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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

 1950    1    2    3    4    5    6 

1950 - Page 4


On9th September1950soap rationing endedandrestrictions on eggs and flour wereliftedtoo. Miners along with certain other heavy industry workers were allowed extra soap for daily washing.

The Fire At Creswell Colliery, Derbyshire 26 Sep 1950

Creswell disaster 1950Conveyor Creswell transfer point site of rubber belt conveyor fire 1950

At Creswell (North Derbyshire) on 26th September 1950 at 3.45 am, an underground fire, which began on a rubber conveyor belt at No2 transfer point on the Main Plane in the South West district High Hazel workings, through the Elmton fault, spread quickly inbye, trapping 240 men some 3 miles inbye from the pit bottom. It would appear later that a groove in the conveyor belt caused by a piece of rock being fast in the chute and tearing a strip off the conveyor app 5 in (0.14m) wide which piled up in the chute and set fire due to friction. The conveyor belttravelling at 350 feet / minute was driven by a Sutcliffe Goliath 100 hp motor.

Out of 232 underground on that shift 133 men were in the South West district.

64s Panel was 1,690 yards from the top of the Elmton drift and 940 yards to 59s LH Gate. Of the 35 face men, only 4 escaped, and of 5 men on roadway maintenance, 2 escaped.

65s Panel was 1,195 yards from the top of the Elmton drift and of 36 face men, 28 escaped, and 1 man on maintenance escaped.

68s Panel was 1,435 yards from the top of the Elmton drift and out of 20 face men only 1 escaped and 2 men on maintenance both escaped.

74s Panel 1,915 yards from the top of the Elmton drift and of the 21 face men only 4 escaped and a man working on maintenance succumbed to the afterdamp also.

80 men in total died through smoke inhalation and/or carbon monoxide poisoning as the smoke was carried around the workings by the ventilation current, taking approximately 25 minutes.

51 of the 133 escapedvia the Return roadway, many forcing their way through the dense fumes, but had to walk outbye due to the 3 rail paddy being out of operation at the time. 2 other men had left the district earlier.

Sand bag stoppings were erected to close off the affected area by Creswell miners assisted by rescue teams from Mansfield Woodhouse and Chesterfield Mines Rescue Stations. Volunteers constantly filled sand bags on the pit top ready for transportation underground to the stopping sites.

Around 1,500 men and boys were employed at Creswell at the time, 1,144 underground and 355 on the surface and work recommenced at the pit in an unaffected area of the mine on 5th October 1950. The pit was producing around 14,000 tons of saleable coal per week.

PVC conveyor belting was introduced to all collieries following this disaster, as soon as possible and rubber belting was outlawed. 

Herbert White MP for Bolsover and William Bayliss President of the Nottinghamshire Area NUM attended with crowds of men and women at the pithead including NCB Area officials and the Chairman of the National Coal Board Sir Hubert Houldsworth. The Manager George Inverarity (2666) was underground organising rescue proceedings.

The church bell tolled and the local vicar Revd Stanley Branson held a vigil from early morning praying for the dead and the rescued. Father A I Whittett the Roman Catholic priest and Salvation Army members were also in attendance offering help.
Despite the heroic efforts by the Rescue teams and volunteers they were beaten back by the intense heat, falls of ground and dangerous gases.

Many women began to weep at the announcement that there was no hope for the remaining men, as 3 bodies had already been recovered. A party of 26 miners who worked at the pit descended shortly after 1pm to try to make a further attempt to reach the trapped miners some 450 yards (410m) deep underground.

H Godfrey was an Overman as was John William Turner. George Samuel Payton was the Undermanager promoted from Safety Officer and appointed January 1948. Herbert Ross had succeeded as Safety Officer. George Invararity was a spare Manager for the Bolsover Company and was appointed Manager at Creswell in November 1946, just prior to nationalisation. Thomas Archie Green was the Surveyor. No4 Sub Area Manager William ES Peach, Agent Jack A Tankard.

On 74s development district face (at 2,855 yards inbye) 21 men including the Overman, 65s panel (2,135 yards inbye) 31 men, 64s panel 22 men (2,630 yards inbye) all undercut, blown and loaded out by hand and 68s panel split face, now worked by Meco Moore cutter loader (2,375 yards inbye) 21 men. 

A pony was being used underground on the dinting area to improve the paddy road.

Cars were taken off the 3 rail return airway paddy road so at the time the paddy was not in its normal operating mode.

