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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1949    1    2    3    4    5 

1949 - Page 1

Pinxton Coke Ovens

Pinxton Coke Ovens ceased to be controlled by the NCB from 1st January 1949

Fire At Parkhouse

The screens at Park House were destroyed by fire on 24th February 1949


Eric Leivers (3634), Undermanager at Rufford (Nottinghamshire) since 1943 was appointed Manager at Chislet colliery in Kent.


A Meco-Moore cutter loader was installed on 10s a 150 yards (137m) long coalface at Ollerton (Nottinghamshire).  The new face line had been headed out on a different angle to the normal faces being worked, but it would tend to leave quite large areas of coal that would not be worked, but would have been by the old system, however it was known that working ‘half on’ to the cleat of the coal was the best way with these machines that had been pioneered at Rufford and Clipstone.  The cleat or cleavage of the coal is the fine cracks which lie in a general direction North West / South East in the coal, and the coal breaks along this line when disturbed, giving fairly large lumps.  By the end of the 1950s, ten out of the twelve working coalfaces at Ollerton would be worked using Meco-Moore machines. However the main developing face was forced to work almost on ‘face coals’ by hand filling method to open up the area for the future Meco faces and at times proved very difficult, due to large slines or long pieces of coal falling. Many of these pieces required breaking up by hammer and pick before the coal could be shovelled on to the face conveyor.

Large Fall At Denby Hall

There was a tragic accident at Denby Hall (Derbyshire) in the 1950s when turning a Meco–Moore cutter-loader machine to cut the other way when the roof collapsed and 5 men were killed. (see report later).


Between 1949 and 1952/3 at Silverhill (Nottinghamshire), the Yard seam was worked, 39s and 49s panels accessed by drifts from the Blackshale level. This was the first roof bolted roadway I had seen and it would be many, many years before the system would be used as the major support, particularly for gates driven for retreat mining. A steep 1in1 return drift in the pit bottom area was known as the ‘Yard steps’ was the return airway (concrete steps in the side of the roadway, but large risers). A low-seam Meco-Moore machine cutter-loader was tried in the Deep Hard seam at Silverhill in the 1950s with mixed results. A Huwood cutter-loader was tried also on 35s.

Re-Organisation At Pleasley

A new reorganisation was started at Pleasley (Derbyshire) with a new pit bottom and new heapstead buildings.  At the North pit, the shaft was deepened by 70 yards (64m) and a new pit bottom at the Second Waterloo horizon was driven, with a new loading point constructed some 700 yards (640m) inbye. Fully automated circuits installed, and 3 ton mine cars and conveyors ran to a central loading point. Both shafts had new cages and pneumatic cage decking underground and surface. The reorganisation was completed by 1955, when battery locos were installed. I remember thinking at the time when visiting there, that things could never be better than that down a pit. It was freshly whitewashed, new locos and new mine cars without a scratch!  However riding down the South shaft that had rigid guides was an experience, for partway down the shaft where it had been deepened in the 1920s there was a bit of a kink that threw the cage out of line momentarily, but it a came quite as a shock on the first ride down.

Rationing Continued

On 15th March 1949 clothes and shoe rationing ended. After 7 years, sweets came off ration on 24th April 1949.  Sugar ration was reduced to 8oz on 14th July but sweet rationing was back at 4oz a week.

Mineral Development

A Mineral Development Committee set up in 1946 to investigate all the mineral resources in Great Britain reported its findings to the Government in 1949. They advocated that apart from gravel, chalk and clay all other principle mineral deposits should be nationalised as coal had been but the idea fell on deaf ears and was not implemented.

Clipstone Shaft Deepening

Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) shaft deepenings were started to the Low Main seam at 900 yards (823m).  A connection was made between Clipstone and Warsop and Clipstone and Thoresby at the Top Hard horizon. (see Warsop reorganisation).


There was an outburst of methane gas from the Top Hard seam at Sherwood (Nottinghamshire) on 29th April 1949.

Training Centres

A large surface and underground Training Centre was created at Bentinck (No4 Area) (Nottinghamshire).  Harold J Eley (2nd) an ex-Undermanager was Manager in charge and was also responsible for Silverhill (Nottinghamshire) Underground Training Centre (No4 Area – ex No2) as well. Preliminary training for young boys 15 to 18 was to be 16 weeks (or at least 264 hours) of instruction, whereas those over 18 entering the mining industry to have 3 weeks training, and the Minister agreed to relax some of the Training Regulations to enable the upgrading of miners to the coal face to be speeded up. Similar Training schools were at Mansfield (No 3 Area) Hucknall (No6 Area) (Nottinghamshire), Grassmoor (No1 Area) and Markham (Derbyshire). Lads in No5 Area trained at Woodside (Derbyshire) near Ilkeston. There was a Training centre at Donisthorpe in the South Midlands.

