretary Richard Gascoyne and Treasurer John George Hancock.

Spencer urged the men to return to work. By November 44,000 had returned. As they had feared, strike leaders suddenly found themselves without a job as the mine owners exacted a degree of revenge for the loss of money and the disruption that the strike had caused. Photo shows men at Brinsley colliery during the strike.

The Spencer Union

The Spencer Union or ‘Spencerism’ was to last until 1937. Arthur J Cook toured the county to try to prevent the majority of the men returning to work. It is still talked about today.

During the drift back to work, on 26th July there were 250 men at work at Markham No2, 100 men at Oxcroft, and 130 men at the smaller mines in the district. The drift back continued at Holmewood and Shirland

Notification To Be Given Before Sinking A Bore Hole Or Shaft

The Mining Industry Act 1926 regarding working facilities, amended the 1923 Act to some degree, but again basically it would mean that before a borehole or a shaft was sunk which was to be deeper than 100 feet (30m), notice in writing was to be given by the person, to the Committee of the Privy Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of his intention to do so and a journal or log of the strata and specimens of strata passed through were to be kept, and preserved, until an officer appointed by the Crown had been and examined them. It was requested that the Committee was to treat the information as confidential and the owner, agent or manager of the site was to allow free access at all reasonable times to an officer of the Committee to any underground working.

Clay Cross Flooded

Clay Cross No4 pit (Derbyshire) (Clay Cross Co) was flooded following the stoppage (and by 1929 had been abandoned).

Checkweighman And Agent For Union

A checkweighman was appointed at Tibshelf (Derbyshire) during the strike. However there was some agitation and he became an Agent for Spencers union in an effort to protect his job. The Babbington Coal Co refused the Derbyshire Miners Association any facilities at the pits.

Pinxton Green Shaft

At Green shaft (Derbyshire) (Pinxton Collieries Ltd) the electric pump installed in 1922-1923 had begun to break down continually so a new method of removing the water was examined that would be less expensive. A roadway in the Waterloo seam from neighbouring Langton ran approximately beneath the shaft that was sunk to the Top Hard seam. A scheme to construct a chamber 18 feet (5.49m) diameter at this level was designed and bricked in by means of a masonry dam to withstand a pressure of 250lb/sq inch. A borehole by the rotary system and steel shot method was drilled in 55 days from the Green shaft to the chamber below. The water collected at the shaft was allowed to run down the installed 8” (0.20m) diameter pipes and by gravity to Langton pit bottom where it was firstly pumped up from the Waterloo horizon to the Top Hard pit bottom and then to the surface.

Digby Men

Digby colliery (Nottinghamshire) (Digby Colliery Co) men did not restart work until 6th October 1926. 70% of the men had restarted work and the others begged George Spencer MP (Lab) and NUM Official to get their jobs back. For this he was expelled from the union and he formed the breakaway union the Nottinghamshire and District Industrial Union.

Export Orders Lost And Imports Began

Many export orders were lost, never to be retrieved. Imports of coal from foreign countries began. If only the strike had never happened maybe many of the export orders could have been saved, but what country was going to rely on an unstable mining industry. They in turn turned to other countries for their coal and also to other forms of power.

George Woodcock, Economist and Trade union Secretary stated that ‘half a loaf was better than none’. Collective agreement was redundant and the mine owners were as much the victims as the miners.

End of Miner's Strike

The miners had returned to work – they had won a shift that was half an hour longer for less money. And of course the money that they had lost whilst being on strike would never be recovered. Later the effects of the strike would show when they were told to listen for the colliery blower, signalling whether or not there was any work. One long blast instead of 2 short blasts meant there was no work next day. As will be seen in the 1930s eventually there was only need for one shift per day so half the men were sacked.

Ships Using Oil Instead Of Coal

The ships were now running on oil, an easier fuel to load, and a lower workforce was needed. Of course oil was cheap at the time.

Swanwick Collieries

RCA Palmer-Morewood took over the running of Swanwick pits from RCAP Morewood.

Company Name Changed

Shipley Colliery Company named changed to Shipley Collieries Ltd in 1926.

Wages Agreement For Some But Not All

A wages agreement between Derbyshire colliery owners and the workmen (excluding South Derbyshire) was signed for 29th November 1926. A similar agreement was signed for Nottinghamshire collieries on the same day.

Berry Hill Hall

Berry Hill Hall (built by the Bielby family from Nottingham in the 1700s) and sold by William Hollins of Pleasley Mill in the 1920s, became a Miners’ Rehabilitation Hospital. The grounds were used for many years to host the local Miners Gala.

