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Book 7 The Death Throes

1997 - 2000


1997 Pages

1997 - Page 8

Asfordby (North West Leicestershire) Closed After 2 Years

- Continued -

Seams worked: The Deep Main, an unknown hybrid combination seam of part Deep Soft and Deep Hard coal 9’ 8” (2.94m) was worked, abandoned 18/8/1997. Other seams were accessed. Over 4,045 yards (3,700m) of roadway drifting, around 547 yards (500m) of Yard seam drivage, 656 yards (600m) of Blackshale seam drivage, around 10,390 yards (9,500m) of Parkgate seam 10’ 3” (3.12m) drivage (abandoned 8/12/1997) and over 43,745 yards (40,000m) of Deep Main seam drivage was excavated up to closure. At the DC pit bottom work began in the Blackshale seam in Aug 1988 and at the UC pit bottom in the Yard seam in Feb 1988.

The 2 shafts were 24 feet (7.31m) dia with 170 feet (52m) high winding towers (finished in 16 weeks), to accept a 25 tonnes skip and 1,600hp fan. Site work had begun in 1984 and sinking began at No2 UC shaft Aug 1987. The freeze chamber was from 317 yards to 444 yards (290m to 406m). The Permo-Trias measures 306 yards (280m).

The Upcast shaft, co-ordinates E 472512 N 320593 pit bottom, was in the Yard seam horizon at 481 yards (440m), shaft depth 532.5 yards (487m), with a steep drift down to Parkgate and Blackshale. Deep Main 368.6 yards (337.1m), Parkgate 392.5 yards (358.9m), Blackshale 425.9 yards (389.4m), Inset 426.9 yards (390.4m), sump 464.7 yards (424.9m).

Unfortunately the shaft was sunk onto an extremely hard volcanic rock plug which proved impossible to bore and fire therefore the shaft was finished at this level and so the proposed level pit bottom area for loco transport could not materialise! Number one hiccough! The Downcast pit bottom E 472548 N 320686, Blackshale seam horizon at 399.8 yards (365.6m), Inset 382.7 yards (350.0m), Parkgate 369 yards (337.5m), Deep Main level 346 yards (316.4m). Again, the simple sinking of boreholes on the shaft sites would have proved the strata.

A similar mistake had been made at Bevercotes, where in that case the target seam was washed out requiring the shafts to be sunk deeper. At Cotgrave where the strata at the Deep Soft horizon was not conducive with stability for a pit bottom and a new one had to made at Deep Hard horizon some metres below. It would appear that quite a few of the pits sunk after nationalisation would never be 100% successful.

West Parkgate drivage had a Continuous Miner with roof bolting, started 19/12/1989. North Parkgate drivage started Feb 1990. Shuttle cars were used for removal of material. Development of the mine had been by the ladder system. However several heatings were experienced.

The work pattern of 6 day working was 3 weeks of 6 day working then have one week off known as the Asfordby Culture. There were teams of 5 miners, plus 1 electrician and 1 fitter to undertake Reg 11 duties. The craftsmen were trained to drive shuttle cars and other equipment to give job rotation. Middle management was in charge on all 4 shifts. Later the traditional post of Undermanager was dispensed with and the job was undertaken by the Deputy Manager (by Law only classed as an Undermanager anyway).

The largest underground vertical bunker in the UK was the 34’ 6” (10.5m) finished internal dia 10 feet (3m) larger than anything before, 43.75 yards (40m) deep to hold 3,000 tonnes. Lining was done by spraying a quick drying concrete onto the wall as conventional methods were not possible.

Based on a 6 day working week 6 pit records were achieved in November 1992.

  • 1,379m cut in 4 weeks
  • 69m of in seam drivage in one day
  • 108m in 101s main gate
  • 123m in 101s tail gate
  • 17,037 tonnes of ROM (run of mine material)
  • 4,080 tonnes in a day through the new-concept Larcodems coal preparation plant.

The Mechanical Engineer devised a free steered people carrier, shown in the photo to transport men along the hundreds of yards (metres) of roadways driven. Pit designed materials pods are unique and used for carrying mesh, firefighting equipment, water bowser for dust suppression and stone dust spreading.

The first retreat coalface 101s in the Deep Main at 284 yards (260m) long started 25th March 1995 but after 612 yards (560m) of working was stopped due to adverse conditions and water on 5th January 1996. A change of policy dictated that short wall retreat faces 76.5 yards 70m long would be worked instead it was re-headed out and the first one 102sC short-life face started 24th August 1996 and worked 984 yards (900m) outbye until 31st March 1997. A second 76.5 yards (70m) long face 102sB was begun on 16th November 1996 and finished on 16th August 1997 after 1,640 yards (1,500m) retreat working. The first 284 yards (260m) long face 101s C1 was re-headed at a few hundred yards (metres) outbye and restarted 28th June 1997 but after only 153 yards (140m) the working was flooded when water rushed in from the overlying strata and the panel was stopped on 26th July 1997 and ventilation cut off. A water dam to withstand a pressure of 4.1 Newtons/mm2 was built near to the pit bottom in Nov 1996. There were 2 staple pits, one being a vertical bunker 55 yards (50m) deep and the other about 31 yards (29m) deep.