Coal Plough

Loebbehobel coal ploughs were introduced at Pleasley (Derbyshire) in the Deep Hard seam.  This system used advanced heads at each gate end of the face.  A haulage engine was installed in one end and a return wheel in the other advanced ‘stable’.  A toothed plough fastened to the steel rope was hauled up and down the coal face taking off a slice of coal about 4 to 6 inches (0.1 to 0.15m) thick and then loaded out on a flexible armoured panzer conveyor.  This was one of the first examples of the prop free front using friction props and link bars.   The idea came from Germany.

Holiday Pay

Statutory holiday pay rates per day were increased from 1st May 1949 to 25s (£1.25) for adults, 20s (£1.00p) for 18 to 20 years and 15s (75p) for those under 18.

Gas Industry Nationalised

On 1st May 1949 the Gas Industry was nationalised.


Underground coal gasification was tried at Newman Spinney Opencast site in North Derbyshire.  Holes were bored into the coal seam, which lay at a shallow depth and then the coal was ignited and allowed to burn.  The idea was to then extract the gas.  However these trials were not altogether successful. It was thought that the seam was too shallow to achieve the conditions needed for the experiment as cracksin the overlying strata allowed some gas to escape into the atmosphere.

Strike By Shotfirers

At Morton (Derbyshire) there was a strike by Shotfirers over rates of pay on 10th May 1949.  

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1949

Westthorpe Opened

  • At Westthorpe, Derbyshire two surface drifts to the Thorncliffe seam were driven at 1 in 4.5.  New Pithead baths were opened.

Collieries Closed in 1949

Waleswood Closed After 91 Years
  • Waleswood colliery, (South Yorkshire), (Skinner and Holford) near the North Derbyshire border which had been sunk in 1856-1858, Miners staged a stay in strike over the closure of the pit, after 91 years, from 11th to 14th February 1949. E446686 N383786. Seams worked: Flockton, Thorncliffe and Parkgate.
    Manpower: 1946: 533 u/g and 191 s/f; 1948: 584 u/g, 212 s/f.

Barlborough Common Mine And Others Abandoned

Barlboro Common Mine (Derbyshire) (owner George Evan Wilson), 2 adits were driven 1944-1945 down to Abdy seam. Later this was identified as the Sough coal seam. Section of the seam, coal 2’ 4” (0.71m), dirt 5” (0.13m), coal 11” (0.28m), and full dip was 1in12.4. A shaft 34’ 0” (10.5m) deep was sunk to the High Beamshaw or Furnace seam later.
Opencast workings were to the side of the drifts and old workings in the Beamshaw were found in June 1946 from a drift dipping 1in4. The pit was abandoned June 1949 (but the plan was not deposited until 24th April 1956!).
Plumbley New or New Plumbley, several adits near to 12 acre Wood and to North East of Hangman’s Wood Eckington, 1948-1949 met old works.

Scarsdale Drift (Derbyshire) (owner…?) closed.

Barlborough Closed 1949 after 75 years
Also Known As Oxcroft No3

On 11th February 1949, Oxcroft No3, (North Derbyshire) sunk in 1873-1874 as Barlborough, by the Staveley Coal and Iron Co was closed after 75 years and the High Hazel abandoned, and on 14th February Oxcroft No1 Drift mine was opened by the NCB to replace it. The mine was situated at Barlborough Common app 1½ miles North West of Clowne. Production from the Clowne seam started in July. There are around 40 shafts between the level and the outcrop (some may be Bell pits!). Position E447330 N373290.

Seams worked: The old Oxcroft pit worked the Clown(e) seam from 1848/49 to 1854.  The coal was got by Leadbetter from the shaft to W of Archdeacon Hills Plantation.  Lying at 40 yards (36m) deep it was a good soft coal 4’ 6” (1.37m) thick and no water. High Hazel seam -1948.

 No3 shaft 13 feet (3.14m) dia, Mar 1952: Clowne at 76’ 10” (26.5m)deep and 4’ 2” (1.27m) thick, Sough coal 2’ 6” (0.76m), dirt 6” (0.15m), coal 9” (0.23m) at 269 feet (82m); Furnace coal 2’ 1” (0.63m), clunch 2” (0.05m), coal 6” (0.15m), clunch 10” (0.25m), coal 6” (0.15m), clunch 2” (0.05m), coal 5” (0.13m), coal and smut 2” (0.05m) at 298’ 5” (91m); High Hazel coal 4’ 0” (1.2m), dirt 3” (0.08m), coal 1’ 1” (0.33m) at 493’ 4” (150m); Top Hard 5’ 2” (1.57m) at 825’ 8” (252m). E448310 N375880 DC, E449020 N377670  (Pebley shaft).

Level in Shuttlewood bed of coal.  Adit or level mouth and 10 shafts. Shaft sunk to Tinsley Park coal, also a shaft 23 feet (7m) deep to Black ironstone.