Companies To Provide Pit Head Baths

Some Collieries voted against building the baths

The Mining Industry Act 1926 ensured that the colliery companies were to provide pithead baths by levying 1d (less than ½p) a ton of output and a levy of 1s (5p) on every £1 of royalties. Arthur J Cook, elected to the MFGB as General Secretary in 1924, had battled for the deal. However it will be seen that at some pits a vote was carried against the building of such, I would imagine that there was great mistrust from the miners, possibly wondering how much it was going to cost them!
Henry Eustace Mitton
Henry Eustace Mitton
Chief Surveyor's 60 Years Service

Chief Surveyor The Chief Surveyor for Butterley Co, John Holbrook, aged 76, was honoured with a dinner party by the Company for 60 Years Service, and was invited by them to visit Palestine for a holiday, before returning to work!

Eustace Mitton

Henry Eustace Mitton, Chief Mining Engineer was appointed as General Manager for Butterley Co. He had introduced the Rheolaveur washery system from France that proved to be popular throughout the UK. Eustace Mitton told members of the Nottinghamshire Mining Students Association that disgraceful housing conditions, and an utter lack of interest in their employees’ welfare, was a discredit to many owners of large commercial undertakings… happily however in recent years, an entirely different state of affairs had been brought about in the mining world. The company sent Mitton to the USA for a rest, having been in charge of the difficult sinking at Ollerton!

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1926

  • Base Green (BN Bradley) Gleadless
  • Birchwood Vale (Birch Vale Colliery Co) Ford Lane, Eckington, adit finished Aug 1926, started coaling later in 1926, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (918)
  • Bond Lane (Butterley Co Ltd) Heage, sinking
  • Bramley Hill (BR Mills) Eckington
  • Bramley Moor strike workings
  • Coppice a new shaft was sunk 1925/26 to the Kilburn seam and No2 shaft was deepened (Shipley Collieries Ltd)
  • Deggs Main (CN Haslam) Swanwick
  • Harry Crofts (Shire Oaks No3) (Shireoaks Colliery Co. Sinking was completed to the Dunsil seam c1482 feet (451.75m) co-ordinates E452860 N381980
  • Hague (Disley Paper Mill Co Ltd) New Mills day eyes from outcrop, July 1926, Surveyor John Mort (187)
  • Highfields reopened by CW Waller, Deep Hard 5’ 6” (1.68m)
  • Lady Pit or Brownhill (R Dawson), New Mills
  • Lark Hill (GS Aitken) New Mills
  • Moorfields (Mrs Hulme) Calow
  • Mount Pleasant (Alfred Tagg) Riddings
  • Pingot Clough New Mills
  • Pond Farm (P Botham) Newbold, sinking
  • Quarry Farm (Draycott and Clarke) Newbold, sinking
  • Thornsett Brows or Aspenshaw day eyes (James Morton), 10th July, 3 adits, coal 3’ 4” (1.01m), dip 1in7 NE, Surveyor John Mort (187)
  • Wethercotes (S Newton) Yard, July, surrounded by old workings from Birch Vale or Grub colliery.

Sinking Suspended

The sinking of Bolsover No3 shaft was suspended in November 1926 at 652 yards (596m). The Bolsover Co miners had gone back to work in October on a 7½ hour day.

Blidworth (Newstead No2)

The Top Hard seam was reached on 13th January 1926 at Blidworth, Newstead No2 (Nottinghamshire) (Newstead Colliery Co) after a difficult sinking. The seam at 3’ 7½” (1.1m) was thinner and much deeper than anticipated at 721 yards (659m), some 167 yards (153m) deeper than Rufford colliery, which was close by. Evans sinking pumps were used through the faulted water-bearing strata in preference to the François cementation process used at Ollerton and up to 4,000 gallons of water per minute had to be dealt with. The headgear stood at 75 feet 3 inches (23m) high. 250 of the planned 1,200 houses in the model village had already been built.

The men at Blidworth were allowed to carry on working during the strike. The following details show the number of men at work. March 1926: 183 men on books; April: 214; May: 217; June: 250 men, 2,001 tons produced; July: 292 men, 2,815 tons, Aug: 370 men, 4,814 tons; Sept: 450 men, 7,846 tons; Oct: 557 men, 11,547 tons; Nov: 650 men, 13,991 tons; Dec 1926: 733 men, 13,752 tons.

