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The Decline Of The Industry
And Nationalisation 1947


1944 - Page 2

Derbyshire Strike

In March 1944 there was a County strike in Derbyshire lasting 6 days, over pay? The Government monitored production, but let districts dictate the industry.


During the 52 weeks ending March 1944 there were 177 major and fatal accidents in North Derbyshire, 36 in South Derbyshire and 177 in Nottinghamshire.  

War Bonuses And Income Tax

War bonuses were paid periodically. Pay as you earn (PAYE) income tax was introduced from 6th April 1944.

National Wages Agreement

A National Wages Agreement from 20th April 1944 when there was a consolidation of wages. The actual rates of pay up to 1944 depended upon the basic rate of pay for the job. A percentage addition to the basic pay rate varied every month or 3 monthly as laid down by the various districts. The method of fixing the basic rates of pay was different for those on piecework and those paid by time. For Nottinghamshire it was 87%, North Derbyshire 4.61%, South Derbyshire 74.63% and Leicestershire 85.37%. No overtime was paid before 1944.

The 1936 flat rate and the district percentage were merged to give a consolidated wage plus 2s 8d (13¼p) flat rate. For day-wage men the percentage was wiped out. Piece-rate workers retained the 1911 basis rate but the percentage rate was increased to 164.1166%. All skilled workers received one shilling (5p) per shift increase. Many day-wage men also received the one-shilling (5p) increase for special jobs.

There was also a guarantee that for 5 years the wage would not fall below the April 1944 rate.

Wages at 14 years was 38s 6d (£1.92½) per week underground and 31s 6d (£1.57½) on the surface and at 20 years of age, 80s (£4) per week and 70s (£3.50) surface.

The 'Skilled Shilling'

The ‘skilled shilling’ (5p) was introduced for craftsmen and certain other specified personnel. This was over and above the normal rate for a day’s pay. Men entitled to the special bonus included underground Fitters, Electricians and Bricklayers. On the surface there were many more including Blacksmiths, Wheelwrights, Joiners, Sawyers, Tub and tram repairers, Shoeingsmiths, Wagonwrights, Electricians, Saddlers, Boilersmiths, Turners and Fitters, Clip repairers, Painters, Moulders, Plumbers, Welders and burners and Bricklayers. The men above entitled to the 1s 0d (5p) increase received a flat rate advance of 2s 6d (12½p) following the Greene award.

In Nottinghamshire, Fillers and Chargemen, Packers and Timber Drawers and Chargemen, Rippers and Chargemen, Coal Cuttermen and Chargemen, Borers and Chargemen, Conveyor Shifters and Chargemen, Repairers, Timbermen, Stonemen, Shaftsmen, Onsetters, Haulage Enginemen, Ropemen – splicers only, Haulage Corporals and Headmen at Loader ends, Head Roadlayers, Belt maintenance men, Pump men, Winding Engine men, Banksmen, Boiler men, Loco Engine Drivers, Shunters, Lorry Drivers on repairs, Lamp Chargemen, Cardox operators, Electric Generator Enginemen, Air Compressor and Fan Enginemen, Head Platelayers, Chargemen on Washery Plants etc, Surface Pumpmen, Cutter Pick Sharpeners, Men on dirt tip working in the open, Screen Foremen, Men in charge of First Aid Rooms, Wagon Lowerers, Telephone and signal maintenance men, Blacksmiths’ Strikers, Underground Joiners, Yard Foremen, Horsekeepers, Signal Box Attendants, Motor Mechanics, Underground Surveyor’s Linesmen, Arch Girder Re-shaping Chargemen.

Similarly in North Derbyshire, with exceptions such as Second Chargemen for Timbermen, Stonemen, Repairers, Runners on and Runners off at shaft, Men engaged in clipping on and knocking off. On the surface, Loco Crane Drivers, Belt and Screen Enginemen, Men in charge of Flotation Plants or similar.

