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Book 8 The 21st Century


  2010 Pages 

2010 - Page 2

Welbeck Closed After 95 Years

- Continued -

An AC 1,268Kw parallel drum with balance rope at No2 shaft, installed in 1967 and was equipped with twin deck cages, bottom deck only for materials and 2 decks for riding men the electric winder installed at No1 shaft in 1968 was replaced in 1981, when a DC 2,386 KW Thyristor bi-cylinder conical drum winder was installed.

In Nov 1993 Eimco 913 free-steered load-haul dump vehicles installed.

In 1995 a Long Airdox 601E low profile FSV 54” (1.37m) high salvage machine was commissioned.

301s Loader gate development head advanced 1,600m in 16 weeks using a BJD ‘hands off’ 1038 miner.

A new shuttle service 40hp diesel 9 seater manrider designed by the Mechanical Engineer Graham Bevan was used in Deep Soft 217s Retreat gate some 3,000m long travelling at 8mph.

Roof bolting was introduced in 201s face head using a Pegasus machine in 1985.

Two 1.5m dia ventilation boreholes were drilled from the Top Hard level to the Deep Soft to increase air flow to the districts.

A further £8.4m was invested in opening out the Parkgate seam which was to prove beneficial, for in July 1998 a Parkgate face at Welbeck averaged 7,647 tonnes a day.

A Coventry surge bunker controlling a throughput of 1,200 tonnes per hour was installed in early 2004 allowing a Joy 4LS shearer that could cut coal at 1,800 tonnes an hour to carry on at full speed.

Conveyors had increased in width over the years and 54” (1.37m) is common and a few at 60” (1.52m) wide.

Drive trippers were strategically positioned to enable the required horsepower to be distributed along the length of the system to avoid overloading the system.

The blended product was despatched from a 2,000 tonnes capacity rapid loading bunker to power stations at West Burton and Cottam.

Dirt disposal was by conveyor from the coal prep plant to the site where the waste was spread by bulldozer and TS14 scrapers.

Landscaping done to previously agreed T and CP rules and land oiled and grassed and handed back to agriculture.

Water make underground was discharged and pumped into old lowside workings, there being no discharge point at the surface albeit that the River Meden is close by.

The mine was sunk 1913-1915 by New Hucknall Colliery Co. The colliery housing was built right up to the pit yard gates, however they were built without bathrooms and a large ‘tin’ bath usually hung outside was brought into the living room once a week and filled with hot water from a boiler at the side of the range fire where the miner’s clothes were hung to dry. Most other days the miner’s back would be scrubbed by his wife as he had a good wash down at the sink. Sometimes this task would be taken over by one of the daughters. The privy was outside and oil lamps provided the light. Pit head baths were built in 1939, shown to the left.

Tubs for raising coal were replaced by mine cars in 1954.

At one time there were 4 brick chimneys for steam-raising for winding and for brick making, however by 1957 there was only 2 chimneys left, these being removed when electric winding was introduced.

A new dirt disposal system replacing the overhead tipping system was introduced in 1957.

A loco shed was built in 1959 for a diesel engine, whereas previously steam engines were used as at most other collieries. New Coal prep plant and pit top traverser 1959.

Surface improvements were made in 1965 with pleasant grass lawns to colliery entrance.

There were 5 connections made at the Top Hard horizon to Thoresby.

No1 was a 1in4 drift through faults between Welbeck 26s finishing position 9th Apr 1953 and Thoresby working May 1954

No2 a 1in4 drift through faults Welbeck 30s Mar / Apr 1954.

Welbeck 26s level finished May 1960 to Thoresby 1959 working. 23s Retreat face finished Aug 1959.

His Highness Prince Charles Visited The Pit In July 1968

His Highness Prince Charles visited the pit in July 1968 and was to have toured 37s Top Hard panel on the North side. Unfortunately whilst driving a short snicket between two gates at an overcast at 35s to shorten the walking distance from the rope paddy to the panel a mistake was made in the gradient due to floor lift not being taken into account and an eleventh hour task was finished by the Area Tunnelling team overnight to put the job right and had just finished stone dusting the gate as His Highness was walking from a paddy to another district on the East side instead. The plan was changed as it was not known whether the snicket would be completed in time. (Quote by Fred Crowder, my friend and neighbour who worked on the project. He said the team worked at breakneck speed and ‘sweat from his brow sizzled as it hit his shovel’!). This connection gate was always remembered as Prince Charless snicket although he never walked through it. (Quote to me by Bernard Charles Undermanager. Bernard failed to meet Prince Charles at the ‘do’ as he was sent for at home whilst changing his clothes, to go down to the site of a fatal accident that had happened at 53s on that day). Dave Price was part of a team moving tubs out of a gate when one overturned and trapped him with fatal results.

Some pits seemed jinxed, as a previous mistake with a panel face line being set out too short created mayhem at HQ higher level for the Area Surveyor Charles Whyte who was once again grilled over the issue (as with all surveying mistakes). ‘The buck stops here’. The Surveyor Norman Preater had marked out the panel gates at the same centres as all the previous ones in the past on that side of the pit and had not noticed on the Planning Layout Plan that the new panel was to be longer in length. This resulted in 2 turns being made in the tail gate to give the required face length to accommodate the number of face chocks ordered and delivered.

