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Book 7 The Death Throes

1997 - 2000


1997 Pages

1997 - Page 2

Bilsthorpe Closed After 70 Years

- Continued -

The washery was a Baum type supplied by Simon Carves Ltd of Manchester and had a capacity of 150 tons per hour. It was 70 feet x 72 feet (21.33m x 21.95m) and constructed in reinforced concrete and similar to the other buildings had an asbestos sheeted roof. A 120 BHP motor by the Electrical Engineering Co with Broadhurst switchgear drove a centrifugal pump for water circulation. The total cost of the building and the settling tower was £34,872. The supply of raw coal was by a bucket elevator from the large concrete bunker below rail level that delivers at steady rate continually. The elevators delivered into the first wash box after which the coal was screened into 4 sizes...Trebles 3 inches to 2 (0.09m to 0.06m), Doubles 2 to 1 (0.06m to 0.04m), Singles 1 to inch (0.04m to 0.01m) and Slack inch to 1/16 (0.01m to 0.04m). The Trebles and Doubles passed down spiral chutes onto rubber loading belts whilst the Singles are conveyed to a bunker. The inch to nothing (0.01m to 0) coal passes with the water into the smudge sump from which it was raised to the second wash box by elevator. After re-washing, the coal passed over de-watering screens of the shaker type and thence into the bunker below. These de-watering screens left 5% moisture with the coal. The water was then pumped into the reinforced concrete settling tower which was 50 feet diameter and the slurry that settled passed over slurry sieves where it was de-watered and passed on to mix with the fine coal. The effluent went by drain to a brick walled pond 100 yards (91.44m) long and 20 feet (6.1m) wide which was situated about 300 yards (275m) from the boilers. The pond had barriers and sluices every 20 yards (18.3m) and a separate narrow channel running along its full length so that water could be allowed into any section as required. Here the very fine particles settled out and a dredger crane travelled along rails which ran by the side of the pond and placed slurry on the ground and then loaded it into wagons when necessary and transported it to the boilers. The washery required 4,000 gallons per minute of water for circulation and 3,360 gallons per hour for ‘make up’.

An aerial ropeway as similarly erected at other collieries took the dirt from the screens and washery to the tip about mile away. The ropeway was of the bi-cable type and supplied by R White and Sons of Widnes, Lancs at a cost of £5,700. It was 2,714 feet (827m) long and had a capacity of 50 tons per hour. The carrying buckets that cost £23 each held 12 cwts were spaced at 165 feet (50.3m) apart and the rope speed was 200 feet (61m) per minute. The average gradient was 1in37 against the load and the steepest gradient was 1in10. The full and empty ropes were locked coil 1 7/16 inches dia with a breaking strain of about 85 tons were spaced 9 feet apart at the standards. The haulage rope was 13/16ths of an inch flattened strand with a breaking strain of 20 tons and was driven through gearing and a 6 feet dia driving wheel by a 25hp motor. The tension wheel also at the driving end was 5 feet (1.5m) dia and ran freely on a vertical shaft 4 inches (0.10m) dia with hardened phosphor bronze bearing collar under the boss of the wheel to give easy and smooth working. The return was 3 feet 6 inches dia and was entirely automatic. The heights of the standards started at 30 feet (9.1m), then 45 feet (13.7m), 50 feet (15.2m), 70 feet (21.3m), 90 feet (27.4m), 110 feet (33.5m) and 120 feet (36.6m) for the return wheel and the largest span was 400 feet (122m) between standards. The first 4 were pyramid shape lattice steelwork and the next 4 were lattice steel towers with 4 guy ropes to support them. The ropes were set so that when in position they were about 45 degrees to the ground. At the loading, terminal or angle stations the carriers left the ropes and under the action of gravity ran round the corners on metal rails then automatically clipped themselves onto the haulage rope again. The clips were actuated by the weight of the carrier and the load was taken by 2 wheels on top of the carrier. The load was transmitted through the jaw which gripped the haulage rope between the 2 wheels and the carrier itself. As a corner was approached the carrier ran along a short length of rail on a third wheel which temporarily took the weight of the carrier and load and allowed the haulage rope to fall away from the jaws. The carriers were clipped on in a similar way, the haulage rope forcing its way into the jaw as the latter opened. The special automatic tipping device was portable and could be placed anywhere along the line causing the carrier buckets to tip themselves at that point. The system only required one man to operate the system and he was situated at the loading point. A man greased the pulleys on each standard at weekends usually on Sunday. There was an instance during high winds when some of the empty carrier buckets broke free from the haulage rope and ran away.