However in South Derbyshire Men with Base rates of 6s 6d (32½p) to 7s 11d (39¾p) inclusive. Underground: Skilled Shaftsmen, Onsetters, Rope Splicers,. Surface: Winding Enginemen, Banksmen, Boiler and Stokers, Loco Drivers, Lamp Chargemen, Power House men, Foremen Platelayers.

In Leicestershire Day wage Piece-workers Chargemen, Repairers, Timbermen, Stonemen, Rippers – Chargemen only, Shaftsmen, Onsetters in charge, Coal Cuttermen Chargemen, Rope Splicers, Hauliers, Road Layers, Belt Repairers, Packers, Borers, Winding Enginemen, Banksmen, Boilermen and Stokers Chargemen, Loco Engine Drivers, Lorry Drivers doing repairs, Lamp Chargemen, Electric Generator Enginemen, Deputies and Shotfirers.

Overtime Payments

The 5th Porter award brought in ‘overtime payments’ for weekend work and overtime at the rate of double and one and one third rates the normal rates respectively. Weekend work was to be all work at the start of Saturday afternoon shift ending with the start of the Sunday afternoon shift. Work during the 6 Bank holidays. In the case of Piece-workers the extra remuneration is to be based on the actual gross earnings etc.


Harold Neal aged 46 was elected Labour MP for Clay Cross in April 1944. He replaced George Ridley who had died. Harold had begun work at Plumptre pit near Brinsley at 13 years of age. He moved on to Moorgreen (Barber, Walker and Co) where he became President of the Branch of the Nottinghamshire Miners Association at 20 years of age. He was later Checkweighman at Woodside and Vice President of the Derbyshire Miners Association before moving to Parliament.

Knowing me for many years, as he lived next door to my Aunt and Uncle at Cromford Road, Aldercar, Langley Mill, where I used to visit quite often, he furnished me with a character reference on House of Commons-headed note-paper which assisted me in obtaining a staff position with the NCB.

Those days one had to present a character reference as part of an appointment for a Surveyor.

Brave Man

On April 18th 1944 there was a weight drop at the coalface at Pilsley colliery (Derbyshire) at 4.30am. A miner E Vickers was using a compressed air cutting machine when a band of rock or flamper above the coalface broke and lowered the roof by about 8” (0.20m) and also a bar that was above his head, and pinned Vicker’s head against the conveyor pan side. Frank Nix and some other men went to his aid. Nix noted that all the wooden props within the vicinity of Vickers were broken so he sent the other men to fetch some new ones.

Nix carried on working alone and by setting broken timber made his way to the trapped miner, however a fall of roof was in his way.

This he cleared and by breaking the ‘flamper’ with a hammer and sawing off the end of a wooden bar he was able to release Vickers.

The operation took about 2 hours and for all that time Frank Nix was under broken roof and working in a height of about 15 inches (0.38m). He was a very brave man, and for his efforts he was awarded the Edward Medal, (instigated in 1907 for miners who endangered their own lives for others). The Edward Medal was changed to the George Cross later in 1971.

USA Lease And Lend

Following the USA Lease Lend agreement towards the end of the War Ireland colliery was quick to introduce US manufactured track mounted arc shearers with gathering arm loaders with American shuttle cars and conveyors. A three-shift system was introduced and with the headings advancing around 100 yards (91m) per week, some 27 men with three officials were able to produce around 4,000 tons of coal a week. The system would continue until the early 1950s.

Cyclic Mining

At Clipstone another Meco-Moore cutter loader was introduced in June. The cyclic system developed at Rufford (Nottinghamshire) had 2 horizontal cutting jibs, one at the base and one halfway up the seam and a vertical back jib and a small cross conveyor that swept the coal onto the face conveyor as the machine cut a pass of 6 feet (1.83m) along the face.


The 1st Waterloo seam was abandoned at Shirebrook (Derbyshire).

The School Leaving Age Was Raised To 15 In 1944

The school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1944.