The surface layout plan showed the most modern to date and comprised...

  • UC winding tower.
  • Explosive magazine.
  • Fan house.
  • Mine electrical sub-station.
  • Dry store.
  • Boiler house.
  • Reservoir.
  • Mine water settling tanks.
  • Grout plant.
  • Workshops.
  • Coal prep plant.
  • Offices.
  • DC winding tower
  • Screen transfer house.
  • Welfare block / offices.
  • Pump house.
  • DC air intakes.
  • Plant operator’s cabin.
  • Sewage plant.
  • Mine car halls.
  • Switch room.
  • Electrical sub-station
  • Rescue room.
  • Emergency winder pad.
  • Canteen, Medical centre and Control room.
  • Diesel tank.
  • Dirt conveyor drive house.
  • Reclaim conveyor drive house.
  • Skip transfer house.
  • ?
  • Rapid loading bunker.
  • Overspill hopper.
  • Hopper house.
  • Transfer house.
  • Large coal house.
  • Discard transfer house.
  • Run of mine stock shed.
  • Clean coal stock shed.
  • Store.
  • Large coal transfer house.
  • Boom loader.
  • Thickeners (later disused). The rail line outlet was to be by an old disused line that would be connected to the main line.

Manpower: at

  • 28th March 1992: 374 men u/g, 48 s/f plus 40 Under officials and 25 WPIS staff
  • 27th Mar 1993: 365 underground and 41 on the surface, total 415 but also 151 contractors u/g and 85 on the s/f. Some men travelled daily from Ollerton after its closure.

Jack Jones the Moderate NUM leader had warned of the danger of ‘slamming the door’ on 6-day working, as he said it could backfire on the union. Roy Lynk was the General Secretary of the UDM but by January 1989 he had been replaced by John Liptrott.

Output: Total output 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98 amounted to 1.5m tonnes. Colliery closed 18th Aug 1997.

Deputy Director (Mining) South Nottinghamshire and North East Leicestershire Project:

  • Jack J Lewis (5459). He was General Manager for Kent in 1967, previously Production Manager South Wales, Manager C William Colliery. His Deputy was Stuart Skelding (6257) CME (Major Projects) South Midlands Area, a new post Jan 1980. (Previously Production Manager Kent, Manager Bagworth 1967, Manager Nailstone 1964 (Leicestershire), Deputy Manager Cadley Hill - 1964 (South Derbyshire)

Chief Mining Engineer

  • John Chris Boyle (5733) retired Aug 1988 (Nottinghamshire Area) (previously Deputy Manager then Manager Measham 1963-1965, Manager at Cadley Hill 1965-1973, Production Manager South Derbyshire Area, DCME (Mine Planning and Survey) South Midlands 1977).

Deputy Chief Mining Engineer:

  • Donald J Cox (7223) 1986- (previously Senior Mining Engineer South Midlands (Asfordby project 1984), Deputy Manager at Birch Coppice 1965 and Rawdon 1971, Manager Ellistown 1976).

Managers for Asfordby:

  • Robin PH Dean (10897) Oct 1984-1986 (transferred from Manager Ellistown, previously Deputy Manager Birch Coppice, Undermanager at Baddesley 1977, Undermanager Daw Mill 1978, Undermanager (Services) Cadley Hill 1983)
  • Mick E Skelding (7563) (transferred from Cadley Hill, previously Manager Rawdon) 1986-1989
  • David M Betts (10958) Aug 1989-1991 (transferred from Cotgrave, previously Creswell, transferred to Clipstone, later Thoresby)
  • Gordon C Harris (11100) 1991-1993 (promoted from Deputy Manager Welbeck, transferred to Rescue Station Manager, Mansfield Woodhouse)
  • Gary Clark (11810) (transferred from Clipstone) 1993-1995
  • John P Whyatt (11312) (promoted from Deputy Manager Daw Mill, transferred to Manager Gascoigne Wood on closure, later Manager Daw Mill) 1995-1996, left the industry and much later after about 7 years joined HMI
  • Chris Little (11557), Acting Manager 1996.

