Also Called Whitemoor Colliery 1853 - 1929
Junction of Nuthall Road and Western Boulevard, towards Aspley
(Move Mouse Over Photo to See Today)
Wilkinson Street, Basford, Nottingham 1931
Photo taken from the Headstocks of the old Newcastle pit that stood on Nuthall Road, opposite Basford Road, it shows Wilkinson Street new road extension with the bridge over the London, Midland and Scottish Railway line (LMSR) looking over towards Shipstones Brewery.
I can still remember from my childhood throwing stones down the old shaft (which was not too well protected) in Melbourne Park, behind Nuthall Road.
Newcastle Pit on Nuthall Road from a old ordance survey map 1913
The Leen Valley At Work
Shaft sinking, however expensive, was something that Thomas North evidently had a passion for. The original shafts that he put down at Babbington in 1843 remained in use for the pit's entire life and even had names (Windy and Smokey) harking back to the days of furnace ventilation. But at seven feet wide they did restrict the flow of materials and coal and some observers have expressed surprise that he didn't develop Babbington with wider diameter shafts.
In 1855 he sought fresh opportunities and began a series of sinkings in the neighbourhood and once again new shafts were seven feet wide. Ten years after the opening of Babbington two more shafts were put down to the Top Hard seam at Whitemoor in a venture that became known as Newcastle Colliery after the Duke of Newcastle upon whose land it was built. Although coal turning ceased here as long ago as 1928 (making it possibly the first Leen Valley pit to close) the site was retained as a coal wharf well into the 1960's.
There was another foray at Broxtowe but then came further shafts at Babbington itself to relieve pressure on the existing limited shaft capacity. Known as the Hempshill shaft project this was also intended to help with ventilation. Later yet another 10-foot diameter shaft was opened nearby.
Shortly after North's death yet another shaft was put down this time at Bulwell little more than a mile away from Babbington. It was originally known as No. 5 but from 1877 to 1945 enjoyed the somewhat more dignified title of Bulwell Colliery. Although a small affair and not really typical of the mainstream Leen Valley pits Bulwell did, evidently, have a character all of its own and enjoyed an unsurpassed reputation for the quality of its housecoal. Even now old folk in and around Bulwell talk affectionately of 'Shonkey' pit. The nickname derived from the pit's haulage engine which was an upended locomotive.
Author Claude Bartholomew in his book The Leen Valley gives a fascinating personal account of an underground visit to Bulwell Colliery one Sunday morning in 1936. He wrote that while descending the shaft the sound of falling water was clearly audible. At the end of the visit the author was told that the term 'Shonkey' arose from the tendency of this unconventional engine to dance about on its mountings when working at full speed!