As stated before Blidworth along with Clipstone and Ollerton (after one month out) were the only pits in the country to carry on working as all three were developing pit bottom roadways. The union were ensuring that the men would have a job after the strike was over.

Strike Workings On Sidings

At Blackwell B Winning sidings Strike workings – heads from end of sidings in Top Hard, finished Sep 1926.

Sherwood Swimming Baths Opened

The swimming baths adjacent to Sherwood colliery (Nottinghamshire) pithead baths was opened.

Overwind At Annesley

There was an overwinding accident at Annesley (Nottinghamshire) (New Hucknall Colliery Co) and 13 men were injured.

Thoresby Sinking

Sinking continued at Thoresby (Bolsover Colliery Co) at the edge of Sherwood Forest and Edwinstowe.

Bonds Main And Calow Main Footrills

Bonds Main (Derbyshire) (Staveley Coal and Iron Co) made a connection with Calow Main Footrills and the two pits were amalgamated. Blackshale section coal 2’ 0” (0.61m), dirt 10” (0.25m), Tinkers 7” (0.18m), dirt 2” (0.05m), coal 1’ 7” (0.48m). Chapmans Footrills lay near to Calow.

Maximum Manpower

The Chairman of the Newstead Colliery Co was Charles Markham, the Managing Director W Humble, the consulting engineer H Barnes and the Manager Francis Stanier (1609). The maximum number of men at Newstead (Nottinghamshire) (Newstead Colliery Co) reached 1,913 (1,427 working Top Hard) and at Warsop Main (Nottinghamshire) (Staveley Coal and Iron Co) reached 3,237 (537 surface men and 2,700 working Top Hard).