Deputy Managers:

  • George P Betts (9445)
  • Dr Nigel Simmons BSc (11836) 1989-1991 (from Gedling transferred to Thoresby)
  • Terry T Pennick (10744) transferred from Calverton transferred to Safety Branch HQ)
  • Colin G Fiddler (11597) (transferred from Calverton, transferred to Sherwood)
  • John P Whyatt (11312) transferred from Gedling, transferred to Ollerton, left the industry 2000c, later joined HMI, 2008/2009)
  • Willie McGranaghan (11633) (transferred from Bilsthorpe, promoted to Manager Rossington/Thorne, later transferred to Manager Wistow, Riccall, Selby, (Yorkshire), then transferred to Harworth in Nov 2004-Oct 2006, Manager of the National Coal Mining Museum, Caphouse Colliery near Wakefield from Nov 2007-Mar 2014)
  • Paul Marriott (11374) -1997.

Assistant Manager:

  • Paul Marriott (promoted from Gedling, promoted to Deputy Manager).

Undermanagers for Asfordby:

  • Jon N Bowler (11553) -1991 (transferred to Parkgate Undermanager Bilsthorpe
  • S Zanker 1991-1997?

Underground Shift Managers:

  • M Arthur
  • DR Burnham
  • PH Seaton
  • N Moreton.

Roof-bolting Specialist:

  • Andy D McLennan (transferred from Ollerton)
  • AC Watkin.

Surveyors included:

  • Jack Brown (2414) Senior Surveyor in charge of the North East Leicestershire Prospect (2414)
  • GA Malcolm Skeith (4292) Senior Surveyor 1986
  • Keith Goodwin (5956) (transferred from Desford, South Midlands)
  • Ian Orgill (6483) 1997-1998 (promoted from Nottinghamshire, previously Deputy Surveyor Creswell, transferred to Daw Mill (Warwickshire -2011).

Fatal Accidents Asfordby: only one underground

  • Charlie Place (late 20s / early 30s?), a Conveyor Belt man. A FSV machine (free steered vehicle) rolled over and pinned him. He left a wife and 4 children. The scene of the accident is shown in the photograph. On this occasion a member of the police force accompanied the HMI Bob Leeming to the scene but was told that he could not interfere until the site had been examined by himself and measured up by the surveyor because underground accidents come under jurisdiction of HM inspectorate unless foul play suggested. Police had to be shown how to use self rescuer. 

Drifts At Calverton Put On Hold

Also in August 1997, the proposed drifts down to the Blackshale seam at Calverton were put on hold, due to the insecurity of the market. The pit was working areas of Top Hard and High Hazles seams.

Thoresby To Work Ollerton Reserves

The development headings at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire), projected to enter the old workings to work reserves left in the Parkgate seam at Ollerton colliery, when that Colliery was closed in February 1994, were also put on hold and 50 contractors were made redundant in October.
New Chief Executive

Kenneth Ferguson was chosen to be the new Chief Executive for the Coal Authority during 1997 and succeeded when Neville Washington stood down.

Coal Investments Went Under

In September 1997, Coal Investments went bust, with debts of over 60m from their 5 mines.

Proposed Workings Under Newstead Abbey

 Midland Mining announced in October that they wished to extract 1.5m tonnes of Blackshale coal from underneath Newstead Abbey, from the Annesley Bentinck mine. This caused furore from local residents, the public and the Byron Society. The proposal could never go ahead.

 Annual output for RJB Mining 1997: Asfordby 731,000 tonnes, 469 men; Bilsthorpe 432,340 tonnes, 105 men; Calverton 631,350 tonnes, 350 men; Clipstone 439,800 tonnes, 298 men; Harworth 1,761,900 tonnes, 674 men; Thoresby 1,980,000 tonnes, 602 men; Welbeck 1,440,500 tonnes, 628 men. Highest output was at Selby with Stillingfleet combination producing 3,630,709 tonnes, 1,276 men.

Opencast Sites

Opencast: Bretby South (Coal Contractors Ltd), Little Woodfield; Hall Lane Waste (Fitzwise Ltd) Dunsil (first part) 10/1997; Odd House, Eureka 4/7/1997, Bottom Woodfield 10/7/1997, Slate 15/7/1997, Little Woodfield 15/7/1997, Main 17/7/1997; Turnoaks Lane (Shires Dev Ltd), Clay Cross Soft 2/5/1997;

Jobs To Go At Clipstone

RJB Mining announced at the beginning of December 1997 that 78 jobs were to go at Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) immediately, giving rise to fears about possible job losses at Calverton, Thoresby and Welbeck

HM Inspectorate

Bob Leeming appointed HM Senior District Inspector of Mines and Quarries and Rob Stevenson (10121) HM Principal District Inspector.

Department Of Trade And Industry Takes Over

On 31st December 1997, British Coal that started out as the National Coal Board, in 1946, operating from 1st January 1947 was disbanded. Any outstanding duties were transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry. Eastwood Hall that had started as a Mansion for George Walker of Barber Walker and Co fame was evacuated at that time.