The empty railway wagons were pushed up the empty sidings by loco past the washery and over the main colliery road. The bridge with a 40 feet (12.2m) span costing £1,529 was constructed out of plain girder work with concrete buttresses. The wagons then gravitated down the 1in72 grade over the empty weigh bridge. The weigh house cost £276 and the Pooley weigh machine inside cost £473. The wagons then gravitated through the screens or washery and then over the full weigh bridge that was 48 feet x 28 feet and cost £433. A 60 tons double plate Pooley weigh machine cost £912. The trucks then ran into the full sidings and thence by loco to the LNER main line. Connection was also made to the LMS line. There were further sidings for landsale at the side of the road to the colliery. Here a weigh bridge for weighing the carts and lorries empty and full of coal. The approximate cost of a yard (0.91m) of rail, including labour, chairs, sleepers, rails and ballast was £2 2s 0d (2.10). Around £64,000 was spent on the sidings and connections etc.

A Power house with all the associated electrical equipment, cables etc, was built adjacent to the winders.

There was a plate bending shop with rolls costing £275, a punching and bearing machine at 174 and an oxy-acetylene welding plant that cost £35. There was one belt driven motor running at 515 cu feet per minute supplied by Bellis and Morcom. This shop dealt with al manner of broken or damaged pans etc and boiler parts.

There was an oil store brick building 33 feet x 16 feet 4 inches (10.0m x 4.98m) costing £305 and was equipped with 2 batteries of ‘Bowser’ tanks with self measuring pumps with 7 tanks holding 200 gallons each and 3 tanks each holding 100 gallons placed down each side of the building. The 20 tanks cost £250. Full drums of oil were rolled in at the big door, picked up on pulley blocks that ran on overhead rail about 4 feet (1.2m) and then placed on 2 parallel rails running along the top of the tanks. The drum was moved along the rails and emptied into the appropriate tank.

The loco shed was built by Lane Bros of Mansfield for 2 steam locos and was 70 feet (21.3m) long x 20 feet 4 inches (6.2m) wide and cost £936. It was a brick building with Robertson’s process metal roof that was made from steel sheets and covered with acid resistant bitumen. There was a pit between the rails for maintenance etc. There was a sand drier and coal bunker at a cost of £52 10s 0d. No1 loco 0-6-0 with 16 inch (0.41m) cylinders with a 24 inch (0.61m) stroke and 11 feet wheelbase with wheel dia of 3 feet 8 inches. The loco weighed 41 tons, far heavier than normal locos but was intended to be used for heavy loads. It had a copper firebox and was mechanically lubricated and was bought from Hawthorne Leslie and Co and cost £2,240. No2 loco was bought second hand for £725 and was also 0-6-0 coupled and made by Hudswell Clarke and Co. It had an 11 feet 6 inches (3.5m) wheel base with 3 feet 4 inches (1.0m) dia wheels and when filled with coal and water weighed 24 tons.

Originally whilst sinking operations were being done there was a mortar mill shed and cement store made from corrugated iron and was temporary and cost £260. It was 50 feet (15.24m) long x 40 feet (12.19m) wide. An old single cylinder horizontal steam engine was used for the mortar mill.

There was a Sinkers’ cabin 70 feet (21.33m) x 24 feet (7.31m) that was converted into a tub and wagon repair shop. The tubs had a 2 feet 4 inches (0.71m) gauge designed to carry 25 cwts of coal and were supplied by Hadfields Ltd at a cost of £10 18s 6d each. The body work was 5 steel sheets consisting of 2 ends, 2 sides and a bottom. The 4 wheels were from Osbornes and of the Rowbottom type, a set of axles and wheels cost £4 15s 0d and the pedestals of the bolt design 10s 6d each. The Osborne self-oiling wheels were of cast steel and were 1 foot (0.3m) dia and used in conjunction with 2 inch (0.05m) axles and cast iron pedestals. The chassis consisted of two H section girders which formed the buffers at each end with a draw bar down the centre. These were connected by 3 cross members and the body was attached by 5 bolts in each of the H girders and 3 bolts in the draw bar so that spare parts can easily be replaced.

