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The Decline Of The Industry
And Nationalisation 1947


1929 - Page 1

Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald


The second Labour Government was returned to power from June 1929 until August 1931 and included 43 mining MPs.

Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald (Labour) 1929-1931.

President of Board of Trade, Will Graham (Lib), 7th June 1929-1931.

Secretary for Mines Ben Turner MP 1929.


Sick Club

A Sick Club was set up in 1913 when members paid 3d (1p) per week and the benefits received were 8s (40p) per week for 12 weeks, 4s (20p) for the next 12 weeks and 2s (10p) for the final 12 weeks. On death, a fixed sum of £3 was paid and £2 to the member’s wife, and £1 for each child.

HM Inspectorate

HM Chief Inspector of Mines Sir Henry Walker was appointed (1929-1938) replacing Thomas Mottram (1919-1929).


Bestwood Pit

At Bestwood (Nottinghamshire) (Bestwood Coal and Iron Co Ltd) on 20th February 1929 there was a shaft accident. The shaft was 13ft 6in (4.1m) diameter and 412 yards (377m) deep to the Top Hard pit bottom. Due to the shaft tubbing leaking and the bitterly cold weather, ice had formed on the shaft sides. A lump of ice fell down the shaft and hit a cage of men coming up at the end of their shift. One man was killed and 5 others were injured, one dying later from his injuries.


On 3rd March 1929 Frank Varley MP for Mansfield died. Charles Brown was elected Labour MP and he was to hold the seat until 1940 when he too died suddenly. Charles was a great friend of my Grandfather Eli White. There must have been some deep relationship and help given by him over the strike period for ever after that as stated before Phoebe Brown his widow received from my Grandma a Sunday dinner sent on a plate come rain, hail, snow or blow or hell and high water. She only lived about half a mile away. Sometimes it became a bind when it was my turn to take it. She kept his ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece and talk to it. As a young lad I used to find it really scary!

Tub Arrestors

During 1929 Cecil Vann a haulage corporal at Silver Hill (Nottinghamshire) (Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd) invented two types of arrestors for runaway tubs. I remember a roadway named Vann’s Level was in the pit bottom area.


From 1929 Pony races used to be held at the collieries within the Bolsover Company during the pit holidays. At that time there were about 300 ponies and horses being worked underground at the 6 pits.

By comparison there were 577 ponies employed underground at the Butterley Co pits.


Maximum manpower at Sherwood (Sherwood Colliery Co) reached 2,200 (1,749 working Top Hard and Dunsil and developing High Hazles).

Clipstone Band

Clipstone colliery Brass band was formed. The Bolsover Co encouraged such pastimes and bands were set up at all their collieries.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1929

  • Ashgate No1 85 yards (78m) and No2 83 yards (76m), (Ashgate Colliery Co Ltd) Blackshale, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (918) Nov 1933
  • Alma 1,2,3 a new North Wingfield Colliery Co re-opened 1929
  • First Waterloo seam was worked at about 70 yards (64m) deep
  • Belfit Hill (Belfit Hill Colliery Co) Wingerworth, Blackshale opened
  • Bolsover (Bolsover Colliery Co) A small area of Deep Hard seam was worked
  • Octavia (Nottinghamshire) (Joseph E Whitchurch), to Piper 31 Feb 1929
  • No5 shaft at Pilsley (Pilsley Colliery Co Ltd) was sunk.

Blidworth Colliery Re-Opened

Blidworth Colliery

Blidworth (Newstead No2) (Nottinghamshire) (Newstead Colliery Co) had closed due to bad geology in Aug 1928 but was re-opened again in October 1929 when renewed efforts were made and more favourable working techniques were employed. Faulting had been encountered almost immediately on opening up the Top Hard seam which had been reached at a much deeper level than at first predicted. Manpower slumped to a total of 84 from 1,704 previously. Men had travelled to the new mine with their families from all parts of the country in the hope of a better life and for a time these hopes seemed dashed by the decision but they returned to the new model village created for them as men were set on again as development of the seam progressed. The houses had been boarded up in the meantime and obviously the Newstead Colliery Co directors were worried about the situation and thereby more than likely insisted that a further attempt at working the pit must be done. The Manager Mr Stanier was keen to keep his position. His son Neville was born at the Red House and was passionate about mining like myself. We became firm friends and I visited him frequently at his home at Little Stretton near Burton on Trent sometimes along with another common friend Will Richards of Blidworth until Neville died aged 85 in July 2012. Will died January 2013 aged almost 96, He worked on the Washery plant at Blidworth and he was quite an orator and writer of newspaper articles also having 7 or 8 books published. He was always a pain in the butt for the NUM taking them to task for the slightest thing. Both Will and I were founder members of the Blidworth and District Historical and Heritage Society. I miss them both very much as we had so much in common,

Steel Props

Steel props were introduced at Bolsover, Grassmoor, Kirkby, Langwith and Warsop.

First Pithead Baths in Derbyshire

Ben Turner, Minister of Mines opened the first pithead baths in Derbyshire on 7th December 1929 at Grassmoor (Grassmoor Co Ltd). At Annesley (New Hucknall Colliery Co) the men were balloted and voted against the building of such pithead baths.

Notices Served on Men

The acting Manager Tom Maddock served notices on 200 men at Annesley on 9th July 1929 for refusing to join the Nottinghamshire and District Industrial Union.

