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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1954    1    2 

1954 - Page 1

Harsh Wintry Weather

Wintry weather gripped Britain and was particularly harsh in Derbyshire during January 1954.  There were now 62 pit head baths in the East Midlands Division.

Stanley Room And Pillar

The Low Main seam 3’ 6” (1.07m) thick was abandoned at Stanley (Derbyshire) in January.  Room and pillar working had been carried out from 1949-1953 due to the close proximity to the surface.

Fire At Working Mens' Club

The Working Mens’ Club at Temple Normanton (Derbyshire)  was wrecked by fire on14/2/1954.

Auger AB Double Ended Trepanner
Double Ended Trepanner At Ormonde

At Ormonde (Derbyshire) on 29th May 1954, an auger AB Double-ended Trepanner with chain haulage and hydraulic tensioning was installed on a Low Main face with Seaman (Gullick) and Dowty chocks for support on the face line.

Dowty Hydraulic Props At Ollerton

Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) was the first to try Dowty hydraulic props and 35 were installed at a Loader Gate end in the Top Hard seam.

National Day-Wage Agreement

Day-wage men whose wages had previously been determined by districts were assimilated to a National day-wage agreement providing fixed, not minimum rates - 8s 6d (42½p) for underground and 7s 6d (37½p) for surface, per shift.  The new National minimum rates were increased by 1s 5d (7p) a shift for underground, giving £7 15s 0d (£7.75) a week and by 1s 3d (6¼p) a shift for surface rates giving £6 15s 0d (£6.75) per week.

HM Inspectorate

In February 1954 there was a series of visits by HM Inspectors of Mines to Bilsthorpe colliery (Nottinghamshire), beginning 9/2/1954 with an office visit to see the Manager by Messrs Jenkins, Frank Bishop and  George Nussey, also an office visit on 12/2/1954 underground visit by Mr C William Percival to 21s Top Hard panel.

On 19/2/1954 underground visit by Mr Bob Ridsdale to 69s Low Main panel. 

On 26/2/1954 underground visit by Dr Winstanley to 67s Low Main panel accompanied by Mr Browne and Mr Geo Nussey. Reason ???

Portland Pits

The old shafts at Portland No1 and No3 (Nottinghamshire) below Portland farm were filled on 20th April 1954.

At Lower Portland there was a blast furnace in 1770.  Ironstone was found in the fields opposite Portland No1 and a tramway was built from the ironstone pits direct to the furnace. 

No1 and No2 shafts sunk in 1820/1821 and No3 pumping shaft sunk about 20 yards (18m) from No1 had a large Cornish beam engine with a stroke of 10 feet (3m) 84” (2.13m) bore and 12 feet (3.65m) long. The engine worked at 120lb steam pressure with 3 Cornish type boilers with Butterley fireboxes. 

No2 (Jerry) pit was 200 yards (180m) deep. The shaft was being widened at about 130 yards (120m) down when the weight on the scaffold became too great, and several men fell off to 70 yards (65m) deeper on 6th June 1879.  2 men were killed whilst another only broke an ankle. 

Another sinker fell on 15th Nov 1879 only a distance of 10 yards (9m) but died from his injuries on 23rd Nov.

The No1 and No2 pits thurled on 17th Jan 1880No1 pit (Isaiahs) (Rigley) coal was then turned at No2 pit (Jerrys) (Lowe) from 24th Feb 1880.  On Saturday 20th Jan 1883 a piece of the flange broke on No2 winder. It was a non-condensing type with only one rope and another smaller diameter drum with chain suspended to heavy weights assisted it to lift out of balance. The chain unwound as the rope went down the shaft and the reversed and wound back onto the drum to assist the steam engine and brake when nearing the pit bottom. 

Butterley Co installed 2 vertical marine engines on 17th Dec 1885 and these worked until 1916 when they were taken to Kirkby for deepening No2 shaft.  Portland No2 and No4 pits thurled on 20th March 1880.  There was an underground furnace originally but later a steam fan was erected at No4, but it was deemed too small.  No1 shaft was filled in 1900 and widened to 12 feet (3.65m) dia.  3 Galloway boilers and a new 100 feet (30m) high chimney was built along with a new 22 feet (6.7m) dia Waddle fan at No2, and there were 2 x 40Kw dynamos at 250v DC. At No4 there was a large direct driven beam engine.  There were steam pipes down the shaft to an underground endless haulage.  There was a single deck cage holding one tram with a water barrel slung underneath.  No2 and 6 pits closed in the 1890s.