Two cranes were in use, one with a grab was obtained from Booth Bros of Leeds for use at the slurry pond. It was of the loco type shunting crane with a moving jib with a maximum radius of 40 feet (12.19m) and a lifting load of 3 tons. At its minimum radius of 16 feet (4.88m) could lift 7 tons. The working steam pressure was 100 lbs per sq in and had a 7 feet 6 inch (2.29m) wheel base with 3 feet (0.91m) dia wheels and driven on both axles. The un-laden weight was 37 tons and cost £1,465. The grab was self dumping but could be hand operated if required. It had a heaped capacity of 34 cu ft or a full level capacity of 27 cu ft which would equate to about 1 ton of slurry. The grab with yoke plate and chains for operation cost £141. The second crane had a capacity of 3 tons and had a wheelbase with 2 feet (0.61m) dia wheels. It weighed 16 tons when loaded with coal and water but excluding the load. It was driven on both axles and was used for lifting machinery etc out of trucks. It cost £260 second hand.

The cost of opening out the underground roadways was about £2 10s 0d (2.50) per yard. The shaft pillar was 550 yards x 500 yards (503m x 457m). Bricking in pit bottoms, installation of transformers and power cables, Undermanager’s office and heading out through the pillar to make main roads for double track tub haulage.

The surface colliery offices were designed as one for a Manager and secretary next door, a room for clerks, time sheets, wages etc, and a telephone exchange plus a large 20 feet square (6.1m x 6.1m) office for the Surveyors. Cost of the building was £2,500 including furnishings.

Steam raised for winding was by 8 high pressure Lancashire boilers 30 feet long x 9 feet dia at 170 lbs / square inch pressure and 370 degrees Fahrenheit and each capable of evaporating 7,000 lbs of steam per Davy Bros of Sheffield at a cost of £6,080. Seatings for the boilers were by G Poulton and Sons of Reading at a cost of £2,120.Fixings etc from Hopkinsons Ltd of Huddersfield £1,700 and the Wilton Furnace and Chemical Engineering Co supplied the furnaces for £700. The super-heaters raised the temperate of the steam by 200 degrees F by T Sugden Ltd at a cost of £860. The chimney was 175 feet (53.3m) high with a throat dia of 10 feet 6 inches (3.2m) built by Furse of Nottingham and cost £1,950. 3 economisers, each with 480 tubes were supplied by E Green and Co at £4,422. 2 Clarke Chapman feed pumps supply the boilers with water costing £374. The ash handing plant was by Flood, Cropper and King. There was a main and tail haulage system for a special tip wagon to collect all the ash and deliver 10 loads to a large hopper at a cost of £615. Total cost of boiler plant was £29,287. Water supply from a well 136 feet (41.45m) deep x 9 feet (2.74m) dia with 2 boreholes 24 inch (0.61m) dia bored a further 175 feet (53.3m) deeper into the Bunter bed. 2 pumps by Havland Engineering delivered the water supply to the colliery and the village housing. A pump house was adjacent to the softening plant with a cooling pond 32 feet (9.75m) x 21 feet (6.4m) built by Lane Bros for 600. Efficiency of the pumps was guaranteed at 76%. The softening plant was the Lassen Hjort patent automatic type. The spray cooling pond with a storage capacity of 350,000 gallons and a cooling of 3,000 gallons per minute and constructed by Peter Lind and Co. The power plant both electricity and compressed air required for surface and underground use. 3 compressed air jigger picks for every 25 yards (23m) of coal face which is approx 18 picks per conveyor face. Small compressed air haulages by Markham and Co used whilst opening out before electrical haulages installed. The electrical plant consists of two 1,500 Kw mixed pressure turbo-alternators by Bellis and Morcom of Birmingham. The alternators supplied by the English Electric Co Ltd to generate 492 amps at 2,200 volts, 50 cycles, 3 phase, excitation being 120 amps at 110 volts. They are coupled direct to the turbines which run at 3,000 revs per minute, cost of the pair £16,822.

