1980 - Page 1
‘The Winter Of Discontent’
Due the strike threats etc the period was known as ‘the winter of discontent’. Other industries and public services came out on strike also.
First National Steel Strike
On 2nd January 1980 the first National Steel strike began, and was to last until 1st April. Most pits had a supply of arches and girders etc on stock, but as time went on it became necessary at some of the collieries to salvage arches from old abandoned roadways, to re-set again, in order to carry on working to produce coal. At Ollerton, arches were withdrawn from part of the old pit bottom loco circuit, now defunct.
Ray Chadburn, Nottinghamshire NUM President again deplored the action of the Steel Corporation’s plans to import coal from Australia which was said to be far superior to our coking coal.
Bathing allowance was introduced in January 1980 – what would the colliers of the previous centuries have thought? Strangely enough the miners’ coal allowance was only brought in by the old colliery companies so that a miner’s clothes could be dried around the range at the front of a roaring fire ready for the next shift! The coal allowance continued and some were allowed money in lieu for gas heating.
Short distance transfer payments not involving moving home were introduced. Later in the year, payments were made for attendance at Colliery Consultative Meetings.
JS Marshall (Deputy) succeeded as Chief Inspector of Mines (1980-1981). Inspector John Rushton (9498) was transferred to another area, Lancashire, from where he had originated, previously he had been Deputy Manager at Parkside.
Senior District Inspector: Dilwyn Richards (5250), District Inspectors: John W Jones (4652), Fred Turton (5713), Arthur Chaplin (3963), Inspectors: Guy DR Adamson (5391), John Bennington (5046), Ken Couldwell (5064).
Warsop was now the biggest supplier of domestic fuel in North Derbyshire, although 60% of the output went to power stations. A pneumatic coal blower was installed in the shaft raising the output from 400 to 500 tonnes per hour.
Chocks Tried At Pye Hill
In February 1980 higher pressure setting load density on chocks was tried at Pye Hill K39s Blackshale retreat panel (South Nottinghamshire) with 19 chocks in the middle of the panel. A 34” (0.864m) wide drum and a prop free front of 7’ 3” (2.2m) (exemption obtained from HMI exceeding 6’ 6” (2m) prop free front with Gullick 6x240 chocks at 3’ 7¾” (1.1m) centres extraction 6ft (1.83m), face length 150 yards (137m). Similar trials were done at Bentinck Tupton and Calverton Low Bright / Brinsley seams (South Nottinghamshire).
At Bentinck, Plessey PABX telephone system with 200 internal, and 731 underground system in use.
Output For 1979-1980
- North Derbyshire 11 pits 7,672,312 tonnes, 12,125 men at 2.93 tonnes OMS
- North Nottinghamshire 15 pits, 11,876,619 tonnes, 18,144 men at 3.06 tonnes OMS
- South Nottinghamshire 12 pits, 8,683,474 tonnes, 15,898 men at 2.57 tonnes OMS and a turnover of £225m.
South Nottinghamshire Area
- Annesley 955 men produced 570,000 tonnes from Deep Soft and Tupton. A major project to concentrate output at Bentinck colliery was in progress
- Babbington 1,150 men, 650,000 tonnes from Tupton and Blackshale
- Bentinck 2,150 men, 1,345,000 tonnes from Second Waterloo, Tupton and Blackshale. Rapid loading bunker operational and electrification of winders complete
- Calverton 1,460 men, 960,000 tonnes from Low Bright/Brinsley and High Hazels
- Cotgrave 1,770 men, 1,125,000 tonnes from Deep Hard
- Gedling 1,630 men, 700,000 tonnes from High Hazels
- Hucknall 1,140 men, 900,000 tonnes, Rapid loader installed and surface methane drainage plant
- Linby 1,170 men, 630,000 tonnes from High Main, Second Waterloo and High Hazels
- Moorgreen 1,065 men, 670,000 tonnes by surface drift from Blackshale
- New Hucknall 660 men, 456,700 tonnes from deep Soft and Yard
- Newstead 1,425 men, 770,000 tonnes from High Main and Tupton
- Pye Hill 1,090 men, 830,000 tonnes conveyed by surface drift from Blackshale and recently developed Piper seam.
Langwith Pumping Station
A pumping station, administered and paid for by North Nottinghamshire Area was set up at the abandoned Langwith colliery in North Derbyshire Area, as water collected from old Derbyshire collieries around, would only affect Nottinghamshire collieries. The red ochre in the pumped mine water settled out and solidified in the storage tank and was used to make paint and also used in the cosmetics industry in the manufacture of lipstick etc. The arguments that went on about the payment for pumping between the two Areas was unbelievable, to say it was supposed to be a nationalised industry. I attended one meeting at Coleorton where petty penny pinching arguments were bandied about sooner than say ‘let's share it’ or at least ‘proportion it’ with the relevant collieries and amount of water to be pumped. It was a case of ‘it’s our water .. but.. you can have it ‘!
