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The Decline Of The Industry
And Nationalisation 1947



Cost Of Living Rise

On 1st January 1940 there was a further 5d (2p) a shift rise due to the cost of living. For boys and youths under 18 it was 2½d (1p).


From 8th January 1940, food rationing began and started with butter, bacon, and sugar and was followed by meat on 11th March. Foodstuffs from abroad were now severely affected by ship losses by enemy U boats.

Weekly allowance per person for tea 2oz (ounces), butter 2oz, margarine 4oz, sugar 2oz and fats 2oz. Extra cheese allowance allowed to workers with no canteen facilities and special ration for vegetarians who surrendered their meat ration.

Minister of Food WS Morrison rationed meat to 6oz per person per day (prime cuts).


Coldest January For Years

January 1940 was the coldest for 45 years.


President of Board of Trade, Sir Andrew Duncan (Coalition), 5th Jan 1940-1942.

Maximum Surface Manpower

At Bestwood (Nottinghamshire) (BA Collieries Ltd) the surface manpower increased to a maximum ever of 762. No mine in Nottinghamshire ever surpassed this surface manpower total. At Grassmoor in Derbyshire the total reached over 800, but there were several pit tops, with a total of 12 shafts for the complex mine.

Big Butty System

The Butty system had remained at the Bolsover Co pits until 1940.

Inflation Rise

A further 4d (1½p) a shift rise was granted to 18 year olds and over from 1st April 1940 as inflation spiralled, and 2d (¾p) a shift increase for those under 18 years of age.

War Budget

The April Budget brought out a points system of rationing for clothing and tinned meats. Taxes were raised again and included tobacco duty at 3d (1p) an ounce and ½d (¼p) on a box of matches. Snuff went up also, being a tobacco product!


The Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was terminally ill and resigned.

Whit Holiday Cancelled

The planned Whitsuntide holiday of 13th-14th May 1940 was cancelled by the Government due to the War effort.

Miners Entombed

At Morton (Derbyshire) on 2 May 1940 two men were entombed for 41 hours following a bad roof fall and they were released unharmed but shocked.

Emergency Powers Act

On 24th May 1940 the new Emergency Powers Act came into force effectively meaning that industry would be controlled by the Minister of Labour. There was a major reduction in employment.

Seams Abandoned

The Deep Hard working at both Blackwell A Winning and B Winning pits (Derbyshire) was abandoned in June 1940 at 183 yards (167m) and 228 yards (208m) deep respectively by the Blackwell Colliery Co.

The Abdy seam Coal 2’ 3” (0.69m), clunch, coal 5” (0.13m), soft clunch 4” (0.10m), dirty coal 5” (0.13m) was abandoned at Blidworth (Nottinghamshire) in June 1940.

Coalition Government

Once again a Coalition Government was formed under the Conservative leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with Clement Attlee (Labour), as Deputy, for the duration of most of the War (until July 1945).


The Fall Of France

The fall of France in 1940 threatened the export market, in fact almost wiped it out.

More Miners Enlisted

Many more miners joined up. During 1940 because of the War, underground connections were made by the Bolsover Co for ARP (air raid precautions) emergency reasons between Rufford and Clipstone collieries, and between Clipstone and Mansfield in the Top Hard seam. Other colliery companies would make connections between neighbouring mines also.

Another Pay Rise

Another 5d (2p) per shift rise was granted in August from 1st October 1940, due to War increases. Under 18s received 3d (1¼p) a shift. A wage agreement was signed between Nottinghamshire coal owners and workmen on 1st December 1940.

Wages for an Apprentice Surveyor just starting were 15 shillings (75p) per week (Bolsover Colliery Co), quote - John Herbert (ex Surveyor Welbeck 1950s following War service in the RAF and later Project Planner and Senior Planner North Nottinghamshire Area).

Reorganisation At Williamthorpe

The reorganisation at Williamthorpe (Derbyshire) started in 1938 was completed in 1940.

Bombs Dropped At Ollerton

A German Heinkel III bomber dropped two 500lb bombs at Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) on 31st October 1940. One landed near to the full weigh office and the other on Newark Road, but fortunately neither exploded. Members of the Local Volunteer Defence Corps later called Home Guard (set up on 14th May 1940), and a bit like ‘Dad’s Army’, certain important personnel were put in charge. Around Pinxton area, Les H Watson Chief Surveyor for Pinxton Collieries Ltd was one such example. He was also deeply involved in amateur dramatics at the Welfare Hall to entertain the locals during and after the dark days of the War. Monty Wright, ex Manager at Ollerton, now Agent, still residing at Ollerton Hall was another who was in charge of a platoon. He attended every night without fail.