Firbeck Main

Manpower at Firbeck Main (Nottinghamshire) Firbeck Main Collieries Ltd) reached 2,150 underground and 380 on the surface. Only one seam, the Top Hard would be worked.

Boring By Hand

The photo shows 2 men boring the ripping lip by hand, obviously a very laborious task. The use of compressed air for boring machines was known but pipework to the working places from a compressor were impracticable at the time (to the right) and boring by electricity was not yet feasible, particularly in hard strata.

Rescue Station

The Central Rescue Station to which the mine was affiliated was North Midland Coal Owners Rescue Station. 4 fully trained rescue men were maintained at the colliery.

Types Of Lamps In Use

boring the ripping lip
2 men boring the ripping lip by hand

A further return form was required to be sent to the Mines Inspector for end of June 1929, this time including the number and type of lamps in use.

At Bilsthorpe 2 Hailwood O1BAS fastened by lead rivet and 16 O1Ba and 40 O1B type single gauze flame safety lamps made by Hailwood and Ackroyd Ltd of Leeds fastened by magnet and all using Colza oil were in use. Also there were 24 lead riveted, lead acid 6 volts shaft R2 type hand lamps in use supplied by Oldham and Son of Manchester. 787 standard Ceag Ltd of Barnsley battery hand lamps at 2 volts, 9 BE1 type, 12 Inspection lamps and 4 BE3 type all magnetically locked.

There were 4 haulage motors at work (total 100 hp) and 22 conveyors (total 293 hp) and one 35hp pump.

On the surface a Simon Carve Baum type washery and screening plant were in use with 12 motors (total 500 hp) plus one 10 hp motor. There were 19 other miscellaneous motors totalling 1,014 hp.

Compressed air for boring
Compressed air for boring

The HMI form likewise had to be signed by the Manager and Undermanager of the mine and was to include their certificate numbers.

In 1930 the lamps in use had risen to 22 O1BA, 60 O1B Oldham types, 977 hand held Ceag, 18 inspection and 40 pillarless lamps.

No pithead baths. No horses used underground.

Another form required the number of coal cutting machines, pneumatic picks and conveyors in use.

There were no coal cutters in 1929 but 61 light pneumatic picks in use for an output of 38,458 tons, there were 9 electrically driven face conveyors, 3 gate end conveyors and 3 gate end loaders for an output of 384,586 tons of Top Hard household and steam coal.

For 1930 the number of haulages had risen to 7, conveyors and loaders to 25. There was to be 102 bath cubicles and 2,016 lockers in the pithead baths being built.

Amalgamation Of Pits

There was an amalgamation of 233 pits employing 219,760 men and boys.

Broxtowe and Nuthall Wood Collieries Closed

Broxtowe and Nuthall Wood pit (Nottinghamshire) was not worked in 1929. The pit was kept open as a pumping pit to protect Babbington. The Babbington Coal Co sank Broxtowe in 1899.
Seams worked Top Hard, Deep Hard seam was worked also.
Nuthall Wood
was merged with Broxtowe in 1917 and in 1919 Broxtowe was absorbed under Babbington (Cinderhill No1)

  • 1899: 128 Top Hard, 43 s/f
  • 1900: 148 TH, 48 s/f
  • 1901: 133 TH. 55 s/f
  • 1902: 137 TH, 55 s/f
  • 1903: 112 Top Hard, 30 Deep Hard, 56 s/f
  • 1904: 123 TH, 48 s/f
  • 1905: 104 TH, 47 s/f
  • 1906: 124 TH, 47 s/f
  • 1907: 136 TH, Deep Hard, 59 s/f
  • 1908: 134 TH, DH, 53 s/f
  • 1909: 120 TH, DH, 54 s/f
  • 1910: 115 TH, DH, 60 s/f app
  • 1911: 109 TH, DH, 68 s/f
  • 1912: 108 TH, DH, 70 s/f
  • 1913: 94 TH, DH, 65 s/f
  • 1914: 94 TH, DH, 39 s/f
  • 1915: 88 TH, DH, 43 s/f
  • 1916: 93 TH, DH, 44 s/f
  • 1917: inc Nuthall Wood: 9 TH, DH, 10 s/f
  • 1918: 9 TH, DH, 7 s/f
  • 1919: inc with Babbington (Cinderhill No1) to 1929.

Agents were George C Fowler (817) to 1920 and Thomas A Lawton (1161) afterwards.

Managers at Broxtowe: W Hunt (1686) 1899-1903; John Poxon (996) 1903-1929.

Undermanagers: W Clements 1899-1921; G Housley 1922-1928.

Surveyors:... John Walters -1927; Lewis Harold Spencer (517) for the company 1927-1946.

Largest Piece of Coal Mined

This huge piece of coal is probably the largest whole piece ever mined. It is not known how they were able to extricate it and raise it up the shaft...but it’s big!

The Unconcealed and Concealed Coalfield

The plan below shows the numerous pits sunk to the west in the unconcealed Coalfield mainly in Derbyshire and the later more modern collieries sunk to the east in the concealed Coalfield, almost all in Nottinghamshire. Bilsthorpe and Ollerton are just off the plan to the east beyond Rufford.

Unconcealed Coalfield mainly in Derbyshire


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Pit Terminology - Glossary