At Morton (Derbyshire) for example a cascade had to be set up so that pumped mine water would be aerated as it ran down the tip to the water-course.
More Houses For Sale
Since the NCB had offered approximately 28,000 of their houses for sale with a further 4,000 in the pipeline had been taken up by sitting tenants throughout the country. A large number of houses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire had been purchased. However many would find that the transition from tenant to owner would be quite a burden, as previously all repairs etc had been carried out by the Estates Department of the NCB, but now they themselves had to sort it out, and pay for it.
Steel ‘Dog kennel’ frames were installed to protect modular face panzer gear boxes at Loader gate ends, one was installed at Ollerton Parkgate 2s panel.
Job evaluation of non-industrial posts was carried out in all Areas, as well as sample clerical posts.
Strike At Sutton Colliery
There was a short strike at Sutton colliery (North Nottinghamshire) during March 1980 over pay rates etc.
P Julian Griffiths (5676) was appointed Director, South Nottinghamshire Area (1980-1983), but he died suddenly in post 1983.
Pump packing at high speed, to prevent spon comb (spontaneous combustion) and cut down on floor lift was implemented at Calverton using the Aquapack system developed in the Western Area of the NCB. Packs were created using weld mesh cages with a bag 4’ x 4’ x 7’ (1.2 x 1.2 x 2.1m) on the benk side and a 7’ x 4’ x 6’ (2.1 x 1.2 x 1.8m) bag on the fast end side. The bags were filled with a mixture of fast setting cement and water pumped through one tube and a mixture of bentonite to prevent the cement setting before the bag was full pumped through another tube. The operation took about ½ hour, far quicker than filling packs on by hand with ripping dirt. Of course the only disadvantage was that the ripping dirt was wound out of the pit, putting further pressure on the coal preparation plant.
TUC’s Day of Action
Strikes took place in support of the TUC’s Day of Action on 14th May 1980.
No1 shaft (downcast) skip winding plant at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) was fully automated by 7th July 1980. The winding engine man became banksman/observer. Gravity winding was practised by water filled containers to move the cage in the event of an electrical failure.
Visit By The Israeli Ambassador
In May the Parliamentary Permanent Under Secretary of Power had made an underground visit followed by the Israeli Ambassador in July.
Replacement Winder At Thoresby
A new electric winder replacing the original electric one was installed at Thoresby No1 shaft during the 2 weeks holiday period. The 120 tonne winder drum had to be hoisted through the winding house roof by crane, the roof being removed first of course. Thoresby (North Nottinghamshire) had produced the highest output of 1,607,000 tonnes with 1,400 men in 1979/80. 60% of the output went to power stations, 20% to cement works and the rest to general industry and domestic use. The £4.7m refurbishment scheme included a new covered walkway from the pithead baths to the pit top, new office accommodation, lamproom and other surface buildings. No2 shaft engine upgrade was planned for summer 1981.
ICI Explosives Rep.
John S Wilson (11296) (Assistant Manager in charge of development at Welbeck) joined ICI as local explosives representative for the Area and his help was appreciated at times when one got landed with a new shotfiring pattern for headings to obtain a greater ‘pull’, i.e. a further distance.
Salary rates for HM Inspectors in August 1980 £17,160 - £20,810.
Pleasley To Shirebrook Scheme
A scheme to connect Pleasley to Shirebrook underground was started in 1980 (North Derbyshire). The yearly output was around 460,000 tonnes from the 9ft (2.74m) thick Deep Hard /Piper.
Thoresby miners were achieving +20m advance per week on 101s Parkgate panel (Nottinghamshire).
Collection of Mining Photographs At Archive Centre
A collection of 12,000 mining industry photographs is part of the vast collection of records at the NCB Archive Centre, Mansfield (established 1978). Under the 1958 Public Records Act some of the information has to remain confidential for 30 years – why?
‘Owt ‘ll do for t’pit’
My old Granddad used to say, ‘Owt ‘ll do for t’pit’. Of course this was somewhat true, because very few men were ever refused a job in the past.
Prior to legislation prohibiting same, men who were stone deaf e.g.
Pam Harpham, Teversal pit bottom stone deaf also Charlie Parker, who was a shot firer, and stone deaf but he had a battery operated hearing aid which was allowed underground as it was flame proof and the battery was charged in the lamp room.
Jack Patrick, Shotfirer, very poor eyesight
Bill Stain ex Deputy, pump man at North Dips (one lung)
Sammy Higginson (one arm – due to accident – was the Undermanager’s runabout and Teversal No2 (Shonkey) pit bottom onsetter. Men with one leg, one lung, one arm etc were allowed to carry on working underground, or with one eye, such as Wilf G Shelton Undermanager at Langton.
Surface men - one with a false leg, George Lesh, (e.g. Control room Ollerton), a blind gardener (Fred Smedley, also at Ollerton) who used to feel for the roses to prune them, whilst his faithful black Labrador guide dog sat nearby. Joe Goddard at Teversal had a wooden leg and he was the telephone exchange operator in the Power House as well as the surface 'run about'.