Members of the Home Guard had to stand guard in all weathers for several days until the fuses were removed. Fire watching had been made compulsory at all places of work. Several other bombs were dropped on a couple of other occasions and a large one fell at the base of the railway embankment near to the station in Market Warsop where the explosion blew out the windows of houses – a fact kept quiet at the time. It is possible that their objective was the Edwinstowe forest where ammunition was stored in Nissen huts but although not exactly a well kept secret the Germans never found it.

Another Raid at Kiveton Park

There was a massive air raid by German bombers on 12th December 1940 and Kiveton Park pit on the North Derbyshire border with Yorkshire was stood from 16th to 21st December due to unexploded bombs on the colliery premises away from the pit yard and shafts dropped by a German raider en route to Sheffield. I don’t think that it was a deliberate raid on the colliery, and as at Ollerton above, probably the pilot unloaded the bombs hurriedly to lighten the plane so that they had more chance of escaping being shot down.

Bombs at Langton and Morton

Also during the autumn of 1940, a German bomber dropped a string of bombs at Langton (Nottinghamshire). None of the bombs exploded, on the colliery site, but the pit was stood whilst the bombs were removed and exploded safely by the Army bomb disposal officers. However a mother of one of the miners was killed and also a woman at nearby Pinxton by a bomb hitting her house. Note in 1955 a bulldozer uncovered a bomb in a crater in the pit yard about 100 yards (90m) from the shafts. Men were still allowed to carry on working whilst the bomb was removed by Army personnel.

This info was from the Nottingham Guardian Journal 11 for 10th August 1955

I don't think they made a lot of publicity in 1940 because of moral during the War. We were at a low ebb.

At Morton (Derbyshire) around this time a string of incendiary bombs was dropped by a German bomber, encircling the pit tip and lighting it up, although no damage was noted. (Quote by my friend Cecil Hill of Ashmore Farm, Tibshelf).

Air Raids
Fortunately during the War not one pit was seriously damaged by German action, whereas one bomb directly dropped onto the pit shafts could have entombed hundreds! Strangely enough not one pit was bombed by the British on enemy territory, which would have done the same thing – was there a ‘truce’ on such an action?
Two Surface Workers At Ollerton Jailed

Two surface workers at Ollerton (Nottinghamshire), Frank Hickman and Ken Wright were sent to Lincoln jail for refusing to work underground for the War effort. They stood by their convictions but were punished.

Only 40 Ponies

At the Butterley Company’s pits there were now only 40 ponies employed whereas in 1929 there had been 577.

Old Abandonment Plans Asked For

The Managing Director Major GD Mayhew and Mining Agent Frank M Joyce (844) of Hall’s Collieries Ltd wrote to George Cook the Divisional Inspector of Mines to ask for permission to obtain copies of old abandonment plans. The reason was to see where it was safe to set out new panels.

They paid the following amounts: for Stanton £24 14s 0d (£24.70), Cartwright £12 0s 6d (£12.2½), Bretby £1 19s 0d (£1.95), a total of £38 13s 6d (£38.67½).


John Brass was appointed Agent and Assistant General Manager Stanton Ironworks Co 1940, (started at Houghton Main (Yorks) 1929, Assistant Manager Grimethorpe (Yorks) 1936, District Manager for Manchester Collieries (Lancs) 1939, then Stanton Ironworks Co pits (Nottinghamshire).

Exhausted Up To Outcrop Limits

The Eureka seam at the Stanton (J and N Nadin and Co Ltd) and Thorntree Drift No1 (South Derbyshire) was exhausted to the outcrop limits and they were exploring other avenues to see if any economic coal working was available in other areas. Surveyor George G Bourne (62), Agent Frank M Joyce (508).

Wooden Props And Saw Pits

Wooden props for use underground were considered by many miners to be far superior to the steel props as the wooden ones would tend to creak or split when heavy weight was coming on giving the miner chance to move to a place of safety quickly whereas the steel props showed no sign of movement at all but on occasion would tend to fly out under stress and hopefully not injure anyone in its path, however it is known that many miners did suffer injury through just that.

