1945 - Page 1
NUM Took Over From MFGB
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) took over from the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) on 1st January 1945 with 21 separate Area organisations. Banners, beautifully worked in silk would be made later for all Lodges and paraded at all demonstrations and fêtes etc.
New Coalfield Discovered
A completely new Coalfield had been discovered East and South East of Lincoln during exploration for oil. (see later Vales of Witham and Till).
The Coal Tar By-Products Order 1945 came into force on 5th March. There was increase of ½d per gallon (0.2p).
Valuation of Mines
By 31st March 1945 the valuation of the mines was complete and was the end of the transactions by which Coal Royalties had been transferred from private to public ownership. The valuation totalled £64,559,559.
The average weekly earnings underground workers for the second half of 1945 was £5 13s 10d (£5.69p) compared with £2 18s 3d (£2.91p) in the corresponding period in 1935.
European Coal Organisation
In June 1945 the European Coal Organisation was established in London. The committee came to the conclusion that although we needed to produce more coal it would be undesirable for German Prisoners of War to work in British coal mines. (Maybe the thinking was that they would try to sabotage things, not unlike some of our Prisoners of War did in their mines during the
Second World War 1939-1945.)
‘Have A Go’
At Ireland colliery (Derbyshire, Staveley Coal and Iron Co) in 1945, the popular Radio Quiz show ‘Have a Go’, presented by Wilfred Pickles and his wife Mabel, was recorded in an underground engine house. A piano was taken down the pit for Violet Carson to play the accompanying music. She later became better known on TV as Ena Sharples in the ‘soap’ Coronation Street. Thrice weekly episodes were still being shown on TV in the year 2016.
NH & B Collieries
The New Hucknall Colliery Co and the Blackwell Colliery Co amalgamated on 1st January 1945 and were known as the NH and B Collieries Ltd. Clay Cross Colliery Co purchased Wingfield Manor colliery from the Wingfield Manor Colliery Co.
Collieries Bought Out
Shireoaks, Steetley, Southgate and Whitwell owned by the Shireoaks Colliery Co Ltd were bought by United Steel Companies Ltd (Mining Section) of Yorkshire.
In January 1945 food allowances were still strict. 4oz bacon per person per week, 2oz tea, 8oz sugar, 8oz fats, 3oz cheese, meat to the value 1s 2d (5¾p), 2 pints of milk.
By March the milk ration was increased to 2½ pints. However at the beginning of May there was a reduction in the bacon ration and clothes coupons were reduced to 48.
On 23rd April 1945 blackout restrictions were lifted completely.
The Reid Report
In March 1945 the Minister of Fuel and Power presented to Parliament the Report of the Technical Advisory Committee on Coal Mining which was known as the Reid Report, after its Chairman, Mr Charles C Reid (later Sir Charles Reid). The committee consisted of 7 members, all mining engineers with experience in the management of collieries etc. The recommendations of the Committee was divided into methods of working coal, including mechanisation, underground transport, health and safety including ventilation, lighting and power supply, shaft winding, colliery layouts, machinery maintenance, training for new entrants, education in the form of explanations by management of new methods and further education at suitable venues to offer advancement in management, and labour relations. Also better manriding facilities (by locomotive), and better tunnelling methods. Surface layouts at mines were also advocated with reconstructions to allow double shift winding.
The report would lead to the ‘Ladder Plan’ which would provide part-time education for young men as apprentice craftsmen and surveyors to create qualified Craftsmen, Surveyors, Under-Officials, Undermanagers and Managers.
Price Of Coal Increased
The price of coal was increased on 1st May 1945 by 3s 6d (17½p) a ton.
In April a White Paper on the Coal Charges Account was published, briefly setting out the various payments paid into the Account from the districts. At the time the Account had been subsidised by the Treasury to the extent of £25m owing to increases of costs to the Wages Agreement and further reductions in output proving greater than expected. This ‘overdraft’ was the reason for the increase in the price per ton of coal.