A memorial to the above was erected in the cemetery at Creswell. (Modifications and improvements were made to it in the year 2000). This would be the greatest mining disaster in Derbyshire and the Midlands Region. An eternal flame in an oil lamp hangs in the Parish Church.

Rescue and Fire fighting plans were kept at the colliery and also a copy at the Mines Rescue Station.

  • Manager of the central Rescue Station was George Little Brown.
  • Walter Widdas HM Senior District Inspector of Mines
  • William (Willy) Whitehouse HM District Inspector.
  • HM Divisional Inspector was William (Bill) B Brown.
  • For the NCB Wilfred L Miron OBE, Division,
  • Wilfred H Sansom MC Production Director
  • W Vic Sheppard No1 Area General Manager
  • John Brass Area Production Manager.

The inquest was on 17th/18th/19th October 1950 and resumed on 27th/28th November 1951 and the report was written by Sir Andrew Bryan D.Sc, FRSE to Geoffrey Lloyd MP Minister of Fuel and Power.

- Creswell Menu -

Other Fatal Accidents Included

  • Coppice, John G Brown (?) fall of roof 23/1/1950
  • 2 deputies at Mansfield Colliery who were overcome by blackdamp

Surveyor Retired After 71 Years Service

In October 1950, William Henry Moult (845) aged 85, retired from Hucknall colliery (Nottinghamshire) after completing 71 years service.  He had been Surveyor at the mine for 65 years and 3 months.  His successor Tom Leafe (2194) was to be Surveyor for the mine until 1986, a further 36 years. Quite a double record!

Pay Increase

From October 1950 there was an increase of 6d (2½p) a day bringing minimum rates for

  • Underground work to £6 0s 0d (£6.00) a week
  • Surface workers £5 5s (£5.25) a week. 
  • The War Addition of 2s 8d (13⅓p) a shift for day-wage men was also merged into the day-rate wage. 
  • For pieceworkers it was continued as a flat rate.

DPT Scheme

The NCB published its ‘Plan for Coal’ outlining the restructuring programme for the next 10 to 15 years. 

Directed Practical Training (DPT) scheme was created giving mining graduates a wide range of practical experience at pit level for 3 years before moving on to the ladder of colliery management.

Quite a few of these men ended up as Undermanagers, Deputy Managers, Managers or higher positions. However some had to move on to other jobs outside the industry as the pit closures began.

HM Inspectors

HM Inspectorate of mines

  • Divisional Inspector William (Bill) B Brown continued at King Street office in Nottingham
  •  Senior District Inspector George D Nussey
  • Inspector C William (Billy) Percival
  • Horse Inspector Tom J Melody.


  • Senior District Inspector: Henry Hyde
  • District Inspector: WL Cumpsty
  • Inspectors: Robert (Bob) A Ridsdale, John (Johnny) J Evans and I Lloyd Davies.

North Derbyshire

  • Senior Inspector: Walter Widdas
  • District Inspector: J Frame
  • Inspectors: SD Thorpe and William (Willy) Whitehouse.

Leicestershire/South Derbyshire

  • District Inspector: Fred Shooter
  • Inspector: Frank Bishop (previously Manager at Bestwood).

MQB Examinations

The Board for Mining Examinations was replaced by the Mining Qualifications Board (MQB) appointed by the Minister of Fuel and Power for 5 years, and comprised a Chairman and 7 to 10 other members including persons having experience in mining and administration. The rules subject to Ministerial approval concerning the qualification (including age, practical experience, education and good character) of the candidates for certificates, the manner and subjects in which they are tested and the standard of proficiency required. As before the examinations were held simultaneously in 6 or 7 centres in the main coalfields, e.g. Doncaster and Stoke on Trent in this region.

Surface Drift Abandoned

A surface drift dipping at 1in3 to the Blackshale seam was started at Babbington (Nottinghamshire) in the pit yard but was abandoned in 1951 after only 90 odd yards (82m) had been driven when plans were changed. (As Senior Surveyor whilst I was checking through some old information about the pit in 1989 it came to light that this was another example of a working when abandoned not being sent to the Mining Records Office. This had been overlooked by the previous Surveyors for the mine. This was rectified by me.)

American Mining

Both Shirland (Derbyshire) and Newstead (Nottinghamshire) collieries introduced the American mining system of pillar and stall, using Joy Loaders.  The system using Joy loaders and shuttle cars was tried at Silver Hill (Nottinghamshire) in the 3’ 6” (1.07m) thick Deep Hard North Dips area but was soon abandoned in favour of the longwall advancing panel system as before. 

