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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

1975 1976

  1978 Pages    1    2     3     4     5     6  

1978 - Page 1

National Safety Year

1977-1978 was classed as National Safety Year and all collieries were to push propaganda to reduce accidents.       

HM Inspectorate

The Chief Inspector of Mines James Carver (1975-78) retired and LD Rhyddarch succeeded to the post (1978-1980). 

Junior Inspector salary rates: 1977, £7,010 - £9,170, increased to £7,675 - £10,000.  Candidates to have First Class Certificate of Competency and should have been a Manager or Undermanager of a mine for at least 2 of the last 5 years.

Respirable Dust

Permitted levels of respirable dust laid down in the Coal Mines (Respirable Dust) Regulations 1975 increased by 1mg/m³ in each case.

Environmental Engineer

William (Bill) Bridge (ex Bilsthorpe (North Nottinghamshire) in the past) was Environmental & Dust Control Engineer North Derbyshire Area.

Heavy Duty Panzers

Heavy duty AFC (Armoured Face Conveyor) using 222mm pans and twin strand 22mm chain (first tried at Bevercotes) was installed on 1s Panel in the Parkgate seam at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire).

Cutting The Profile Of The Gate Using A Double Ended Ranging Drum Shearer

At Welbeck (North Nottinghamshire) ranging out of the face at the gate end with the DERDS to cut the profile of the gate with a limited number of shots, dropped the dirt onto a specially designed Dowty ripping table which tilted, allowing the debris to be loaded out by Eimco shovel.  It was the first prop less tailgate system.  4/200 short based gearhead supports, 3/2 and 3/3 in seam road head supports.  Sufficient dirt was ripped to provide app 6 yards (5m) packs each side.

A Macol mono-rail mounted impact ripper was working well at the gate end cut by shearer at Blidworth.

An Operation Was Underway To Put Out A Fire Near The Surface At Smoile Wood

At the end of January 1978 an operation to put out a fire that had been burning under Smoile Wood at Lount in the South Derbyshire Coalfield was agreed between NCB Opencast Executive and Leicestershire County Council.  The 6 feet (1.83m) thick coal seam was close to the surface and had been burning since midsummer 1975 and several acres of wood and scrubland had been destroyed.  Consent was given to opencast the area to put out the fire and as soon as the work began it was apparent that the area was riddled with ancient workings.

Highest Output Ever At Pye Hill

The highest output ever was produced at Pye Hill in 1977-1978 with 982,414 tons produced by 1,094 men.

Chainless Haulage System

Pye Hill was now the first pit in the country to have chainless haulage on all coal faces (one pinwheel)

Calverton had the second chainless system installed in January. There were now 23 chainless haulage system faces in South Nottinghamshire out of a total of 73 faces in the country.

Output for 1977-1978

  • North Derbyshire 12 pits was 7,418,206 tonnes (7,301,025 tons), 12,509 men at 55.8 cwts or 2.84 tonnes OMS
  • North Nottinghamshire 15 pits, 11,077,533 tonnes (10,902,547 tons), 17,784 men at 58.3 cwts or 2.96 tonnes OMS
  • South Nottinghamshire 12 pits, 8,947,330 tonnes (8,805,994 tons), 16,125 men at 52.5 cwts or 2.67 tonnes OMS.

Mine Managers Re-Graded

Mine Managers were re-graded from March 1978.  The title Manager was re-introduced for all mines and the old titles Colliery General Manager and Agent Manager were revoked and returned to the original title.

National Surveyor Visited Bilsthorpe And Ollerton On Same Day

Trevor Taylor (on the right of the photograph seen here with Alan Ratcliffe (3296) Area Surveyor S Midlands) continued as National Chief Surveyor. He had visited both Bilsthorpe and Ollerton in the same day in the past (1976) and made underground visits with Geoff Austin (Surveyor Bilsthorpe) and self to see a bunker and laser beams – he remarked to me that it was the first time ever he had been down the pit twice in one day – and 2 different pits at that. He originated from Yorkshire and was Surveyor at Measham before going to Area HQ as Subsidence Engineer then being promoted to Area Surveyor South Midlands).

Incomes Policy

To conform to the Governments incomes policy guidelines, 10% increases in March 1978 was applied after 12 months between settlements.

Borehole From Pleasley to Shirebrook

A borehole was drilled from the Deep Hard workings at Pleasley to Deep Soft workings at Shirebrook and coupled to the methane extraction range.  Methane piped from the old workings at Pleasley and Shirebrook (North Derbyshire) was to be used in a boiler to provide hot water for the offices and shower block.

Computer Control Of Conveyors

In March 1978 Bolsover (North Derbyshire), computer control of 16 conveyors underground was achieved.

Number Of Collieries

There were now only 231 pits in the UK employing 241,000 men and boys and the output per man per year had increased to 441 tons.

Archive Centre

The Archive Centre for mining records (but not plans) opened at Berry Hill, Mansfield in April 1978.

May Day Holiday

On 1st May 1978 everyone in Britain was granted a May Day holiday for the first time.

NCB Chairman Visited Annesley

Sir Derek Ezra MBE Chairman of NCB visited Annesley (South Nottinghamshire) on 10th May 1978 and saw the £1.5m scheme 1,100 yards (1,005m) drifts opening up the Tupton seam and praised the 900 miners at the mine for their efforts.

