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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1949    1    2    3    4    5 

1949 - Page 5

Coal Planer

A Kohlenhobel (German coal planer) was tried at one of the local pits in the Piper seam, probably at New Hucknall ?

First Joy Sullivan Continuous Miner

In South Derbyshire (No7 Area) the first Joy Sullivan Continuous miner in the country imported from the USA, was on trial at Donisthorpe colliery (Manager Harry Blakemore Bennett).

Shaft Deepened

No1 shaft at Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire) was deepened to the Tupton (Low Main) seam.

First Re-Organisation Of NCB

On 1st July 1949 there was another reorganisation within the NCB following the amalgamation of No7 and No8 Areas in 1948.

In this region the No2 Area of the East Midlands Division with HQ at Mansfield Woodhouse was disbanded and the collieries were absorbed into the other Areas. 

Creswell, Langwith, Glapwell and Whitwell (Derbyshire pits) were transferred to No1 Area with HQ at Bolsover; Sherwood (Nottinghamshire), Shirebrook (Derbyshire) and Warsop (Nottinghamshire) transferred to No3 Area with HQ at Edwinstowe; and Pleasley (Derbyshire), Silver Hill and Teversal (Nottinghamshire) to No4 Area with HQ at Huthwaite (Sub-Area Office was at Teversal).  Sutton colliery (Nottinghamshire) already in No4 Area was transferred to Teversal No4 Sub-Area.

Several Colliery Names Changed

Several collieries names were changed or adjusted:

  • Babbington formerly Babbington Cinderhill Nos 1 and 4
  • Coppice No3 formerly No3 and Mickley
  • Cotes Park formerly Nos 2 and 3
  • Denby Hall including Britain, Butterley Drift and Ripley
  • Field Shaft formerly Woodside No1
  • Gedling formerly Nos 1 and 2
  • Hucknall formerly Nos 1 and 2
  • Langton formerly Nos 7 and 8
  • Manton formerly Nos 2, 3 and 4
  • Morton colliery was formerly Nos 5 and 6
  • New Hucknall formerly Nos 1,2,3
  • Oakwood Grange formerly Grange Nos 1 and 2
  • Pinxton formerly Plymouth No2
  • Shireoaks formerly Nos 1 and 2
  • Stanley No2 formerly Hillside
  • Swanwick formerly New and Old
  • Whitecotes formerly Whitecotes Nos 1,2,3
  • Woodside No1 formerly Shipley.


The output for the 20 collieries for No4 Area for the week ending 7th July 1949:

  • Bentinck 13,382 tons
  • Kirkby Summit 13,006
  • Pleasley 11,025
  • Newstead 10,363
  • Silver Hill 10,154
  • Swanwick 8,422
  • Blackwell A Winning 8,100
  • Teversal 7,538
  • Langton 7,304
  • Brookhill 6,874
  • Alfreton 6,734
  • Annesley 6,477
  • Wingfield Manor 4,702
  • Sutton 4,696, (4’ 0” (1.22m) Deep Hard closed, Deep Soft proving not pursued Feb)
  • New Hucknall 4,252
  • Shirland 3,405
  • Blackwell B Winning 2,984
  • South Normanton 2,455
  • Cotes Park on holiday
  • Pinxton 804 tons. 
    By comparison, Thoresby in No3 Area produced a record 19,408 tons.


Hubert Houldsworth was elected Chairman of the NCB and Rex Ringham (760) was promoted to the Chairman of the East Midlands Division, to replace him.

Bulldozer On Tip

August 1949 a bulldozer was used for the first time at Bentinck (South Nottinghamshire) to take off the top of a conical tip.

Lancaster Drift

At Bestwood (Nottinghamshire) the Lancaster surface drift was completed.  The drivage had started in 1946 and had been named after a past Director of the Bestwood Co.

After reorganising, all the coal produced was conveyed up the drift and coal winding at the shafts was dispensed with.
Holiday Pay

Holiday pay for 1949 was

  • £7 10s 0d (£7.50) for adults
  • £6 0s 0d (£6.00) for 18 to 20 years
  • £4 10s 0d (£4.50) for under 18.

Lull In Recruitment

However there was a lull in recruitment, and some surface men who were classed as A1 fit were required to accept underground work or face the sack. (Refer to the case of Page at Newstead during the War).

First Walking Chocks

At Clipstone (Nottinghamshire), the first ‘walking chocks’ were on trial.  The first Dowty ‘walking support’ was tested at Holmewood previously.  The main face support at this time was the rigid steel prop with W section bars above.  These had been introduced in the early 1930s.  The main disadvantage with  these was the fact that generally they would be all the same length at a particular colliery, and should the seam vary in thickness, difficulty was experienced in setting the props. 

Should the seam thin,  then a hole had to be dug into the floor or roof to accommodate the prop, or should the seam thicken, extra wooden nogs or lids would have to be added, top and bottom to make up the height, and on occasion these would become unstable. Either of the methods required extra work. The new breed of hydraulic support would be readily adjustable in a few moments.  Previous yielding supports had relied on friction, with clamps and wedges.

Rescue Station

FM Quinn succeeded as Superintendent at Mansfield Woodhouse Mines Rescue Station, 1949-1959.

Approaching Old Workings

A Production Instruction was issued in the East Midlands Division on 20th Sep 1949 regarding precautions to be taken when approaching old workings.