Old Kilburn Shaft Re-Opened

Kilburn old shaft, sunk in 1839 was re-opened at Denby in 1950 as a ventilation shaft (Derbyshire).  It had been closed in 1906 and abandoned in 1907.

Underground Fire at Rufford

There was an underground fire at Rufford (Nottinghamshire) in the Top Hard, hampering production.

Pithead Baths At A Winning

Pithead baths were opened at Blackwell A Winning (Derbyshire) on 9th December 1950.

Output Record At Thoresby

The weekly output record at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) reached 20,017 tons for 6 days in December 1950, during ‘Bull week’.  This was traditionally a time when as much output as possible was attempted - the payday being the following week on the break up day for the Christmas holiday (or other holiday).

Avenue Colliery Closed After 68 Years

Other Closures in 1950

  • Avenue (Chesterfield) (Derbyshire) pumping shaft abandoned after 68 years
  • Avenue No9 sunk to 237 yards (217m) by Clay Cross Iron and Coal Co and Avenue (later Avenue No11 from 1900) sunk to 75 yards (68.5m) by Wingerworth Coal Co. Shaft positions E439559 N367760, E439260 N367960. The name of the firm was changed to Clay Cross Co Ltd in 1914. The old surface area would be used for a carbonisation plant from the 1950s.

Seams worked:

  • Deep Soft, Deep Hard, Piper, Tupton, Threequarters, Silkstone.


  • 1895: Avenue No9: 425 Deep Hard, Tupton, Silkstone, 74 s/f; Avenue: 24 Deep Soft, 5 s/f
  • 1900: Avenue No9: 367 T, S, 99 s/f, Avenue No11: 92 Deep Soft, 7 s/f
  • 1905: No 9: 361 Deep Hard, Tupton, Silkstone, 95 s/f, No 11: 160 Deep Soft, 26 s/f
  • 1911: No9: 343 Deep Hard, Piper, Tupton Three Quarters, 93 s/f, No11: 185 Deep Soft, 42 s/f
  • 1915: No9: 209 P, T, S, 54 s/f, No11: 152 DS, 28 s/f
  • 1920: Avenue No9 and 11: 515 Piper, Top Hard, Deep Soft, Tupton, Silkstone, 111 s/f
  • 1925: 371 T, DS, P, T¾, 87 s/f
  • 1930: 17 Tupton, Deep Soft, 17 s/f
  • 1931: Idle
  • 1932: abandoned


  • George W Dickinson (255) 1920-1932.

Managers for Avenue:

  • G Wharton (426) -1906
  • George W Dickinson (255) 1906-1920
  • J Robinson (3970) 1920-1922
  • Eric PW Muschamp (980) 1922
  • PL Collinson (1331) 1923-1930
  • GW Dickinson (113) 1930-1932.

Undermanagers: No9:

  • A Hunter (939)
  • William Butler (939 / 2) 1911-1916
  • R Bridgewater (4396 / 2) 1912-1919 (for both pits 1919; No11: G Davison (3255) -1903
  • JT Butler (4106) 1903-1906 (transferred to Clay Cross No2)
  • William Butler (5378 / 2) 1906-1911
  • JW Walters (4116 / 2) 1911-1919.

Avenue 9 and 11:

  • R Bridgewater (4396 / 2)1919-1929
  • TA Sharpe (2617 / 2) 1929-1931
  • No Undermanager for final year.


  • As for Clay Cross.

Fatal Accidents

  • W Greensmith (32) fall of roof 19/12/1860
  • William Lloyd (16) caught in machinery on the surface 19/5/1884
  • Charles Kilpin (22) fall of roof 23/4/1888
  • Thomas Beardsley (45) fall of roof 17/1/1890
  • George Lenthall (39) fall of roof 20/8/1894
  • Charles Yates (15) crushed by tubs 13/11/1896
  • William Brooks (35) caught in a coal cutter 28/10/1901, died 7/11/1901
  • George Lowe (37) fall of roof 6/3/1907
  • William Ramsdale (25) fall of coal 21/9/1908
  • George Berresford (35) fall in a roadway 1/10/1909
  • James Sharpe (73) injured his hand on 19/4/1912, died 17/6/1912 from toxaemia
  • Walter Wilkinson (52) fall of coal 11/3/1913
  • Tom Swift (44) fall of roof 9/5/1916
  • Francis Richard May (61) run over by tubs 9/3/1917, died 10/3/1917
  • Ernest Bird (54) fall of roof 15/9/1917
  • Walter Goodwin (63) fall of roof 12/11/1925.






Next Page 5

Pit Terminology - Glossary