During the First World War 1914-1918 millions of pit props and split bars were required at most of the collieries and there was quite a shortage due to the wood having to be shipped in from Scandinavia and many vessels were sunk by enemy action.

It was decreed then that a Forestry Commission be set up to alleviate the situation and grow our own timber. Vast forests of pine trees were set and these came to maturity some twenty or so years later and supplemented the imported timber.
To accommodate distribution to various collieries timber yards were set up, the local one being at Tibshelf Ramper.

Tibshelf Top Pit Dirt Tip is seen in the background
Tibshelf Top Pit Dirt Tip is seen in the background
The Saw pits at Tibshelf were set to supply timber to the local mines, much of the timber being imported from Scandinavia and off loaded at Immingham, then transported by train.

Sawn timber to the requisite sizes was then sent to the various destinations by rail again.

During the Second World War from 1941 women were set on to replace men who had joined up and a couple are shown in the photograph. Tibshelf top pit dirt tip is seen in the background.

Married Women workers not required for War service supplemented the elderly men working there and assisted with stacking and filling the trucks with timber.

The wood yard was closed down in 1956 following a disastrous fire and the women still working there were made redundant.

Collieries Sunk Or Opened In 1940

  • Amber (E Glossop) Ambergate, sinking
  • Bromehead (formerly Marsh Lane) (Bromehead Colliery Ltd) Marsh Lane, developing
  • Birley Lane or Dent Main No2, 2 adits 1939 and 1940 to Parkgate
  • Calverton (BA Collieries Ltd) sinking, as a satellite shaft for Bestwood Top Hard workings
  • Wingfield Park No1 (H and C Hartshorne).
    (5 Pits)

Closures in 1940

  • Bakers Bank (M Hurditch) (The Brushes) Sheepbridge, Mickley abandoned June, Piper 1 Aug 1940, 1 air pit 20 ft (6m) deep and adit, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (918)
  • Barlborough Common (Barlborough Common Coal Co. Ltd.) High Beamshaw (believed Furnace seam), section - coal 2’ 4” (0.71m), dirt 9” (0.23m), batt and coal 1’ 1” (0.33m), Adit drift 1in5, shaft 34 feet (10.33m) deep, Jun 1940, Surveyor Cedric Briggs (1308), George Cook HMI
  • Bilberry (H Kay), Holmley Common, sinking discontinued Dec
  • Furnace Hill (H and C Hartshorne) Tupton, coal top left 6” (0.15m), brights 9” (0.18m), coal 2’ 6” (0.76m), dicks 3” (0.08m), 16 Feb 1940, BR Russell (909) Coke Turner and Co Surveyors
  • Hady Wood (T Bartram), Chesterfield, Tupton, Sep
  • Holmley Lane (Messrs Kay and Rowbotham) Silkstone or Blackshale 30 Nov 1940; entrance and shaft 8ft (2.43m) deep, met old workings, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (918)
  • Hopewell (Hopewell Colliery Co Ltd), Dronfield Woodhouse, Mickley, Thin 1’ 5” (0.43m), 14/3, lease terminated 30 Dec 1940, adit and shaft 88 ft (26.8m), Surveyor and Manager George Hurst (798) MIME
  • Horsely (New Horsely Kilburn Colliery Co), 3/1, Dec 1940
  • Marsh Farm (Bromehead Colliery Ltd) Eckington
  • Mickley Starvehim Valley (E. Glossop), Mickley, Dec
  • Moreland (Hollis Colliery Co), Heage, Alton, Dec
  • New Shady Hall (CM Hibbert), Marsh Lane, 1/1, Silkstone, Nov and Quarry, Mosborough, Piper, July 1940
  • North Wingfield (J Harrison) Dunsill 3’ 0” (0.90m) heads and cross cuts, wide entrance and air pit 9ft (2.75m) deep, Surveyor Arthur D Marriott (918).

In The Dronfield District Old Collieries Closed Previously Included

Addy Booker and Owen, Barnes, Barnes Lane, Birchin Lane, Birchitt, Bookers, Cowley, Dronfield, Dronfield Charity, Dronfield Forge, Dronfield Main, Dronfield Main New, Dronfield Silkstone, Dronfield West Mickley, Eyres, Fallswood, Finney, Gomersal, Gosforth, Green Lane, Hallows Wright, Hill Top, Hirst Hollow, Hollows East, Holmley Common, Hopewell, Hunters, Hurst Hollow, Johnson and Lucas, Joseph Corners, Kitchen Wood, Leewood; Long Acre, Marsh Vale, Mickley, Mickley New, Oakley Main, Old Gosforth, Oxclose, Parkside, Rodmoor, Rough Piece, Silkstone Main, Stubley, Stubley Hollow, Stubly, Summerley, Summer Wood, Townfield, Townfield, West Silkstone, Woodhouse, Wreak Lane.

