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Calendar

Book 8 The 21st Century


Chimneys
2005

  2005 Pages 
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2005 - Page 1


The Axe Fell At UK Coal HQ

However the axe fell swiftly at UK Coal Harworth HQ when new Chief Executive Gerry Spindler took over. Around 50 of the 180 jobs employed at the HQ offices were to go as well as some jobs at the remaining collieries. I think that was only the start!


Ellington In North East Flooded And Closed

The last pit in the North East, Ellington, Northumberland, was closed in January 2005 as water had broken in and was flooding the mine. Although working some 6 miles way out under the sea it was proved that it was from old flooded workings in seams above and not sea water. The colliery had been closed by British Coal earlier but re-opened by RJB Mining and worked by them and UK Coal.


For The First Time In History The Saying


‘Sending Coals To Newcastle’ Will Ring True, And Will Not Be Meant As A Joke


Mines Closed Because Of Flooding

Ellington colliery in the NE (sunk in 1909-1913, surface drifts 1966-1967, merged with Lynemouth (sunk 1927-1934) in 1983 to form the largest undersea mining in the World. The complex had been closed in Feb 1994 and re-opened in Jan 1995, to work coal 6 miles way out under the North Sea. 6 Geordies were transferred to Welbeck.

Within weeks (April 2005) a further Manager, Derek Main (11650) was appointed at Welbeck. A few more men from Ellington were set on when a major influx of water, not sea water by the way, closed the colliery.

Strangely the last 4 mines to have influx of water causing closure of the mine Longannet and Monktonhall both in Scotland, Asfordby in Leicestershire and now Ellington in Northumberland post privatisation, when for decades major flooding was kept at bay by pumping schemes! Was the prohibitive cost of pumping mine water affecting profits?


Only 8 Pits Left

In January 2005 only 8 collieries remained in the whole of the UK, 7 of them operated by UK Coal, with 3 in Nottinghamshire (of which 2 of those, Harworth and Welbeck were under review).


UK Record Output

Daw Mill working the Warwickshire Thick coal (where 6 or 7 seams join together) created a new British output record in 2004 by producing 2,957,000 tonnes, all but 70,000 tonnes coming from one face, 301s panel, 328 yards (300m) long, but extracting 16’ 5” (5m) of coal, subsidence at the surface can be dramatic and obviously areas near or under towns will be restricted.


Monument On Highest Point In Nottinghamshire

BobAt Silverhill Wood, an area created to help regeneration, on the old tip of the closed Silverhill and Teversal collieries, and incidentally now the highest point in Nottinghamshire, a bronze statue of a miner testing for gas, the winning design, chosen from out of 200 entries, was erected on the site in 2005 to remind visitors of the great industry that once existed. A list of 50 of the more popular known mines in Nottinghamshire was also posted along with their opening and closing dates. Of course there were hundreds more over the centuries and the majority are listed in this book, for there is evidence that at least 285 named mines have been sunk in the county plus numerous Bell pits. Research is still continuing as there are many more, not yet identified, as I believe it is possible that mining has been carried out for over 1,000 years, as many shallow mines sunk have come across unknown workings.

It is with pride that I was instrumental, due to my research over the years, in helping to advise, along with David Clarke MBE, Mining Records Officer, the opening and closing dates of the mines selected. We were both cordially invited to the opening ceremony on 21st March 2005, where speeches were given by John Longden ex Director of Nottinghamshire, John Harris Chair of the Coal Authority, Terry Butler (ex miner and President of the NUM at Bilsthorpe) and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Environmental Committee and Dick Anthony Ashfield Council (ex miner Silverhill). 70 visitors were invited and small buses were laid on to transport them up the tip to the Marquee erected near to the statue where refreshments were available. Other interested parties boosted the opening ceremony to about 100. The statue became the highest point in Nottinghamshire, albeit that it was at the top of a man made coal waste tip. I met up with John Burgess an ex Deputy Manager and Harry Lingard an ex Undermanager at Silverhill. Several ex miners at the two pits of Silverhill and Teversal also attended.

Note: unfortunately in mid 2007 some thieves stole the bronze plate depicting all the information. It would be replaced later by one made in cast iron.

A similar monument was built at Hucknall (Nottinghamshire) during 2005.

Alan Beales was the driving force for the monument on the main road at Gedling village erected in 2010. Alan is shown to the left with Fionn Taylor, our Web-master, in the centre and me to the right. The photos were taken by the Nottingham Post photographer in 2013. The names of those killed at Gedling Colliery 1899-1992 are on the circular bronze plate at the base.

