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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1953    1    2    3 

1953 - Page 3

Coke Ovens

The coke ovens at Clay Cross closed on 28th March 1953, but extensions to the coke ovens at Holmewood (Derbyshire) were commenced.

Ollerton Pithead Baths

Ollerton 15bRex Ringham (760), the Chairman of the East Midlands Division of the NCB, opened Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) double-deck pithead baths on 2nd April 1953 but they were finally completed in 1954.  Incidentally, the men had voted against such baths in 1934 because they thought it was going to cost them. Like the miners of the past centuries, they had bathed at home. Generally they would have arrived home from their shift and had a meal, then stripped to the waist and their wife would have scrubbed their backs, although it was ‘a recognised old wives’ tale’ that some men would not clean their back for fear of weakening it! The free coal allowance was to make sure that the pit clothes were dry ready for the next shift and generally the range around the fireplace was littered most days with pit clothes. Electricity was supplied to all the colliery houses and hot water piped to most.

There were 1,850 clean and dirty side lockers. Each man was given a Bathers’ Handbook, outlining the method of procedure in 27 rules plus other additions. A medical centre was attached with nurse’s room and waiting room and surgery, giving instant access for treatment by a nurse or orderly for minor injuries.  The canteen was split, the clean side entrance being adjacent to the clean side baths entrance. A door to the back gave access to the dirty side of the canteen. A small bathhouse for Officials was located towards the dirty side entrance where cold water taps for filling dudleys plus boot cleaning and greasing facilities were available. Flower beds surrounded the building giving a pleasing aspect to the colliery, particularly when approaching by bus, which had a stop in the pit yard.  Racks for bicycles were close by, a popular form of transport to work as there were not many miners owning cars at that time. Of course most of the men and boys lived in the village and walked to work.

Fire At Shireoaks

On 9th May 1953 a serious fire was found on the Saturday night shift at Shireoaks (Nottinghamshire pit in South Yorkshire Area).  It appeared that the rubbing of a conveyor on spillage caused the fire that was now out of control.  The area had to be sealed off which seriously hindered production.  At the Whitsuntide holiday the stopping was breached, but the area was too hot from the fire still smouldering and approximately 2½ tons of carbon dioxide bricks were thrown through the hole by the Rescue team and then the hole was resealed.  It was hoped that the carbon dioxide would help to extinguish the fire. The stopping was breached once more at the annual pit holiday week but the area was still red hot and was resealed again.

Langton and Brookhill

New pithead baths, canteen, lamp room, offices and stores were opened at Langton (Nottinghamshire) in 1953.

Trials with a modified Waffler coal cutter at Brookhill (Derbyshire) proved successful. Basically it was an AB 15 cutter with a swan neck jib.

Self Rescuer Trials

There were trials with self-rescuers at Pye Hill (Nottinghamshire) in June.  These small canisters were carried on the miners’ belts along with the cap lamp battery and could be used in the event of smoke being found underground, and could last up to an hour, allowing a person to be able to get into fresh air or out of the mine.  It was somewhat similar to the gas masks issued during the Second World War but not covering the face but by using a mouthpiece attached to a canister containing cooling agents. By flicking and breaking the seal on the catch the top would drop away leaving the mask, mouth plug, nose clip and head harness free to be pulled over one’s face. They would become mandatory at every colliery, and periodic training or refresher courses would be run for all personnel at the mine who could travel or work underground, including the Manager and higher personnel. However they would warm up with breathing and become most uncomfortable. I suppose that was better than the alternative.

Linby Washery

A Baum washery plant at 200 tons an hour was commissioned at Linby (Nottinghamshire) along with a new dirt disposal plant with aerial ropeway.

Rawdon Container System

A revolutionary ‘container system’ was developed at Rawdon, (South Derbyshire Area).  It incorporated automatic hydraulic control operated by mechanical relays and the winding system, was operated by only 3 men.


During July 1953, Coppice (Derbyshire) had a record output of 18,073 tons for the week.  New Selston (Nottinghamshire) had a record output per manshift of 44 cwts per man.


A new pit bottom at the Tupton horizon was completed at Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire). 


The Waterloo seam was developed at Arkwright (Derbyshire). At this pit being situated as it was in a basin and with an anticline running through the take it appeared that whatever direction one went it was always uphill.

Sherwood To Shirebrook Connection

A connection was made underground at Top Hard horizon between Sherwood (Nottinghamshire) and Shirebrook (Derbyshire).  This connection as at several other pits was mainly to allow shaft work to be carried out at weekends and to allow a full shift of men to be employed underground, whereas normally if one shaft is out of use, the maximum number of men allowed underground is 9, unless an exemption is granted by the Mines Inspector (then usually up to about a maximum of 22, with named occupation). In other words it was an emergency egress for both collieries.