- North Derbyshire contributed 1s (5p) per ton
- Nottinghamshire contributed 1s 7d (8p)
- Leicestershire contributed 3s 7d (18p) whilst
- Yorkshire recovered 6d (2½p) a ton.
War Against Germany Ended
The War against Germany ended on 8th May 1945 and the 8th and 9th May were granted Public holidays to celebrate VE Day (Victory in Europe).
Street parties, like this one at Brinsley Nottinghamshire, were held to celebrate.
Working Through The Celebrations
Miners who had been required to work over the 2-day celebrations had been assured that they would receive an extra £1-a-day grant. However an angry pay row evolved when it appeared that the pit bosses had absorbed the grants into the men’s wages so that they were no better off, as stated by the Nottinghamshire and District Miners’ Federated Union at a meeting in Nottingham.
After the celebrations it was back to the drab realities of life as the Minister of Fuel decreed that there was still a serious fuel shortage and that all outdoor decorative and display lighting was to cease.
War Against Japan Ended
The War against Japan ended on 11th August 1945. Japan finally signed their surrender on 11th September after the dropping of Atom bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima by American bombers. Street parties were held in all the villages and towns to celebrate VJ Day (Victory over Japan).
Mines Short Of Men
The mines were still short of men and of course many men who had left the pits to do war service were killed. Some miners began drifting back to the pits after being demobbed, also POWs (Prisoners of War) were being repatriated. Some servicemen who had been wounded were only offered the poorer paid jobs on the pit top, and of course many others were reluctant to return to the pits.
Throughout the hostilities there had been 11 enemy attacks on Nottingham with one being a serious raid on 8th/9th May 1941.
Some bombs were dropped on Mapperley Park, Sneinton, Carlton Hill and River Trent side districts. The University College Shakespeare Street was damaged. There were 23 attacks on Derby.
The number of air alerts to February 1944 was 223 for Nottingham, 129 for Worksop, 163 East Retford, 168 Eastwood, 271 Newark and 165 at Harworth.
Prisoners Of War
A major Prisoner of War camp for Germans was in Wollaton Park, Nottingham. Another one was at Boughton Camp near Ollerton. One for Italians was in the Nissen huts (later a Technical school), now the site of Morrison’s Supermarket at Sutton Road adjacent to King’s Mill Hospital Sutton-in-Ashfield (originally an American Army Hospital. It was an American GI who gave me my first orange, and did I want some ‘gum chum?’) The Bolsover Ward in the hospital was allocated for injured miners. I remember the Italian prisoners of war some of whom were allocated jobs on the local small farms and some were allowed to wander about on their own to fetch cigarettes etc from Rowlston’s shop on Coxmoor Road at the end of the street where I lived. One patted me on the head with a comment ‘Ah bambino’. They wore grey outfits with a yellow blob on the back of the tunic top – however they had no intention of escaping! I imagine they were too well looked after here.
Following the ending of the hostilities some of these prisoners stayed here and integrated into the society and married local girls and the odd ones found work in the pits. Poles who had joined our forces stayed as well and many were found work down the Midlands pits. I knew several by sight to nod to at Teversal and they were all good workers and respected, generally quiet of course because they could not speak English properly, however their English was far better than our Polish. One of my bosses was Cheslaw Stasiewicz ex RAF who started as a Surveyor's linesman at Annesley. He always seemed speak back to front as we say.
Winston Churchill |
There was a short Conservative Government from May until June 1945 and Winston Churchill continued as Prime Minister, when the Coalition was disbanded, after the War.
A landslide victory elected a Labour Government in 1945 until Oct 1951, and Clement Attlee the Deputy PM in the Coalition Government during the War was elected Prime Minister 1945-1951.
On 22nd May 1945, food rations were cut once again and on 1st September clothing ration cut by 25%.