Further South, Pits Included

Barlow Lees, Barlow Silkstone, Bookers; Brendwood Gate, Bull Close, Chetwynd, Chivers Main, Cowley, Crowhole, Grasscroft, Lee Wood, Monkwood, Monkwood New.

Again many pits had little information about them and are not listed in Part 8 of this book.

Pumping continued at Campbell (Derbyshire) (Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd) Staveley.

At Swadlincote (S Derbyshire) Hall’s Collieries Ltd) the Woodfield seam was exhausted in January 1940. However there was a lack of knowledge of shaft depths.

Fatal Accidents 1940

  • Colliery ? Arthur Longden (33) crushed by tubs 5 Apr 1937, died 8 Jan 1940
  • Blackwell B Winning, Alfred Gent (38) fall of roof 7 Oct 1940 9 Oct 1940
  • Britain, Jack Brown (32) fall of roof 20 Apr 1940
  • Britain, Ronald Melbourne (18) run over by tubs 25 Apr 1940, died 28 Apr 1940
  • Britain, Frank Albert Ilsley (39) overcome by blackdamp 6 Aug 1940
  • Britain, Herbert William Wilde (36) fall of roof 6 Sep 1940
  • Brookhill, James Barker (50) fall of roof 5 Dec 1940
  • Coppice, James William Watts (46) fall of roof 7 Oct 1940, died 14 Oct 1940
  • Creswell, Eric Bonser (25) crushed by tubs 6 Jun 1940
  • Creswell, Charles Snowden Fall (62) fall of roof 17 Dec 1940
  • Denby Hall, Benjamin Ottewell (48) caught in machinery 24 Sep 1940
  • Glapwell, Joseph Richards (67) run over by tubs 27 Mar 1940, died 4 Apr 1940
  • Holmewood, John Robert Knight (23) caught in machinery 12 Apr 1940
  • Kilburn, Thomas Hall (34) hit by a prop 25 Jun 1940, died 26 Jun 1940
  • Langwith, Walter Wright (32) caught in conveyor 15 Apr 1940, died 17 Apr 1940
  • Morton No5, Frank Bradley (47) and Jim Blount (32) fall of roof on 3 May 1940
  • Ormonde, Fred Smith (39) caught in a coal cutter 19 Jan 1940
  • Ormonde, Edward Grainger (50) fall of roof 17 Apr 1940
  • Ormonde, Arthur Beardall Hickling (63) injured hand on 24 Jun 1940, died 27 Oct 1940, toxaemia
  • Pentrich, John Frederick Elliott (31) crushed by tubs 3 Jan 1940
  • Pleasley, Walter Cooper (20) fall of roof 21 Jan 1940
  • Pleasley, Frank Hill (45) fall of coal 1 Jan 1940, died 2 Feb 1940
  • Pleasley, William Hall (50) crushed by cable in a shaft 11 Nov 1940
  • Pleasley, Fred Coupe (46) fall of roof 25 Nov 1940
  • Ripley, James Cresswell (50) fall of roof 9 May 1940
  • Shirebrook, Edwin Holmes (36) fall of roof 26 May 1940, died 27 May 1940
  • South Wingfield, George Arthur Briddon (63) fall of roof 28 Dec 1940
  • Stanley, Francis Eric Whittle, (22) run over by loco on surface 5 Jan 1940
  • Wingfield Manor, Walter Timms (60) fall of roof 15 Feb 1940.

Average Wages

  • Nottinghamshire 16s 6½d (82¾p)
  • North Derbyshire 13s 10¼d (69¼p)
  • South Derbyshire 13s 5½d (67¼p) / shift.

Output for 1940

  • Nottinghamshire 17.6m tons, 43 pits using 330 coal cutters
  • North Derbyshire 14.6m tons, 55 pits using 480 coal cutters
  • South Derbyshire 1.1m tons, 7 pits using 39 coal cutters
  • Leicestershire 3.44m tons,12 pits using 109 coal cutters