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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

  1952    1     2     3     4  

1952 - Page 4

Underground Fire At Bentinck

There was an underground fire about half a mile underground at Bentinck (Nottinghamshire) on Friday 8th August 1952 that affected production.  About 40 men inbye could have been lost had it not been for the quick thinking of William Dobbs and Harry Staples who warned the men so that they could make their way outbye to the pit bottom.  The two men later returned inbye and rescued 3 men who were overcome by fumes and were acclaimed heroes. The men recovered after hospital treatment. The fire started in the underground stables on the night shift and was caused by the ignition of oil-soaked wood and rubber conveyor belting. Domino the cat was grabbed and taken up the shaft where he leapt from his rescuers arms and disappeared across the pit yard, but 9 ponies in the stables perished through smoke inhalation. William Dobbs received a diploma and a medal for his heroic action.

Viaduct Demolished

On 24/8/1952 the defunct Carr Vale railway viaduct was demolished by explosives.

Saturday Morning Coaling

Saturday working resumed from 6th September 1952 on a voluntary basis.

Pithead Baths At Radford/Wollaton

Pithead baths at Radford / Wollaton (Nottinghamshire) were opened on 15th November 1952 and the pit was picketed by miners the following week to try to stop voluntary shifts.

Unofficial Strike

At Silverhill (Nottinghamshire) an unofficial strike occurred on 27th November 1952 over pay grievances.

Bolsover Company Assets

On 6th December 1952 the Bolsover Co received £7,737,000 for its colliery assets, some 6 years after the pits had been nationalized.

Manpower Numbers

Gedling with 2,370 men, and Thoresby with 1,646 men and Bestwood with 2,043 men all produced over one million tons for the year 1952.   Blidworth had its highest ever manpower at 1,911 and Silverhill reached a maximum ever of 1,330. All Nottinghamshire pits.

Closures 1952

  • Arkwright 24 ft dia (7.3m) shaft abandoned at 30 yards (27m) deep.  It was sunk by Kirks (Manager George Cowlishaw) not by the NCB.  It was filled in.  Beighton Fields Barlborough Low Common
  • Hollis (JW Fidler, Boythorpe Colliery) Blackshale or Silkstone, 3 adits, 2 shafts, start 1934? workable section in roads 7 feet (2.1m) – tops 2’ 9” (0.84m), clod 9” (0.23m), Tinkers 1’ 1” (0.33m), clod 4” (0.10m), bottoms 2’ 1” (0.64m), uneconomical due to flooding, 31st May 1952, Surveyor William M Erskine (1518) dated Mar 1943
  • Hunloke Arms (Blair Bros) Wingerworth, 2 adits, Deep Soft seam exhausted, dirt 1’ 3” (0.38m), coal 3’ 9” (1.14m), c1938 room and pillar working and robbing pillars on retreat, Surveyor: William M Erskine (1518) 14/10/1952
  • New Plumbley  adits near Twelve Acre Wood, Eckington Park, Silkstone seam,shale roof, coal 2’ 3” (0.68m), dirt 8” (0.20m), coal 1’ 8” (0.51m), fireclay floor, met fault and old workings, abandoned 12th Dec 1952, Surveyor A Green (1127) 27/7/1934
  • New Watnall (Barber Walker and Co.) (Nottinghamshire) sunk in 1872 was closed after 80 years
  • Wingfield Park No2 (H and C Hartshorne) Kilburn. 

Watnall, now closed still had 1 man underground and 5 on the surface doing pumping operations etc.

Grassmoor was amalgamated with Williamthorpe and coal turning ceased. The shafts were still used for manriding.

Grassmoor Training Centre

It was decided to open a Training Centre at Grassmoor (Derbyshire) in 1952. The pithead baths and canteen etc could still be used for the Centre. The old Manager’s office, a pay office that was in a wooden building, the rescue room and a cable shop that was converted to a classroom. Disused roadways in the pit bottom were converted for training purposes. Instructors qualified in mining operations were set on from nearby collieries. When the Centre was fully established the inadequate Training Centre at Williamthorpe was closed down. Because of the central position of Grassmoor it would be decided to centralise all training activities at one place and the Training Centre at Markham would be closed down in 1955.

The surrounding area was the site of a dirt tip and when cleared was quite boggy and needed much preparation work to bring it up to a good standard that was expected for such a facility.

On 11 Jan 1957 a Training Centre costing £77,000 was opened at Grassmoor (Derbyshire) for new entrants to the industry.

Ernest Jones President of the NUM officially opened Grassmoor Training Centre on 30th October 1957. 400 boys were to be trained every 16 weeks.