Pithead Baths

A new canteen was built at Pilsley colliery (Derbyshire).  The Deep Hard seam had been abandoned in 1949 and the Tupton seam in 1950.  Pithead baths were opened at Holmewood on 14/6/1954, at Ramcroft on 18/9/1954 and at Pilsley (Derbyshire)  on 2/10/1954.

Meco-Moore at Linby

At Linby (Nottinghamshire) Meco Moore cutter loaders were introduced along with the first manriding facilities in 1954.  The following year an armoured face conveyor was introduced in conjunction with a swan-necked jib cutter, the coal still being hand filled.

Roadway Dust Suppression

Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) was one of the first pits where salt/sodium chloride crystals were spread to suppress roadway coal dust. 

Dump Trucks At Arkwright

Arkwright colliery (Derbyshire)  was one of the first to use dump trucks on the tip for dirt disposal.

Warsop Reconstruction

A major reconstruction at Warsop (Nottinghamshire) then in NCB EMD No3 Area culminated in twin tower mounted friction winders.  The two 19ft (5.8m) dia shafts were sunk by the Staveley Coal & Iron Co to 529 yards (484m) in 1893. A connection was made between Warsop and Clipstone at the Top Hard horizon as an emergency exit to allow the reconstruction at Warsop shafts to continue.

Warsop after reorganisationBretby

At Bretby, South Derbyshire, a new Central Engineering establishment was being built. Many inventions and tests would be carried out there.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1954

Springfield Drift mine at the bottom of the incline from Alma to Clay Cross station (Derbyshire)  was commenced in 1954, with 2 drifts being sunk to the Deep Soft seam by Firthwood Collieries Ltd of Sheffield, under license from the NCB.  Coal had been worked nearby in 1926

Southgate colliery (Derbyshire)  pit bottom and roadways were cleaned up in readiness for a connection to be made to Creswell workings, however the scheme was scrapped later and did not materialise.  Shaft position SK47NE, 449370, 375900. This pit had been flooded in 1929 and abandoned.

Stretton Drift Mine at Straw Lane. (Derbyshire)  The Deep Hard seam accessed by steep adits Sep 1954. No1 Adit 439951, 361799, No2 Adit 440084, 361843. This was another mine run by Horace Taylor of Whatstandwell and was operated using Siskol cutters in room and pillar work laterally off a dipping main road set on approx 6 ft x 6 ft (1.83 x 1.83m) arches. New screens, hoppers and conveyors were installed. Pumping was necessary as at all of these adit mines due to water running down the drift or percolating in from the surface due to the shallowness of the workings.

Hucknall No1 colliery No2 shaft sunk in 1870, deepened 143 yards (131m) from Top Hard to Deep Soft at 553 yards (506m) was renamed No7 shaft for Babbington (Nottinghamshire) sunk / deepened old shaft to new horizon for ventilation and manriding for men from Babbington Deep Soft workings transported from Babbington pithead baths by bus there and back

At the new Bevercotes mine (Nottinghamshire) – preparation work was in hand.

Closures 1954

Amberley Farm (Derbyshire)  (H & C Hartshorne) Kilburn 3’ 5” (1.04m), Adit and Air pit, uneconomical due to flooding, dip 1in 3.5, Dec,
Manager: C Hartshorne, Surveyor: Richard Robb (2539). 

Amberley Valley opencast working (Derbyshire)  revealed numerous bell pits near the outcrop of the Kilburn seam.

Riley Lane No1 (H & C Hartshorne) (Derbyshire)  Low Main 3’ 8” (1.12m), 2 adits, air shaft 33’ 8” (10m) deep, 1in 4½ dip,
Manager C Hartshorne, exhausted due to old workings from Speedwell 1868, Pentrich 1939 and Wingfield 1954 surrounding the mine.

Trowell Moor Colliery Closed

Trowell Moor (Nottinghamshire) (Dunn Bros).  The mine was kept open for pumping to protect the neighbouring pits. This was an area where mining had been carried out for centuries.