You would honestly think that the mining side from the top down had never ever made a mistake. They did and many of them every day but generally they got away with it or eventually were promoted or sideways moved, invariably to another department!

Jim Stone (4524), then Chief Mining Engineer visited the pit on an inspection to a panel in 1970 but after walking inbye from the bottom of the paddy for a short distance then decided not to continue to the face but found paltry things to comment on such as only 3 bolts in a rail fish plate and similarly in several ring fish plates etc resulting shortly afterwards in demotion for Deputy Manager Bernard Charles (4923) back to Undermanager.

Welbeck was the first pit in the region to have Clayton steep-seam rubber-tyred battery locos for haulage work in the pit-bottom. I went along with Bobby Watson, Assistant Manager Ollerton in 1976 to check on the underground garage size, make notes and also to try out driving the loco around the circuit. A journey out to a Top Hard panel by loco haulage seemed ‘to take forever’, when I visited 84s district with John Higginbotham, Deputy Manager Ollerton in 1979 to see and make notes about the packing table system in use which was pioneered there and was about to be installed at Ollerton.

There was a surface re-organisation in 1981.

The Coal Prep plant had a nominal throughput of 450 tonnes per hour. In 1986 washed singles coal was being supplied to the Industrial market to be exported to France, Portugal and Spain also to colliery boilers in the Area.

A record 46,643 tonnes was produced from 302s 263m long 2.2m thick Parkgate face. 6 shears a shift was achieved giving 91 strips for the week. The Joy 4LS ranging drum shearer and each powered by 400hp motor.

Britain’s first BJD Miner and JCMs backed by Fletcher twin-boom drill rig and 2 x 150m cable reel shuttle cars was installed in January 1996. With a non-stop cycle can advance 14m in 2 hours. A surface assimilated underground gallery some 90m long was set up and equipped with tackle and trainees did their 20 days preliminary training there.

A scheme to ‘reduce ventilation costs’ was begun earlier and a 350m long roadway connection to the old SW roadway at neighbouring Thoresby linked the two pits together again when the road thurled in April 2004. This sounded to me like it would be one large complex mine in the future!

Deep Soft 215s Loader gate head was cut out by a 270hp machine with 1m dia head containing 28 picks.

Increased drivage rates in the 2000s were due to advanced techniques in rock bolting and use of stronger light-weight mesh panels replacing the old conventional arch set roadways. A 50m short wall retreat face in old Parkgate development started Sep 2004. The output was around 1.6m tonnes. Government grant of £5.2m towards a £17.9m investment for 13,000m of drivage to access 9m tonnes of reserves. Problems were experienced in 2003 due to unforeseen geological conditions. Further grants totalling £12.3 m in 2005 granted with £3.5m for face and other development work. Methane drainage was practiced in all seams.

Due to problems in development, a planned retreat face in the newly re-entered Deep Soft seam in 2005, it was decided to start the face on advancing methods, a system not used for the past 10 years, and for many, a new sharp learning curve was envisaged. Once again ‘mother nature’ proves that all the fancy modern technology and seismic surveys etc cannot foresee all the pit falls, and geological problems and faults had wiped out the coal reserves expected to be extracted in 2005. The colliery was reprieved from closure in early 2005 but progress both development and coal production was not up to expectations. High speed manriding / materials haulage system in the Top Hard to Deep Soft return drift. 2 way manriding with top and bottom belt in the Intake drift with endless rope manriding system inbye got the miners to work earlier and fresher than if they had had to walk it all the way and at the end of the shift a welcome ride back to the pit bottom.

In a record 16 hours an old worn out 8 tonnes capacity skip was changed to a 12 tonnes skip over the Spring Bank holiday 2005 by a team of volunteers. Men worked an extended shift on Sunday night so that the replacement could take place on Monday, when a full team completed the job.

Some men were transferred from Harworth during Sept 2005, whereas only months before men were being offered jobs at Harworth when it was thought that Welbeck could close! The first longwall retreat face for 2 years started in 2006, 207s double-ended ranging drum shearer extracting 2.4m coal produced 29,000 tonnes on 3 shift coaling with revised start times. At the end of 2008 a 15 year old rebuilt Joy 4LS5 DERDS was installed on the final face 221s which was a retreat panel with a run of 575m. It was the 7th face for this machine, quite a feat and obviously the savings were quite substantial compared with purchasing new.

A Modern Emblem On The Office Block Denoted The Scene Of Modern Mining

Welbeck given a further few months of life with an extension of the closure of late 2009 put back to 2010. The miners mate, a cable bolt (made by MMTT Steel Products, Newark). It was a pneumatic telescopic steel leg, 3m open height. It was a one man job, safer and less arduous. On the last Deep Soft face there were 206 x 2 leg 510 tonne chocks each weighing 15 tonnes. One strip produced 320 tonnes. Some heading men were transferred to Thoresby early in 2010 when all development ceased. Production ceased 12th May 2010. Men offered redundancy or jobs at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) (app 15 miles round trip), Kellingley (Yorkshire) (app 50 miles round trip) and Daw Mill (Warwickshire) (app 120 miles round trip), but not Harworth (Nottinghamshire) as originally proposed as the pit still remained in mothballs. Some men were kept on to salvage equipment to be transferred to Thoresby.