Collieries Closed in 1926

  • Ballarat New (G Dunlop) Whittington, Tupton, some pillar working during the strike stoppage, abandoned 8 Nov 1926 Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (218)
  • Birchwood (W Seaton) Silkstone 3, worked by William Ibbotson from May
  • Blackfordby Clay Mine (TG Green and Coy) Leicestershire, Bottom seam, roof coal 9” (0.23m), 3’ 0” (0.91m) coal gotten, bottle clay 2’ 6” (0.76m) gotten, dip 1in4, adit and 2 shafts app 21 feet (6.5m), Surveyor George J German
  • Brockwell Clay and Coal mine, (Brockwell Clay and Coal Co) Tupton worked up to June 1922, connected to Ashgate colliery 28 yards and 30 yards deep shafts
  • Brockwell Lane (Brockwell Clay and Coal Co) Chesterfield
  • Calow Main Footrills, Blackshale, 11 Nov 1926, Mr Chapman’s workings on outcrop to South and Duckmanton Tunnel
  • Church Gresley (Moira Colliery Co Ltd), Stanhope seam, coal 2’ 4½” (0.72m), parting 6” (0.1m), coal 2’ 2” (0.66m), dirt parting increasing, 2 Feb 1926 Manager AE Bramley, Surveyor EW Eaton (913) 21 Dec 1912
  • Cutthorpe (Henry Booker and Sons), Chesterfield, Ashgate
  • Do Well (Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd), Staveley, Blackshale abandoned, Manager: H Kirk (1511)
    (Manpower 1924: 265 u/g, 204 s/f, 1925: 30 u/g 60 s/f, abandoned)
  • New Dunston (EW Fawcett) Deep Soft, abandoned 31st Dec 1926, Herbert G Davies (Cert Surveyor)
  • Gaunts, (Gaunt?) Piper seam
  • Hewitts (G Hewitt) Stapleford, Blackshale standing since 21st Dec
  • Hill (Bagshawe and Mills), Chinley, 2 separate Day eyes to outcrop and old ancient workings, Yard mine, coal 1’ 0” (0.30m) parting, coal 2’ 9” (0.84m), 10 u/g / 2 s/f, 18 Dec 1926, Surveyor John Mort (187)
  • Holbrook No4 (J and G Wells Ltd), Eckington, Parkgate, tops 2’ 2” (0.66m), dirt 10” (0.25m), bottoms 1’ 7” (0.48m), 6/4 abandoned 30 Aug 1926, (3 shafts), met old works and broken coal, Surveyor William Greensmith (931) 30 Aug 1926
  • Horrox (Furnace Hill and Renishaw Park Collieries Ltd), Barlborough, Clowne, nil/16 abandoned 11th Dec,
    Manager: Fred Kaye (874)
  • Langton No7 and No9 (Pinxton Collieries Ltd) Deep Soft abandoned, Manager: John Mullins (1552), Undermanager: W Smith (2nd); Lilystreet (Morewood)
  • Mickley New (GH Booker) re-opened in 1925, Mickley Thin coal, closed 24 Jan 1926, JR Felton
  • Moor Edge (Pickford, Holland and Co) standing
  • New Turnoak (New Turnoak Colliery Co Ltd), Birdholme, Potters, 30 Apr 1926, Surveyor Hubert Blackshaw (780),
  • Quarry pit Adit Deep Hard or Potters, 44/15, unprofitable, water, bad roof and bad trade, May,
    Manager: WT Hawkins (730) Surveyor: Hubert Blackshaw (780 Service Cert)
  • Salterwood and Ryefield New Winnings (TW Ward Ltd, Denby Iron and Coal Co Ltd), Denby, Low Main 96 yards (88m) and Piper 59 yards (54m), roadway also in Hospital seam, 30 Nov 1926, Manager W Beckett (3478), Undermanager: Robert Aldred (2nd)
  • Shipley No1 was closed in May (600 men) (Shipley Colliery Co)
  • Sloads Farm (Rhodes Bros) Dronfield Woodhouse, Ashgate clod roof, coal 1’ 1” (0.33m), muck 6” (0.15m), coal 1’ 6” (0.46m), clay floor, 12 u/g / 9 s/f abandoned May, Manager Wilfred Rhodes (457), Surveyor John Rhodes ME
  • Smalley Footrill or drift (Henry Woolley& Co) near Bell Inn, Low Main, dip 1in5½, closed due to strike, one adit and 6 shafts around 18 feet (5.5m)
  • Spital Lane (E Waller) Chesterfield, Blackshale abandoned 20th Nov
  • Stanley drift (Mapperley Colliery Co Ltd) adit and shaft, Low Main 3’ 6” (1.07m), Sep, small working opened for boiler fuel during strike, Surveyor WH Gilchrist (49)
  • Stubben Edge Coal (Pickford, Holland and Co) Ashover, Alton 4’ 4” (1.32m) and floor 8” (0.20m) black soft dirt, adit and 33 feet (10m) shaft and 15 feet (4.5m) shaft, full dip 1in3, met old works, not worked since July 1922, abandoned 4 Dec 1926, Surveyors Coke Turner and Co and WA Baxter (792) for Coke Turner and Co
  • Tinkersick (Hall Bros), Brimington, Deep Hard, up to Sep 1926, 23 u/g / 5 s/f, adit and air shaft, closed 27 Nov 1926, Surveyor Hubert Blackshaw (780)
  • Trowell Moor (The Cossall Colliery Co Ltd) Kilburn abandoned 5 Feb 1926, Surveyor Frank A Taylor
  • Turnoak New (see above)
  • Walton formerly New Riber (Walton Colliery Co per GN Longbotham), Piper, top coal 1’ 10” (0.56m), dirt 1’ 1” (0.33m), top Duns 2” (0.05m), dirt 3” (0.08m), coal 1½” (0.01m), dirt 1½” (0.01m), coal 7½” (0.19m), dirt 2” (0.08m), coal 10” (0.25m), dirt 1” (0.02m), coal 6” (0.15m), dirt 1” (0.02m), coal 5” (0.13m), dirt 1” (0.02m), coal 1’ 2” (0.36m), clay, some parts only 1’ 10” (0.56m) taken, one old shaft filled up, one shaft 33 yards (30m) deep, unprofitable, 27 Apr 1926, some workings in 1900 met old works of 1890, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (854). (22).

At Langton (Pinxton Collieries Ltd) the Deep Soft seam was abandoned; Granville No1 and No2 Main or Over coal abandoned 30 Apr 1926, Surveyor Harold S Shackleton, several old shafts from Old Granville.

Fatal Accidents 1926

  • Alfreton, William H Simmonds (56) fall of roof 28 Jan 1926
  • Shipley, John West (50) run over by tubs ? Nov 1925, died 13 Feb 1926
  • West Hallam, John Thomas Davis (31) fall of ground on 14 Jan 1926, died 15 Jan 1926
  • West Hallam, John White (54) fall of roof 19 Jan 1926, died 23 Jan 1926
  • Woodside, Thomas Doar (40) caught in machinery 10 Nov 1926.
  • Church Gresley 2 miners died as a result of blackdamp gas, causing the Main seam to be closed for some years.
  • Basford area, John Henry Ross (16) fall of roof whilst outcropping coal 2 Sep 1926.


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Pit Terminology - Glossary