Pits In A Terrible Condition
Many of the pits were now in a terrible condition and production was falling steadily week by week, through one reason or another, not least absenteeism. Restrictions on steel and equipment were taking its toll. However the War had intervened in many new exploits in the mines and some would be closed through lack of development. The coal stocks had fallen to an all time low and there was a scarcity of certain grades. Throughout the country there had been a drop of domestic consumption of coal. There had been an increase in the use of coke, gas and electricity. The wholesale coal trade organisation was divided into 4 areas and the Midlands area covering Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and others came into effect.
Little Pits Record Output
However as reported in the Daily Express 11th June 1945, ‘the men of the little pits get a record output’. Stanleigh Turner was head of the Moira Coal Co owning 5 mines, officially counted in South Derbyshire, although they are actually in Leicestershire. The total workforce was just under 2,500 men and boys. The British and American machinery had increased the output by 50%, though the miner’s wages had not increased. John B Drinnan, Chief Mining Manager for Moira Coal Co took the visitors underground at Rawdon colliery. At the coalface 3 young men ‘busted’ the coal by means of a compressed air plunger to a depth of 4’ 6” (1.37m) into the coal. A team of 6 men were employed with the operation of the Meco-Moore power-loader in the 7 feet (2.13m) thick seam. One turnover on the 150 yards (137m) long face yielded 500 tons which was sent out by conveyor to the pit bottom. The multi disc cutter loader machine had been used for one year and was due for an overhaul. This one was the only one other than those being used by the Bolsover Co pits in Nottinghamshire where the machine was invented (trials at Rufford and Clipstone).
At Donisthorpe another machine, this time American, a Joy loader was giving extremely good results also. William Unsworth the Agent praised the system which comprised 3 ‘stalls’ being driven parallel in the coal by 3 teams of 2 men. 2 men do the timbering i.e. setting roof supports, 2 men cut the coal some 7 feet (2.13m) at the base of the seam with an electrical coal cutter, the other 2 men follow up with the Joy loader and fill the coal by the gathering arms on the machine with delivers on its short steel conveyor into 3½ ton capacity shuttle cars which are large container lorries with huge tyres and powerful headlights. Each car makes about 15 journeys a day into each of the 3 headings and when full journeys to empty its load onto a conveyor belt delivering to a loading point where the tubs were filled before being hauled to the pit bottom. These teams of 10 men produce about 150 tons of coal a day from the 8 feet (2.44m) thick seam. Annual output per manshift was 389 tons as against the national average of 268 tons a man. The thickness of the seams in the area definitely gives both systems the edge over other Coalfields where the seams are thinner. As will be seen there were several attempts later in thinner seams with the Joy loader system and almost all failed after a time. See Silverhill where the Deep Hard seam was
3’ 3” (1.0m).
At Doe Lea drift mine Heath, (Derbyshire) Dominic Lavin (355) owner and Manager, employed 27 men working in Top Hard and 9 on the surface. The mine was referred to by the locals as ‘Dominics’.
Training And Medicals
From July 1945 The Coal Mining (Training and Medical Examination) Order 1944 came in, where arrangements were made for medical examination of any young person below 18 entering coal mining.
General Election in July: Labour Party returned to power with a majority of 140 over all other parties. Clement Attlee continued as Prime Minister. He commissioned Sir William Beveridge to submit a report on the 5 giants of the period. These were Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.
Minister of Fuel and Power 23rd May –2nd Aug 1945, Gwilym Lloyd George (Con). Emmanuel (Manny) Shinwell (Lab) succeeded from 3rd July 1945-1947. President of Board of Trade, Oliver Lyttleton (Con) 25th May 1945-July 1945, succeeded by Sir Stafford Cripps (Lab), 27th July 1945-1947.
Hempshill Shaft Abandoned
Hempshill shaft (Nottinghamshire) (BA Collieries Ltd) was abandoned in August 1945 and capped. It had a cupola and was an upcast shaft for Babbington. No coal was ever wound at this shaft.