Holiday Pay

The new national holiday pay was for one week, £5 5s 0d (£5.25) at age 21 and above; £4 4s 0d (£4.20) at 18 to 20 years and £3 3s 0d (£3.15) for under 18s.

Rope Hauled Manrider
Rope Hauled Manrider

HM Inspectorate

WB Brown took over from George Cook (promoted to Deputy Chief Inspector) as Divisional Mines Inspector to 1958. George Hoyle continued as an Inspector until 1950.

Coal At Any Price

Towards the end of the War many pits were in very poor condition and the workforce was exhausted. A particular district underground at Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) was abandoned and the number of ‘timber draggers’ was greatly reduced. One of my predecessors, the Surveyor Jesse Price, wrote in the note book on the final survey of Top Hard 7s district LH Airway Gate on the North side of the pit where umpteen settings with the dial had been made due to conditions - ‘this gate is neither fit for man nor beast’. Obviously there were no rails in the gates for transporting materials to the face and these were physically dragged there on hands and knees. Another district at the pit was 3s district on the East side where he made a similar remark on the final survey of the panel – 3s RH Airway Gate – ‘a rough passage’.
‘It was coal at any price’.

However on the brighter side a rope hauled manrider was introduced to the East side workings and transported men some 2,400 yards (2,195m) inbye at the beginning of the shift and outbye at the end of the shift. One of the first underground boreholes was drilled up and down in this district for exploration of other seams. Those days coring 5 feet (1.52m) a day was good and not uncommon. The Surveyor was responsible for logging the core and noting and identifying and correlating the various rocks and coal seam thicknesses at that time.

Technical Advisory Committee

In September 1944 the Government set up a Technical Advisory Committee on coal mining under the chairmanship of Charles C Reid ‘to examine the present techniques of coal production from coal face to wagon and to advise on what technical changes were necessary in order to bring the industry to a state of full technical efficiency’.

Home Guard Stood Down

Blackout restrictions were lifted from 11th November 1944 and the Home Guard was stood down.

NUM Formed

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was formed in November 1944 from the amalgamation of all 36 County unions in the country. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire had Branches of the new NUM.


First aid teams were now allowed to administer morphine to injured miners down the pit thereby saving many lives as it could take hours sometimes to release a trapped man and transport him outbye to the pit bottom. Although a very arduous task there was never any lack of volunteers to carry an injured man out of the pit.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1944

  • Hartshay (Butterley Co), Ripley, became a Training Centre, with a gallery in the Dunsil seam
  • Merry Lees drift (Leicestershire) (Desford Coal Co Ltd) developing
  • Oxcroft No5 drifts were restarted after being suspended in 1939 and connections were made underground to Nos 1 and No3 collieries (Oxcroft Colliery Co Ltd).
  • Woodside No1 (Shipley Collieries Ltd), Shipley, sinking a drift mine, (Derbyshire) . (4)

Pumping began at Pilsley Nos 1 and 2 (Pilsley Colliery Co Ltd).

Collieries Closed in 1944

  • Amber (Edwin Glossop), Pentrich, Low Main 4’ 1” (1.24m), dip 1in4½, adit, air pit 15 ft (4.5m), excessively faulty ground, resulting in continual working losses, Stanley Waller, 9/3 abandoned 2 Apr 1944, Surveyor: HL Jackson (502)
  • Bramley Hall (J Criddle) Marsh Lane, off Ford Lane, Silkstone Surveyor William D Marriott (918) Jan 1944 and Surveyor RS Armstrong (890) 1 Aug 1944, abandoned June, Day eye and shaft 23’ 6” (7.2m) deep, some workings in 1935 put on plan from information given
  • New Horsely Kilburn colliery (Messrs Pickbourne and Hawkins) Kilburn abandoned 5/1944, 4 adits, 2 scouring through old workings, Surveyor Herbert Leslie Jackson (502), plan deposited 1947




Page 3

Pit Terminology - Glossary