He also praised Nottinghamshire 34,000 miners for the extra coal produced and the £10m made in bonus payments in the last 6 months.

Mines Rescue Men On Strike

Mines Rescue workers at Mansfield Woodhouse decided to join their colleagues in Chesterfield and Ilkeston who were on strike.  The dispute was over an incentive bonus payment to men who had trained and were underground and face workers.  The men wanted their share of the bonus increased from 40% to 50%.  Officers at the Rescue stations were working normally and could attend an incident if required.

Sherwood National Record

A National all time record output from a single coalface of 27,461 tons in 5 days at Sherwood colliery (Nottinghamshire) was produced in w.e. 22nd May 1978 from 120s Deep Hard/Piper 203 yards (186m) long advancing face, breaking a record set by a face at Ollerton some 8 years before.  Face supports were Gullick Dobson MkIII wide-web fully shielded 4/250. The 66 miners and craftsmen on 3 shifts advanced the face 43 yards (39.5m) or 76 strips.

Deputy Area Surveyor Retired

Edward (Ted) Hinde (1…) Deputy Area Surveyor North Nottinghamshire retired and was succeeded by Group Surveyor Albert Eddie Betts (2…).

Surface Drift At Shireoaks

In June 1978 an £8m scheme, including driving a surface drift some 1,585 yards (1,450m) to the Clowne seam was started at Shireoaks (Nottinghamshire pit in South Yorkshire Area).

Harworth Drifts

At Harworth (North Nottinghamshire) an Eimco 711 single boom drill jumbo was installed, to cope with the extremely hard sandstone in the 1,200m long drifts to the Deep Soft at gradients of 1in7 and 1in9.

Colliery Allowances for Management Staff at Pits

From 1st July 1978, Colliery Allowances in 3 grades began to be paid for management staff at pits.  Grade A - Production staff £770, B - Specialists £525, and C - surface staff £350 per annum.

Early Retirement Down To 61

Early retirement for miners came down to 61 years of age from 1st August 1978 to those with a minimum of 20 years service.  The average wage underground now was £85.80 and on the surface £77.15. Between 1966 and 1978 piece rate earnings were abandoned. Some had lingered on where districts had a long life.

American Driller At Ollerton With Robbins Raise Drill

The Robbins 23R raise drill was used at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) on 4th July 1978 by an American driller, firstly to drill out a pilot hole at 250mm diameter to a pre driven chamber beneath, to create a vertical bunker.  (He set the drill to ream out faster than normal and did it in a record time, as he wanted to get away early to enjoy the July American Independence Day festivities’!). The 5 feet (1.52m) diameter reaming bit was fastened to the boring rods in the bottom chamber and the machine then reamed the hole out as it pulled back, the debris falling to the bottom where it was loaded out. The Area Tunnelling Team (ATT, Chargeman, Ken Hartwell) special works team, completed the sinking starting at the top and again tipping the debris down the hole to be loaded out at the bottom. The bunker at 18 foot 3 inches (7.5m) finished diameter and 35 yards (32m) deep would hold 900 tonnes.  A special tiled spiral chute, one of the first, was set out by John Shone, Thyssens’ Surveyor and me, to load the bunker, and workmen from Thyssens under the supervision of Zep the jovial Austrian (Thyssen Supervisor) completed the tiling in record time. A similar bunker was firstly introduced at Clipstone a couple of years before, this one having a central metal spiral, whereas the one just finished at Ollerton and the one at Thoresby and others built later, would have spirals built into the sides lined with special hard wearing tiles.  However these tiles would require changing occasionally due to the ‘brass knockers’ in the coal wearing them out.  These bunkers would become very popular in future at other pits, and would be used as a method of storing and regulating the out feed onto the belt conveyors.  A special unique inclined bunker at about 60º, holding around 1,000 tons would be driven at Thoresby later. I visited the site to note the surveying aspects as well as the operational driving of same.

Vale of Belvoir

On 31st July 1978 the NCB announced proposals to mine more than 500 million tons of coal in the Vale of Belvoir, following favourable results of boreholes.  It was proposed to sink pits at Hose, Saltby and Asfordby and housing was to be built to accommodate around 3,500 miners and their families, mainly from the South Derbyshire Area where the reserves were diminishing.

Pumping Water

Water from Langwith (North Derbyshire) was pumped through a connection to Creswell old High Hazel workings and would be carefully monitored by the Survey staff. Pumping at Williamthorpe prevents water from Avenue, Grassmoor and Holmewood reaching Silverhill (North Nottinghamshire) which is connected to Sutton and Pleasley (North Derbyshire).  Morton pumping station prevents water from Avenue, Parkhouse, Clay Cross and Tibshelf putting pressure on barriers between pits.  At Morton (North Derbyshire) a cascade down the tip aerates the water to remove concentrates of iron before being discharged into the river.  Oxcroft pumping protects Kiveton Park (South Yorkshire) and Creswell (Derbyshire pit in North Nottinghamshire Area).

Test For Radioactivity

Tests were made to check for signs of radioactivity at the old Alton Deerleap shafts to the west of Clay Cross, (Derbyshire).  Material had been deposited in 1949.  No activity was found.