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The pit is now closing with one last face to be won out and is due to finish in May with the capping of the drift and ventilation shafts in August.

Page 13

Tue 17th Sept 2002 More buildings come down
Sat 19th Oct 2002 The Auction
Pit Closure Part 1
Pit Closure Part 2

More Buildings Come Down

I was on back shift so I managed to get these photos. Good photos ! The machine was impressive and cut through the girders as if it was butter.

I had to go to work when the didcot tube came down. The machine nibbled away at the bottom through a hole as far as it could then came around the back and pushed it over as simple as that. It's just a pity I never got a photo of it.

All the plant should be down by now, they just had some of the crusher house to finish off when I had a look on Sunday.

I can still remember all the work that went into it when it went up and now it's taking two or so days to take it down. It's not very old either. Thats how I see things when they are getting dismantled or destroyed , the work thats gone in to making it in the first place.


Good news about the drift however, it has had a preservation order on it, due to it's age and history, so that has been saved from destruction.


Work at Smallburn shaft will be finished this week and then there is the auction of machinery on the 30th of September.


I will send some final photos of the sites when they are finally cleared . . .

. . . and that should be that for Blenkinsopp and the diary.




Thu 17th October 2002 22:30

Last report from Blenkinsopp?

Blenkinsopp had its auction on Monday 30th September, a lot of people were there and not all buying stuff but what a day.

It was a lovely sunny day, very warm, which is unusual for these parts.
The manager said the auction was OK but not brilliant.

One of the items, a large underground compressor, which had been at 5 maingate, on the Castle side, went for £250, while an old tractor which was used to sweep the yard had made £700. Brand new they only sold for £1000! It was a good job the CAT loading shovel had made more than expected or it could have been worse. Funnily the buyer of the CAT immediately sold it on for £2000 more than what he had paid. A nice little profit!

I brought the wagon we used to run about in for £200. Not sure what I am going to do with it!! Wrytree and the Castle have now been given back to the landowners so now it's final.

Blenkinsopp has been closed and reopened a few times in its history but I think this time its final. A TV news crew which has been covering the closure said it would be impossible to open another mine due to the cost. What makes it sad is the fact we were so close to getting to the reserves. £1 - £2 million seems so little considering you could be keeping 80+ men in work for a few years, maybe up to 25 years if the reserves were proved correct.

Blenkinsopp's main problem, and it seems absurd, but the mine was producing coal too cheaply. The cheapest coal in Britain if not Europe, I've been told. Yes the costs were going up due to the distance the mine had gone but mainly due to the fact of the numerous faults that we kept bumping in to but these would have got better the further we got in to the reserves. Their is nothing we can do I suppose but I have enjoyed my time and the men I worked with, some real characters.

Funnily enough I still get snippet of information on Blenkinsopp. An interesting one sent from a mine owner at Alston, a part time rescue man called Clive Seal is doing some research on a book about the mines and railways around this area.

I've sent some photos of the auction which were taken by a man from Beamish museum. I have done a swap of my photos for his but he says they can only be used on the web if they have Beamish copyright and are of a low resolution 72 dpi. He has had a few visits to the mine and went underground twice. He has some great photos and some from the Smallburn shaft, which I have not been able to capture.

Speaking of museums if you are ever passing this region go to Beamish it is a good place to visit with a coal mine you can go down. Others are at Killhope and Nenthead well worth taking a look. Another place is Durham Cathedral. If you ever go in, take a look at some of the stained glass windows which are dedicated to the Durham miners and has a book on show of all the miners killed in the mines of Durham. A bit hypercritical however as the bishop of Durham had striking miners hung up in his stables when the first strikes started!

If you wish to use these photos you might need to get into contact with Beamish. He has been to your site before and was impressed by it so maybe he might allow it if the photos can be reduced to 72 dpi.

It's the final chapter really.

If I get permission to use these pictures I will increase the size, otherwise I will have to remove them.

© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum
© Beamish Museum