John N Booth (3108) succeeded John Brass as Production Manager in No1 Area at Bolsover, No1 Sub Area Manager, (John Brass was appointed General Manager No2 Area Wigan, with Jack G Belfitt (2265) as Production Manager): Jack A Tankard (3946)
No2 Sub Area, Arthur W Baddeley (2543); No3 Sub Area Ben Kendall (1944); No4 Sub Area JS Rayner (3077).  Later in 1953, No3 Sub Area, George P Thompson (2914) and No4 Sub Area Ben Kendall (1944).

John T Rice (816) succeeded Edwin W Lane (856) as Production Manager in No3 Area at Edwinstowe; No1 Sub Area: Alf E Naylor (1928); No2 Sub Area George H Keverne (3333); No3 Sub Area Peter L Richardson (3242) (replaced by Charlie W Ringham (2199) in 1953).

F Donald Severn (977) succeeded David M Rees (2780) as Area General Manager No4 Area at Huthwaite; Dan J Skidmore (3167) succeeded as Production Manager; No1 Sub Area George Inverarity (2666); No2 Sub Area Jack L Merry (542); No3 Sub Area Alex L Middleton (3342); No4 Sub Area Alf Maddox (2385).

Arden A Bowker (2736) Production Manager at No6 Area Bestwood succeeded Jack L Westwood (1543) as Area General Manager at No5 Area HQ Eastwood. William Unsworth (2391) succeeded Jim Smillie (2828) as Production Manager.  P Cliff Parry (4149) succeeded Ed W Potts (2131) as No1 Sub Area Manager, Jim William Crossland (3610) for Jack G Belfitt (2265) at No2 Sub Area and Tommy Wright (3048) for Jack H Pedley (2182) at No3 Sub Area.  In 1953 Arden A Bowker (2736) transferred to No3 Area General Manager and William Unsworth (2391) succeeded to No5 Area with Norman Siddall (3655) as Production Manager at No6 Area HQ.

At No6 Area HQ, William Sharpe (2223) succeeded as No1 Sub Area Manager; No2 Sub Area Mike H Young (son of Sir Eric Young); No3 Sub Area Charlie Round (2996).

Jack EM Chapman (1734) succeeded as Sub-Area Manager in South Derbyshire.

Old Mines

Ripley Spelter colliery, depth 20 yards had been abandoned in 1877
other pits nearby were:-

  • New Foundation (app 438490, 351150)
  • Pentrich (app 439372, 351827)
  • Ripley (440437, 349975) 3 shafts
  • Denby Hall (439731, 348279)
  • Butterley Park shaft (441838, 351317) 169 yards (154.5m) Piper, Low Main, Threequarter
  • Western shaft (441549, 351793) Low Main, Threequarter
  • Redgates Foundation (443900, 351100 app) 75 yards (68.6m) to Low Main
  • Lane pit (443850, 351250 app)
  • Hope pit (443920, 351150 app)

Opencast Sites

  • Aintree Flockton, Deep Soft 25th Mar
  • Bagshaw, Sough, Furnace, High Hazel, all good seams low in ash, Mar 1951 – Oct 1952
  • Brimington Deep Soft or Sitwell seam
  • Gildage Forge 1st Piper, 26th Sep
  • Hunloke Arms Deep Soft, 14/10/1952
  • Junction Deep Hard, Piper and Deep Soft
  • Pen site, Low Main 4 feet (1.22m) and Threequarter 2 feet (0.61m), interval 15’ 6” (4.72m), 19/6/1952
  • Purdy House site Coombs and Top Hard
  • The Silverhill opencast site was completed.  Several old artefacts, a candle and a skeleton of a donkey were found when ancient workings in Top Hard were exposed
  • Station Dunsil, 12/12/1952
  • Thorntree Inn Nether Main, Little, 28/1/1952
  • Tupton Hall Deep Hard seam, 3/4/1952.

The London Smog

The great smog of London began on 5th December 1952 and lasted several days killing thousands of people, estimated at 12,000. The thick horrible grimy atmosphere choked the population and animals. People were advised to go out only if necessary and to cover their mouths and nose with handkerchiefs. It was what they called a pea-souper but the worst on record since the start of these swirling fogs in Napoleonic times. As the city had grown, so had the number of domestic coal fires (because everybody had a coal fire for heating and cooking as there was hardly any central heating like today) plus industry and power stations and ships on the River Thames using coal. During that week buses and trams could not run as soot stuck to the windscreens making it difficult to see even with the conductors walking in front trying to guide the drivers but it was practically impossible. It was calculated that every day 1,000 tons of smoke belched from London’s chimneys, emitting 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 140 tons of hydrochloric acid and 14 tons of fluorine compounds and also 800 tons of sulphur dioxide from the chimneys mixing with the moisture in the air. This was the killer, causing inflammation in the lungs and the acid burning the throat. (précis of article in Daily Mail).

This spelt the downfall of the coal industry particularly where poor quality or dirty coal was being mined as this appeared to be the chief culprit. (see 1956)

I Started Work, December 1952

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Pit Terminology - Glossary
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