HM Inspectorate 

HM Inspectorate: North Derbyshire: FC Mackie succeeded Walter Widdas as Senior Inspector and William (Willy) Whitehouse was promoted to District Inspector.

At the Nottingham office Hugh George Thomas succeeded I Lloyd Davies.

Nottingham Evening News 24 Jan 1953
Mining Success
Fifth In Family To Gain Certificate

The fifth member of an East Midlands mining family to gain a Colliery Managers certificate, 24 year old Mr Edward E Bishop (5396) of the Red House Blidworth, has gained his first class certificate for coal mining. He is the eldest of four sons of Mr Edward Bishop, at present spare manager in No 3 Area (Edwinstowe) who was in charge of Blidworth for nine years until last month, and Mrs Bishop. The grandson of a miner, three of his uncles hold the certificate. One Mr George Bishop is manager of Bolsover Colliery, another Mr Charles Bishop is Under Manger at Markham Colliery, and the third is Frank Bishop (3258) Inspector of Mines for South Derbyshire and Leicestershire. All four brothers started as underground workers and progressed through various official capacities to their present posts. Mr E E Bishop studied for the qualification at Rufford Colliery where his brother William works as an Engineer. Last summer he was one of a party of four which travelled nearly two thousand miles during an 18 day tour of Germany.

(Teddy E Bishop would go on to be Undermanager at Ollerton, Manager at Cotes Park, Brookhill, Newstead, Production Manager in South Nottinghamshire Area, and finally Senior Mining Engineer. He died in 2012.)

Licensed Mines At Work in 1953

  • Church Gresley Fireclay (Church Gresley Firebrick and Fireclay Co Ltd) Coal and fireclay, Manager E Searson
  • Cobnar Wood (JW Fidler Ltd) Deep Hard and Tupton, 10/4, Manager JW Fidler
  • Dent Main (Dent Main Colliery (1924) Ltd) Parkgate 26/13, Manager C Briggs, Agent A Pemberton
  • Doe Lea (Doe Lea Colliery Co Ltd) Top Hard 22/8, Manager Dominic Lavin, Undermanager G Gilbert
  • Handley No1 (Handley Collieries Ltd) Flockton 30/6, Manager J Hall, Agent HS Lee
  • Hunloke (Blair Bros) Deep Soft 10/2
  • Lightwood (Handley Collieries Ltd) Deep Hard 17/4, Manager J Hall, Agent HS Lee
  • Moor Side (Dent Main Colliery (1924) Ltd) Parkgate 10/2, Manager C Briggs, Agent A Pemberton
  • Newbold (Pearson and Co (Chesterfield) Ltd) Tupton and Tupton Three Quarter and fireclay, 14/4
  • New Plumbley (W Redfern) Deep Hard
  • Riley Lane (H and C Hartshorne) Low Main 11/3
  • Wheeldon Mill No1 (JS Gaunt) Deep Hard, 16/4, Manager Arthur D Marriott
  • Whitecotes No1 (Boythorpe Co Ltd) Piper 20/10, Manager JW Fidler, Agent J Fidler.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1953

Two new adits were driven from the surface to a new area of Dunsil coal at Harper Hill (Nottinghamshire) (Horace Taylor) 14/3, Manager Dan Rogerson (1953-1961). The drift mine was situated off Chesterfield Road 2½ miles West of Sutton-in-Ashfield and just to the North of Huthwaite, near Newton Wood Lane end.

Preparation work was started at High Moor on the border of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire which was on the site of an old opencast site with the intention of sinking a footrill to work the Clowne seam. Development would be extremely difficult due to large quantities of water issuing from ancient workings (Wales seam) and would continue to be difficult for about 350 yards (320m).

Development of Springfield Drift mine at Tupton, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) shafts deepening to the Low Main seam were completed and shaft sinking was commenced at Bevercotes (Nottinghamshire).  A surface drift was driven for ventilation at Westthorpe (North Derbyshire).

Mobile Laboratory

A mobile Laboratory, based at Edwinstowe was commissioned.  An air sample could be tested in 10 minutes to determine its oxygen/carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide content, etc, a great boon if a heating was suspected. There was a Laboratory at Silverhill and another at High Street, Mansfield Woodhouse.

Dowty Roofmaster Supports

Calverton and Mansfield Crown Farm’ pits (Nottinghamshire) were equipped with the first Dowty Roofmaster hydraulic supports.  Later a comprehensive range of chock, chock shield and shield support would be developed.


Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire) had its highest manpower ever at 1,719 men and boys and produced 760,834 tons. 
Oakwood Grange produced its highest ever output of 143,168 tons in the year with 235 men.  

Thoresby, Bestwood and Gedling collieries (Nottinghamshire) produced over 1 million tons for the year again in 1953

Two Weeks Holiday

Two weeks holiday with pay was granted for the first time in 1953, where previously only one week had applied.