Seams worked Alton, discontinued 29th Sep 1928. The headgear was changed from pitch pine wood to steel construction in 1925. Pumping only was continued from 1929 with 2 to 4 men underground and 4 or 5 on the surface until 1954.
Agents: A Hewlett (2505); Jack H Pedley (2182).
Managers for Trowell: Chas Houston (4043), also for Cossall; John Dow (3090).
Undermanager: WW Bennett (2nd) 1947-1951; Charlie W Dickens (4208) 1952-1953.
Surveyors: as for Cossall.

Coal Was King And There Was Pride At Nottinghamshire Pits

AFTER the nationalisation of the coal industry, there was a programme set out for more new collieries and in 1954 HRH Princess Margaret turned over the first "sod of earth" at Cotgrave, in the inauguration ceremony for the start of the sinking, and then went on to Calverton (Nottinghamshire) for her first ever visit underground on 7th April 1954. The first National Coal Board employees started soon after, mainly craftsmen doing surface preparatory work.

Following the visit, from 9th to 12th April there was a strike at Calverton by 40 colliers, over unsatisfactory conditions and unfair payments.

Back at Cotgrave, one month after the visit John Wilkinson, of Orston, joined two fitters to install the two Lancashire boilers that would raise the steam for the engines which were to be used for sinking both 24-foot diameter shafts to a depth of 1,658 feet.

The first major work at Calverton was to freeze the ground around the proposed shaft areas. The reason for this was that Nottingham and its surrounding area stands on 600 feet of water-bearing strata.

The work was done by the Belgium firm of Foraky's, which operated from Colwick, and without this the excavations could have collapsed before reaching the two coal seams.

All the real work started in late 1956. Unfortunately, after just two years there was a fracture within the concrete lining and water simply poured into the shafts and, at one time, it was touch and go – "could the pit be saved?" It was saved.
The two permanent 166-foot towers and their electrical winding engines were installed and the five working coal faces were ready for production.

The colliery had by now just over 1,750 men on the books from many parts of the country. In January 1964 the first coal reached the surface, and then it was washed and transported by rail to Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

Although many times the workings were interrupted by faulted ground similar to those experienced at Clifton, the pit still did really well.

John remembered in late December of 1969, the manager told him the colliery had produced its first million tons of coal in a calendar year. At that time he had reached the position of being the colliery mechanical engineer and was extremely proud of that achievement.

After the two national strikes, the "political" decision was made to shrink the industry and in 1993 it led to the colliery's closure.

By this time he had retired from Edwinstowe HQ and nothing was going to stop him from standing at the pit entrance to see the last shift leave.

How sad that day was, and to think that one of the country's natural resources was to be left unused.

John had been lucky enough to be involved with and see that sludgy old field converted into a million ton pit, and what a wonderful experience it had all been.

Would he have changed anything that he had done?
Never, no never.

Underground Fire at Linby

On 1st May 1954 there was an underground fire at Linby (Nottinghamshire) and two districts had to be sealed off, seriously hampering production.

Koepe Winding

In June 1954 there was a first equals in the country with the introduction of Tower mounted Koepe multi-rope (4) winding at Rufford (Nottinghamshire).  The other was in Kent.

New Retorts At Bolsover

Coalite and Chemical Products Ltd was to build 3 new batteries of retorts at Bolsover (Derbyshire).

Hufton And Flint Families

A family named Hufton were working in the Deep Soft seam at Annesley (Nottinghamshire). There were 9 brothers, Jack Jnr, Cyril, Rex, Arthur, William (Bill), Ron, Ivan, Sam, Roy and their father Jack and similarly at New Langley (Derbyshire)  a family named Flint had a father and 5 sons working underground. 

Rationing Finally Ended After 9 Years

On 3rd July 1954 all remaining foods were now off ration - butter, fats, bacon and meat.  It seems incredible now that we had to wait for 9 years after the Second World War had finished before we could buy what we wanted. Even then it was a case of finding the shop that had been supplied with the goods in quantity. Who won the War?

Mines and Quarries Act 1954

The Mines and Quarries Act 1954 was passed in Parliament but would not be enacted until January 1957, as there were many radical changes to comply with, and it was realised that it was necessary to allow many of the changes to be brought in steadily, otherwise I think, most of the pits would have had to close down, because of circumstances, such as equipment etc which was not readily available at the time. Legislation also dealt with the health and safety and welfare of all workers in the industry.

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