Positions: No1 43/4773/347316; No2 43/4773/327285, 342 ft (104.2m) above sea level; Main Intake Adit 43/4773/341330; Main Return Adit 43/4773/363296, 338 ft (103m); Second Intake drift 43/4773/372343, 343 ft (104.5m).

Manpower: 348 u/g and 79 on s/f. House coal produced.

Managers for the old pit

  • W Humble (1299)
  • John T deSeyfried promoted to Agent
  • RH Verner (4006)
  • J Curley (1552)
  • JC Jeffrey (1869)
  • Alex C Moonie (8..)
  • J Young (855) No3 and Agent and No5 dev-1939
  • G Dunn (1773)
  • L Hardy (1280) No1 –1939 and Agent 1942-
  • J Edwards (202) No1 and No5, 1939-1941 and Agent 1941
  • MW Fletcher (3111) No3, 1939-1941
  • Charles W Percival (2212) No1, 1941
  • GPS Withnall (2857) No3, 1941-1942
  • A Sloan (3301) (1942 - 1944), No1 and No5
  • Harry Jones (3630), all 3 pits under one management from 1945 - 1950.  Manager: George Bunting (1057).
Undermanagers for Oxcroft
  • A Alberry (2nd)
  • G Hutchinson (2nd)
  • W Limb (2nd)
  • M Parrott (2nd)
  • D Trousdale (2nd)
  • J Edwards (202) (promoted to Manager)
  • George Taylor (2nd)
  • TP Heslington (2nd)
  • G Dunn (1773)
  • G Walker (3903) 1943
  • John R Hunter (4409) 1949
  • F Marsden  (2nd) -1950.

Surveyors: included

  • John Ashton (…)
  • JA Milner (1811).

Fatal Accidents Barlborough Collieries

  • Joseph Wells (31) fell down shaft 7/11/1856
  • Elisiah Hardy (17) ?/3/1873
  • Henry Fuller (..?) 18/9/1874
  • Henry Bone (45) run over by wagon on the surface 12/9/1878
  • Lewis Bacon (20) 20/4/1880
  • Fred Woodward (20) fall of roof 12/6/1887
  • Robert Davis (55) fall of roof 6/10/1891, died 25/10/1891
  • William Bradder (30) fall of roof 25/2/1892 Wm Bradder
  • Horatio Clarke (40) fall of roof 18/5/1892
  • James Howe (53) fall of roof 7/11/1895
  • George William Fenton (18) fall in a roadway 22/12/1896
  • Joseph Lee (17) run over by tubs 14/7/1897, died 18/7/1897
  • Ernest Edwards (14) crushed by a tub 13/8/1896
  • John Massey (56) fell down the shaft 20/2/1899
  • Joseph Grundy (48) fall of roof 11/12/1900, died 12/12/1900
  • William Mellors (17) crushed by tubs 10/9/1902
  • George Clark (44) fall of roof 19/9/1902
  • No1: William Hemingway Jarvis (63) and William Brocklehurst (68) fall in a roadway 11/8/1906
  • Samuel James Rodda (20) dragged by tubs 25/9/1908
  • Henry Williams (15) run over by tubs 8/2/1917.

Oxcroft Collieries Fatalities

  • Frank Church (32) injured 8/12/1908, died of septicaemia 15/12/1908
  • Cornelius Stephens (37) fall of roof 5/12/1916
  • Albert Edward Cross (16) run over by tubs 3/1/1917
  • Explosion of firedamp 6 April 1919, 6 died
    • Eli Hunter (35)
    • James Taylor (31)
    • John William Chappell (26)
    • George Randall (26)
    • Elisha Whitehouse (57)
    • Sam S Barker (25)
  • John Thomas Greaves (25) injured his head on 17/4/1920, died 27/4/1920
  • George Morris (41) fall of roof 11/4/1928, died 15/5/1928
  • Henry Kirk (19) crushed by tubs 23/1/1929
  • Sam Stocks (27) hit head on a girder 22/10/1929
  • James Wild (32) fall of roof 4/11/1930
  • James William Purser (35) fall of roof 8/10/1931, died 27/10/1931
  • Edward Connelley (41) fall of roof 9/12/1932
  • Albert Alberry (42) and Sam Mellors (44) fall of roof 19/10/1933
  • Walter Colbourne (54) injured by a ringer 1/12/1922, died 2/12/1933
  • Fred Smith (27) run over by tubs 5/11/1934
  • Thomas Reynolds (37) fall of roof 22/10/1934, died 18/11/1934
  • William Pogmore (24) fall of roof 8/12/1936
  • James Henry Roberts (33) fall of roof 27/11/1935, died 27/12/1936
  • James Wright (45) fall of roof 29/1/1937
  • John Thomas Allfree (46) fall of roof 7/10/1937, died 18/2/1938
  • Joseph Froggatt (34) fall of roof 17/8/1946
  • John Ernest Hall (51) fall of roof 22/1/1971

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Pit Terminology - Glossary
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