The Yard seam at Silverhill (Nottinghamshire) was abandoned around this time due to the numerous dirt bands in the seam. 

The seam had been developed from the old Blackshale level and the return air went via a 1in1 drift in No2 pit bottom, referred to as the ‘Yard steps’ as concrete steps were built into the side to facilitate easier access.  The seam had several thin dirt bands, I remember, as I was sent to measure sections on the old face 39s or 49s in 1954, an eerie feeling at the time being all alone on the panel and then having to ‘clamber up the steps’ to No2 pit bottom. 

Mice were in evidence underground no doubt living off the pony food and remnants of men’s snap.  We used to try to catch them in bottles by putting a piece of cheese in and then laying the bottle on its side to attract the mice in.  By comparison rats were underground at Teversal (Nottinghamshire) and Pleasley (Derbyshire). You never find mice and rats in the same place.


Trepanner coal-cutting loading machines were introduced at Coppice, Ormonde (Derbyshire) and Mansfield (Nottinghamshire).  These machines had cut away drums, which augured the coal at right angles to the discs used on shearer machines, and produced larger coals.

Auger Holes

Added coal production was achieved using 24 inch (0.61m) and 30 inch (0.76m) diameter augers to drill horizontal holes into small reserves of coal at Hucknall (Nottinghamshire), and similarly at Denby Hall colliery (Derbyshire) in the Low Main.

Woodside No1 Drift

On 19th November 1953, coal production began at Woodside No1 drift, (Derbyshire) taking the leavings or middle section of the Top Hard seam that had been worked by the old men over 100 years before.  Technology with preparation and the electricity market allowed the working of coal that had not been viable in times past.

Connection Made To Old Turkey Field Shaft

Workings in the Deep Hard at Cossall colliery (sunk 1878-1879) had approached close to the old shafts at Turkey Field colliery and a thirling was made to the old No1 North shaft by a steep drift to a new shaft inset at the Black Rake coal horizon in Dec 1953. This shaft was then used as an Upcast shaft for Cossall, (until the seam was abandoned in 1966). On 17 June 1871 Henry Elliott (16) was run over by waggons at the Turkey Field Colliery and died on 20 June 1871.

Collieries Closed in 1953

Frith Wood (Frith Wood Colliery Co) Dronfield, Derbyshire, Piper 12/3, 20/10/1953.

Harper Hill Drift Mine

At Harper Hill drift mine (Horace Taylor, Whatstandwell) near Huthwaite, the first area of room and pillar Dunsil seam working was abandoned (1942-1953).  The men were transported to and from work on the back of a lorry and stated to me when on a royalty check visit that they would rather work at a private shallow mine than a deep one operated by the NCB

I suppose the regular day shift starting at about 8am could have had something to do with it also! However it was a steep adit at about 1in5 dip and water ran down it making it treacherous in places. They rode back out on small 5cwt tubs clipped to a haulage rope, the engine being on the surface. A further drift was driven to an adjacent area.

Opencast Sites

  • Aven 2nd Ell, 18th July 1953
  • Beal Alton 20/8/1952-23/2/1953, poor ash content and much iron pyrite
  • Brit Flockton, 9th Sep 1953
  • Crimea 2nd Ell 19/10/1953
  • Dove-Boat-Jess-Mon Low Main, found lots of old workings, abandoned May 1953, Co-ords of centre of site SK (43) 443300,350500
  • Ellin Bank 40 Yards, 21/11/1953
  • Far Lawn and extension Belper Lawn seam, 4th July
  • Gate Hallfield (South Derbyshire) Little 22nd July
  • Glade Shirland, 2nd Ell 24th Aug 1951 - 10th Oct 1953
  • Gypsy Ashgate, 295/53
  • Hoo Pottery Clay No1 and No2, Upper and Lower Ell. 9th Sep 1953
  • Huckley Lane, Tupton seam
  • Le Heath (Leicestershire) Middle Lount, Nether Lount, Yard, Lower, 28th Oct 1953
  • Open Wood Hospital and 1st Ell, 27th Aug 1953
  • Overflow (Nottinghamshire) Piper 13/1/1953
  • Red Buildings Top Hard, 25th Apr 1953
  • Senate 2nd Ell, North Wingfield, 28/7/1953-23/11/1953 met old works
  • Speighthill, Threequarter seam, New seam Tupton? 21st Dec 1953
  • Unicass Dunsil, Waterloo, 3/9/1953
  • Ward Hazel Clowne, Sough, 10th Aug
  • Willow Ley Top Soft, Roof Soft, Brown Rake, 14/7/1953. Willow Ley site abandoned and restored (surrounded by ancient workings)

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Pit Terminology - Glossary