6 second hand Lancashire boilers shells were obtained for reservoirs for exhaust steam from No1 winding engine and to supply low pressure steam to the turbines.

A 185 Kw Bellis and Morcom high speed vertical generating set at 230 volts DC was originally installed for surface lighting. To supplement this a motor generator 2,200 volts, 40.7 amps, 3 phase, 50 cycle converting to 230 volts, 528 amps DC running at 1,000 revs per minute. Known as a 100 Kw size it was supplied by the English Electric Co Ltd at a cost of £650. A 300KVA transformer from British Electric Transformer Co Ltd of Hayes cost £294 to reduce the power voltage from 2,200 volts AC to 550 volts AC. The medium pressure switchboard supplied by Allen West and Co is of the pillar pattern and cost £308. The air compressing plant consists of 3 Bellis and Morcom 515 cubic feet per minute sets, coupled direct to Parkinson motors with Ellison switchgear. The compressors were high speed and 2 stage, the first stage raising the pressure to 25lbs per sq in, the second up to 100lbs per sq in running at at a speed of 367 revs per min. Cost £499. The motors were 110 BHP and use 165 amps at 2,200 volts, 3 phase cycle at £315 each. The Ellison switchgear cost £92 each. Each compressor unit cost £906 so the whole plant amounted to £26,042.The power house was 70 feet (21.3m) x 46 feet (14.0m) and only a dividing wall between it and the No1 winding engine. The 2 houses cost £12,263. The 2 turbo-alternators and the switchgear were on the first floor and the compressors, motor generator, transformer etc on the ground floor. A Chatteris 12 ton, hand operated crane with a 43 feet (13.1m) span runs the whole length of the Power house, cost £460.

No1 winding engine was supplied by Markham and Co of Chesterfield. It had 2 cylinders with 36 inch (0.91m) bore and 84 inch (2.13m) stroke and was double acting. It had drop valves on the inlet side and Corliss valves on the exhaust side at a working pressure of 170lbs per sq in and is capable of winding 2,000 tons per 7 hour shift from a depth of 800 yards. Cost of the engine was £9,250. Using a locked-coil 17/8 inch (0.05m) winding rope and 2 deck cages with 2 tubs per deck with an unbalanced load of 19 tons. A flat balance rope reduces this figure over a depth of 485 yards by about 3 tons. 75 draws per hour without bumping the cages at all at the end of the wind. The engine develops 2,750 BHP and has a 20 feet (6.1m) dia parallel drum. The overwind gear is by Thornewell and Warham of Burton on Trent. This is a small neat unit which is very effective and driven by a bevel gearing from the main crankshaft. A toothed wheel on a threaded spindle rotates and moves along in a horizontal plane during the wind. A governor moves a metal plate just above the wheel and as the speed increases the plate comes nearer to the toothed wheel. If the plate is struck it dislodges a one inch bar by about 1/8 inch (0.003m) and allows a lever with a big weight on it to fall. This immediately applies the brakes and shuts off the steam. The brakes fitted on the underside of the machine are applied to the rim of the winding drum. They are of horseshoe or cradle pattern and are supplied by the makers of the engine. The winding engine house measures 76 feet (23.16m) x 44 feet (13.41m) and is part of the Power house but there is a wall between the two. The floor has ordinary tiles but the walls for the first 5 feet (1.5m) have polished tiles to facilitate cleaning. The bottom row is curved so there are no corners or edges between the wall and the floor as in the Power house. There is a 12 ton Chatteris crane and runs the length of the house and similar to the one in the Power house. A capstan house is in front of the winding house and is 24 feet 6 inches (7.47m) x 17 feet 8 inches (5.38m). It contains a twin drum capstan and the cylinders are 10 inches (0.25m) x 16 inches (0.40m) and the drums which are 5 feet (1.5m) in dia and are driven by worm gearing and have a clutch and hand brake each. The capstan will take a load of 40 tons and was bought second-hand for sinking at a cost of £300. The cages are 14 feet 6 in (4.42m) long and 3 feet 4 inches (1.0m) wide and the two chairs are 2 feet 6 inches (0.76m) apart. There are 4 guide ropes attached to the outside of each chair at 1 foot 8 inches (0.51m) apart and the nearest one 4 feet 9 inches (1.45m) from the cage centre, the shaft being 20 feet (6.1m) dia.