See Also Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum and Memorial


Calverton Time Capsule

In September 2005 a memorial at Calverton (Nottinghamshire) in the form of a pit wheel and a ceremony to bury a time capsule of artefacts relating to the pit was to be held. Again I felt honoured to be able to supply much information regarding the closed mine to Mick Lloyd an ex Official and the driving force behind the scheme.


More Aid For The Industry

Mike OBrien MP (Lab) Energy Minister suggested that after talks with the Treasury further money for the Coal Industry may be available. Coal Investment Aid support could help to secure the life of several mines and coal would continue to be an important fuel for energy needs for years to come. Upgrading of existing power plants could prove a short term measure and new coal-fired technology such as higher-efficiency super-critical boilers and turbines already commercially available. However as I see it, none will be put into operation as insufficient money will be available! The DTI was currently developing a Carbon Abatement Technologies Strategy for fossil fuel use. One idea is the possible pumping of CO2 from coal fired power stations to the North Sea oil and gas wells to rejuvenate them and allow more energy to be obtained. Water / steam has been used on inland wells in the past. However that idea is not much good for the coal industry unless it is British coal that is used in the power stations, and in particular Nottinghamshire coal.


MP And Others Made Underground Visit To Thoresby

Paddy Tipping MP (Lab) Sherwood went underground at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) accompanied by the Colliery Manager John Alstead and Pat Carragher BACM General Secretary, Phil Garner UK Coal Business Manager and Jed Clampett UDM Branch Secretary to try to appreciate the need for a surface borehole to drain the tremendous amount of methane gas built up in the Ollerton old workings, since Ollerton closed in 1994, to allow Thoresby to continue to work the reserves in safety. Energy Minister Michael O’Brien MP (Lab).


NUM National President At Kirkby

At Kirkby Festival Hall on Friday 21st January 2005, NUM National President Ian Lavery stated that the deep mine coal industry could be finished within 18 months, and in a passionate address to the Labour Government asked for the industry to be nationalised once more. He was backed by General Secretary of the NUM Keith Stanley. Arthur Scargill honorary President of the NUM was given a hero’s welcome and then a standing ovation after he too delivered a passionate speech to the hundreds of loyal supporters who attended, vowing to help rebuild the coal industry.

That can never happen, common sense dictates this. Millions of £s of Government (our money) has been ploughed into the pits, virtually making them nationalised, but to no avail. The cost of equipment is high, so are wages (up to £1,000 per week), and the price for selling coal is low in comparison to coal mined by Opencast methods or coal from other countries. Coal mining as it is cannot survive in the long term. Insufficient manpower does not allow the salvage of equipment from old districts as in the past, when even so in those days it was imperative that the cost of recovery in wages was only a third of the value of the items recovered, and there are thousands of machines etc behind stoppings. Prior to that I remember going round the finished district with the Undermanager and / or Salvage Officer and booking down and listing the items to recover, cables, length of pipes, rails, even to ‘dog nails’ in the sleepers, apart from the obvious machinery which would be assessed as to its worthiness for re-installation elsewhere or indeed whether it was possible to transport it outbye should the gate be crushed. Even today though equipment lies just behind stoppings on closed off districts waiting ‘to be recovered’ - but it is easier to order new! It also keeps the firms supplying the equipment in business! Some new inventions are needed so.


Gasification

It is known that some type of mining for various minerals has been carried on for around 5,000 years in the British Isles and the mining of coal for more than 1,000 years. We have barely scratched the surface of the coal reserves of 40 or more workable seams plus numerous bands of coal less than 12” (0.30m) thick in our region (and the dozens and dozens of seams of coal throughout the rest of Great Britain) and it may be several more centuries before a method to mine all those reserves other than by opencast methods for the shallower seams can be invented. Gasification, where setting fire to the coal underground and then extracting the gases / heat has been tried at shallow depths, e.g. Newman Common but failed, and an idea to do the same at great depth thought about. A project around Ossington near Newark was ‘dreamed up’ in the 1970s and I was a contact member, Ollerton workings being the nearest, but the scheme fell through. This type of idea will only be done when the oil and gas reserves run out, and maybe when other proposed ideas such as wind, water and solar power, oil shale, gas shale and others possibly fail, then necessity will become ‘the mother of invention’.