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The Decline Of The Industry
And Nationalisation 1947


1920 - Page 1


President of Board of Trade, Sir Robert Horne (Lib Coalition), 19th Mar 1920-1921.
Secretary for Mines Walter Bridgman MP 1920-1921.

The Mining Industry Act 1920 was passed by the Mines Department of the Board of Trade that introduced the examinations and statutory rules made by the Home Office as included in the Coal Mines Act 1911. Responsibility for the Mines Inspectorate passed from the Home Office to the Mines Department.

Rescue Team

Regulations were passed regarding Mine Rescue Apparatus. The Superintendant in uniform is in the back row.

Steel Props Introduced

In May 1920 the Butterley Co introduced iron and steel props into their other pits, but the men threatened strike-action, as previously at Kirkby Summit, (Nottinghamshire) as they believed that they were not as safe as wooden supports that would creak when weighting came on, warning the collier. Steel supports would not yield and could fly out, and often did. However as time was to tell they were there forever in future, and eventually although it would take several decades wooden props would only be used as additional supports or where circumstances dictated.

Shafts Dewatered

At Renishaw Park (North Derbyshire) (J and G Wells), Staveley, the shafts were being dewatered and re-opened, having been flooded since 1914. Production would recommence in 1922.

Moor Green

Two 1in3 drifts were driven at Moor Green (Nottinghamshire) (Barber, Walker and Co) from the Deep Hard to the Tupton. However due to heavily-faulted ground only a small area of coal would be worked until 1925.

Naked Lights

Pilsley (Pilsley Colliery Co) (Derbyshire) like a few more pits around still allowed naked lights and smoking underground. Carbide lamps were used underground at the coal face. These were preferred to flame safety lamps that gave a poor light compared with a candle flame.


Nystagmus or ‘stag’ reached record heights, due to the lack of high illumination in the pits. The affliction affects the eyes, and sufferers have great difficulty controlling their eyeballs, which flitter about in the light and tend to cause the pupils to look up into the eye sockets. (I knew Mr Ted Brown, a neighbour at Sutton-in-Ashfield in the early 1950s with this affliction. I was fascinated in a way but I had no idea at that time of the seriousness of the condition. He had worked for many years at New Hucknall colliery).

Babbington and Broxtowe

Babbington colliery (Nottinghamshire) absorbed Broxtowe underground men but the pit continued to have 43 separate surface men (Babbington Coal Co).


Electricity was introduced to Langwith (North Derbyshire) in 1920 (Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co).

Wooden Tubs Replaced

The small wooden tubs at Teversal (Nottinghamshire) (Stanton Iron Works Co) were replaced with larger steel ones at one-ton capacity. The wheel gauge was extremely narrow at 19¼ inches (0.48m), no others in the district being so. The usual gauge at most pits was 2 feet 3 inches (0.76m) or up to 3 feet (0.91m).


Henry (Harry) Hicken was elected Treasurer of the Derbyshire Miners Association 1920-1928.

Colliery Names Changed

Some colliery names were changed: Swanwick (Old) and Lily Street to Swanwick (New) and Whites Lane (CRP Morewood) owner, Alfreton (Derbyshire).

New Hucknall and Welbeck

The Manpower at New Hucknall (Nottinghamshire) reached a maximum ever of 2,362 men and boys, 764 in Waterloo, (my Grandfather Eli White among them), 652 in Deep Hard and 546 in Tupton and at Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) the maximum ever was 2,428 (1,919 working Top Hard seam). The New Hucknall Colliery Co owned both pits. General Manager of the company was Captain Percy Muschamp.

The huge waste heap at New Hucknall was belching out sulphurous fumes from the several heatings that were raging underneath the tip surface. Those days, little account was taken of such matters other than in the long term red shale could be obtained from burnt out areas, and sold, as this was useful for roadway foundation work or driveways etc

Clipstone Camp

Clipstone camp was set up in 1915

Clipstone camp was set up in 1915 as a training camp for the army and had up to 30,000 soldiers billetted there by the time it closed in 1920. Later, in the 1920s when a population explosion occurred as Clipstone colliery (Bolsover Co) was sunk and opened, many mining families from other parts occupied the huts, attracted by the prospects of good jobs, and in 1930 the camp was eventually demolished to make way for New Clipstone model village (Nottinghamshire) where all the miners and their families were housed.


At Creswell (Derbyshire) (Bolsover Colliery Co) the manpower reached a maximum ever of 2,015 (1,628 in Top Hard). Manpower at Wollaton (Nottinghamshire) (Wollaton Colliery Co) reached a maximum of 1,178 and would then continue to decline year by year afterwards. At Cossall (Derbyshire) (Cossall Colliery Co) the manpower had risen to 1,023 (841 men in Kilburn and Tupton seams), but fell afterwards by some 400 following the 1921 strike as indeed the manpower at many other pits did. Many never recovered to former manpower levels but mechanisation in one form or another was increasing.


Piece-rate wages for coal production in Nottinghamshire and the Erewash Valley was 9s 7¼d (48p) and at other North Derbyshire pits 9s 4¼d (46¾p). South Derbyshire rate was 9s 4d (46⅔p).

The Stoker award of 16th June 1920 gave basis rates for haulage work underground. At 18 years of age, the rate was 4s 4d (21⅔p) per day on the 1911 basis, rising 2d (¾p) per day, per quarter. At 19 years old it was 5s (25p) plus 2d (¾p), at 20 years 5s 8d (28⅓p) plus 3d (1¼p) and at 21 years 6s 8d (33⅓p). From total proceeds of the District the costs of production including basis rates were deducted. The surplus was to be divided from Sep 1921 to June 1924 in the ratio of 83% to the men and 17% to the owners and from June 1924 to 1926 by 88% to the men and 12% to the owners.

Male Voice Choir

A group of colliery officials formed the Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir during the year. They would sing at many concerts and functions and would still be giving pleasure to many in the year 2004, when one of the venues would be at the Bethel Methodist Church in Victoria Street, South Normanton on 6 Mar 2004.

HM Inspectorate

From 1920 to 1928 FH Wynne was the Inspector of Mines and JW Head Sub-Inspector. The Inspectorate previously under the Home Office since 1843, now came under the Mines Department of the Board of Trade (1920-1942).


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