The possible consequences of inaccurate surveying in places where old workings may exist are well known, therefore a Code of Practice was to be followed in future where workings were approaching old workings likely to contain water or gas. Check surveys and levelling of the main roads to be carried out and wherever possible by an independent qualified Surveyor other than the one doing regular surveys at the mine. This is particularly true for plans made prior to 1887 and unless known otherwise the workings are to be treated with suspicion as their inaccuracy could be due to show full extent of workings, incorrect correlation with the surface, inaccurate work due to failure to adjust for the variation of the magnetic meridian, or other means such as shrinkage or deterioration of the material on which the plan is made.

Every effort to obtain information and all old information to be checked where possible by surveying to any old known open or filled shafts or located by aerial photography by expert examination or other means and the old workings oriented etc and plotted to the scale of the working plan and should there be any doubt, a barrier of coal to be left of ample size. The information then to be given to the appropriate mining engineer official to determine the barrier width, however it is the responsibility of the Surveying staff to present the full facts, with all reservations and doubts which may exist as to the accuracy of the plan. A general rule of 40 yards (37m) shall be shown on all plans against old workings on certain plans. The precautions are in addition to any required by Section 68 of the Coal Mines Act 1911.

This instruction led to Sub-Area surveying staff being created at the outlying offices where one qualified Surveyor would organise for all collieries in the Group (Sub-Area) to be check surveyed in turn, sometimes for several night shifts and to the detriment of the team, say 3 or 4 of us, and particularly my personal home life as I was one who made the ‘number up’ at pits in the Group when I started work in 1953.

Monty Visits Coalfield

On 13th October 1949 Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein visited both Thoresby and Mansfield (Nottinghamshire) and went underground and remarked that he never realised what hard, dangerous, dirty work miners had to put up with. He also visited Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School for Boys at Mansfield where I was a pupil and I particularly remember he said “you are all decent chaps”

A photo of my dad, Frank Newbury, escorting Monty descending in the cage at Mansfield Colliery during the course of his visit there.  Dad is the borer with the drill and Davy lamp.
Noel Newbury (Click Here to See Email)

Looks like Monty is being searched for contraband prior to his decent in the cage.

Fire At Derbyshire Miners’ Holiday Centre

The Derbyshire Miners Holiday Centre was damaged by fire on 21/10/1949. It would cost £50,000 to repair.

Exploration Abandoned

The Threequarter seam exploration finished at Shirland (Derbyshire) in October 1949.  A previous trial had been abandoned in November 1944

Price Of Petrol Increased

On 25th October 1949 the price of petrol was increased by 2½d (1p) to 2s 3d (11¼p) a gallon.

Radio-Active Material Dumped

At the old Alton colliery (Derbyshire) abandoned in 1895 the 195 yards (178m) deep shafts had some radio-active material deposited in them and also some condemned paint during October/November 1949, then were capped with concrete.

Pithead Baths Opened

Alfreton (Derbyshire) pithead baths were opened.  Pithead baths were also opened at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) in November 1949 by Sir Hubert Houldsworth, Chairman of the East Midlands Division. There were 1,584 clean and dirty side lockers and 54 shower cubicles. However a number of men still continued to go home in their pit muck to bathe. An ambulance treatment room was attached to the Baths.

Shaft Deepening

Shaft deepening had begun at Pleasley North shaft (Derbyshire).

Gloster Getter

On 21st November 1949, trials were begun at Bolsover (Derbyshire) with the Gloster Getter cutting machine, output for 1949 being 599,000 tons for all methods.

Fire At Grassmoor

There was fire on the coal preparation plant at Grassmoor (Derbyshire) on 17th December 1949.

Age Of Ponies Underground

Little Duke

After 1949 no pony was allowed to be sent to work underground unless it was a minimum of 4 years old, and in future one horse keeper or ostler was to be appointed for every 15 ponies kept.  Proper record books had to be kept in future. Most pits using ponies had some system but the information was very sketchy.   

It is noted that apart from checks for ‘glanders’, the ‘mallein’ test was carried out on a new pony on 15/8/1943 at Wollaton.

Fatal Accidents

  • Blackwell A Winning Colin Wright (16) crushed by tubs 28/1/1949, died 29/1/1949
  • Mapperley, Harold Sowter (39) fall of roof 12/5/1949
  • Pleasley, John William Gaynor (57) fall of roof 24/1/1949, died 19/2/1949.

Opencast Sites

Opencast sites:

  • Carringtons Brown Rake, Top Hard, 26th Aug
  • Handley Wood Deep Hard coal 10” (0.25m), dirt 1” (0.025m), coal 4’ 6” (1.37m), branch 1’ 3” (0.38m)
  • Hardy Barn Cottages site
  • Peacock Hotel fireclay Deep Soft or Flockton seam
  • Swinehill, June 1949
  • Ticknall Hill Deep Hard, Piper, 18th Jan
  • Top Dumbles Deep Soft, Brown Rake, Roof Soft, Piper, Tupton, False Ell 3’ 3” (1m), 16/7/49
  • Whitecotes Deep Hard seam; 

NCB Agreement

An agreement between the NCB and the Railways Executive on 31st December 1949 required the NCB to give notice at least 90 days before commencement of working (meaning half depth) and if the Railways Board served a  counter notice compensation at the rate of 2s (10p) per ton of coal was to be paid for coal rendered unworkable. The NCB were to compensate the British Transport Commission (BTC) for damage caused by authorised working for all coal worked inside the area of support. The agreement was to be renewed on 1st January 1954. The Midlands Coalfield was riddled with railways. It was an extremely busy time for Surveyors.

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Pit Terminology - Glossary
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