This DC shaft has 2 deck cages with pneumatic decking, the rope is 17/8 inches (0.05m) dia weighs 7 tons 6 cwts 3 qrs and is fitted with a Reliance capel and has a breaking strain of 222 tons and cost 80s per cwt. The max load met is 23 tons when there are 4 tubs of dirt in the cage each weighing 10 cwt and the dirt in each weighing 30 cwts. The cage weighs 6 tons 6 cwts and the chains that attach it to the winding rope weighs 1 ton 13 cwts. The balance rope was a flat patent steel one with a section of 4 inches (0.10m) x 7/8 inches (0.02m) and a length of 540 yards (494m) and this rope weighs 4 tons 12 cwts and cost 45s per cwt. The cages are 14 feet 10 inches (4.52m) high and 14 feet 6 inches (4.42m) long and 3 feet 4 inches (1.0m) wide and clearance to the shaft side are 15 inches (0.38m) away and will hold 25 cwt tubs or 3 of the usual size.

No2 Winding engine, obtained from Pleasley was only temporary and was installed originally for sinking purposes. It was made by Thornewell and Warham about 1880, had Cornish valves and works at a pressure of 100 lbs per sq in and has a 32 inch (0.81m) bore and 66 inch (1.67m) stroke. A single deck cage, taking 2 tubs is used at this shaft. The engine has a 14 feet (4.27m) dia parallel drum and could wind 1,000 tons per shift. It is usually used for men and materials such as timber and other spares required during the shift so that No1 shaft can wind continuously. The engine house partly obtained from another colliery is only a temporary building and the estimated cost of same is £350. The house has been situated as such that a permanent winder can be positioned straight behind it when required.

The headgears constructed by Markham and Co are lattice steel type with pulley centres 80 feet 3 inches (24.46m) above ground level. The pulleys were 19 feet (5.79m) dia. Total cost for both shafts including foundations was £7,220.

Pithead baths with 2,016 clean and 2,016 dirty side lockers and 102 shower cubicles and canteen were completed in 1931 and opened 18th July with the dayshift men on Monday 22nd July being the first to use the new facilities. 25cwt tubs were used for coal winding and the rail gauge was 2’ 4” (0.71m). In 1933 there were 4 electrically driven chain coal cutters in use. The first one was installed in 1929. In the first few years of production over 135 job descriptions were noted.

The village had shops, Welfare and Institute and 20 acres of recreational grounds and included a cricket pitch, 2 football pitches, hockey pitch, rugby pitch, tennis courts, bowling green, cycle track and a Pavilion. 9,416 lb Polar Samsonite powder was used and 15,612 shots fired by low tension detonators. By 1939 there were 8 faces all using Samson electrically driven coal cutters loading onto rubber face conveyors then onto troughed gate belts to a Loading point in the gate which was moved up nearer to the face after about 250 yards (app 230m) advance. Haulages were endless rope type. 12,944 lb of Plastex sheathed explosive used in 1942 and 24,424 shots fired by low tension electric detonator (only 8 misfires). 14 electric longwall cutting machines were in use by 1944, 13 belt conveyors, 8 shaker pan conveyors on faces and 7 gate conveyors. 15 mechanical drilling machines were in use. 30,316 lb of Plastex and 7,148 lb of Driftex explosive used with 42,123 shots and 7,277 shots respectively and 21 misfires. By 1945 one arc wall cutter and 13 other longwall cutters were in use. In 1946 the number of shots was 30,319 using 25,131 lb Plastex and 8,798 shots for 8,798 lb of Driftex powder.