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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947



1968 - Page   1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11     12  

1968 - Page 6

Merry Lees Drift Mine, (Leicestershire) Absorbed Into Desford

Merry Lees: (Desford Colliery Co Ltd) (Leicestershire): A drift mine sunk during the Second World War in 1941 to supplement production from neighbouring Desford colliery. The drifts were in the village of Merry Lees to the South East of Desford Colliery which lies to the South of Thornton, near Bagworth. A new fan drift was built in 1956. Modern materials handling system was implemented in 1958 using stackers. An underground deployment centre was in use in 1959. A canteen was opened in 1963.
A 3 rail manrider from the surface some 800 yards (730m) long at 1in4.6, A similar manrider 1,200 yards (1,100m) went inbye to the districts.

A Hunslet MT25 diesel 4 wheel drive free steered tyred Mines Tractor was introduced for supplies in 1964. It was 3’ wide x 9’ long x 3’ 5” high (0.9m x 2.74m x 1.04m) weighing 5,500 lbs (2.25 tons and capable of pulling several trailers and could be driven from either end. A garage for maintenance and filling up with diesel was made. It was found that laying weld mesh on the route of the tractor was better for adhesion on steep drifts up to 1in3 and also did not churn the floor up in certain areas and in other gates calcium chloride crystals were spread to attempt to form a better floor. The main gates were 11’ x 9’ arches splayed to 12’ (3.35m x 2.75m x 3.65m) and the supply gates 8’ x 8’ (2.44m x 2.44m), quite small compared to arches used at most other pits. However a cost comparison had been done against normal supply system of 35lb rails at 2’ (0.61m) gauge and haulages. 12 haulage engines at £650 an £1,150, 4,200 yards (3,840m) of rails and 5/8th rope £8,000, 30 tubs at £27 each was £810 and 20 dannies at £18 was £360, giving a total of £18,170, against 2 diesel vehicles, 6 trailers, 30 pallets and 30 dannies for a total cost of £11,000. Contamination of the air by diesel fumes was negligible.Of course other aspects such as passbyes in the gates and 2 garages etc were not included in the equation. However it was a requirement that everything complied with the Coal and Other Mines (Locomotives) Order 1956 and the Merry Lees Mine (Diesel Vehicles) Special Regulations 1964 were made.

In 1953 Merry Lees was amalgamated with Desford and called Desford Merry Lees. The two collieries were split again in 1957. An underground connection was made to Desford in 1966 and as the reserves at Merry Lees were limited it was absorbed into Desford and the Merry Lees part closed down in 1968.
Seams worked:

  • Main 1944
  • Nether Lount 1945-1952
  • Middle Lount 1947-1950
  • Yard 1947-1967
  • Lower Main 1957-1967.


  • 1942: Site work
  • 1943: developing
  • 1944: 36 Main, 25 s/f
  • 1945: 85 Nether Lount, 22 s/f
  • 1947: NCB No7 Area EMD: 236 Nether Lount, Middle Lount, Yard, 68 s/f
  • 1948
  • 236 ML, Y, 66 s/f
  • 1950: 379 NL, ML, Y, 139 s/f
  • 1951: 348 123 s/f
  • 1952: 375 High Main, NL, Y, 127 s/f
  • 1953: Desford

Merry Lees: manpower inc in

  • 1492 u/g, 390 s/f
  • 1957: 461 Lower Main, Yard, 70 s/f
  • 1958: 484 LM, Y, 113 s/f
  • 1960: 380 LM, Y, 94 s/f
  • 1961: 380 94
  • 1962: 372 LM, Y, 97 s/f
  • 1963: 355 LM, Y, 93 s/f
  • 1964: 357 LM, Y, 93 s/f
  • 1965: 317 LM, Y, 87 s/f
  • 1966: 281 LM, Y, 81 s/f
  • South Midlands Area: 1967: 281 Lower Main, Yard, 81 s/f
  • closed.


  • Arthur D Butterley 1944-1948
  • John J Torrance (2803) 1947- AGM
  • Harold Rutherford (3958) Sub-Area Manager 1956: Group Managers: Sam A McKee (3637) 1956
  • William C Statham (3660) 1957-1964
  • John H Northard (4954) 1964-1966
  • Harold E Taylor (5793) 1966-1968.


  • H Johnston (2289) 1944-1951
  • Jock R Gibson (4391) 1951-1953
  • Sam A McKee (3637) 1953-1956 for both
  • split, for Merry Lees Arthur Summers (4896) 1956-1960
  • Derek Smith (5445) 1961-1962
  • John A Pash (5758) 1962-1966
  • Jimmy C Baird (4780) 1966-1967
  • Reg Price (5134) 1967 Desford Merry Lees again: -1968, absorbed into Desford.


  • JH Mee (644 / 2) 1945-1955
  • A McDougall (3953) 1951-1953
  • A Hunter (3949) -1956
  • M Smith (3248) -1956
  • JT Anderson (4917) 1957-1962
  • Lionel Lees (7262) 1963-1964
  • Geoffrey Barnett 1963-1965 Temp Undermanager, then Afternoons (transferred to Rawdon)
  • Lol Newbold (5589) 1964-1966 (promoted to Deputy Manager)
  • Alf H Henson (5775) 1966-1968.


  • Ian Skelding (1101) 1940s
  • Roland Derek Taylor (3305) transferred to Nailstone.

Fatal Accidents Merry Lees: n/a

Family Ties With The Pit

Unusually there was a family named Dickens associated with the pit from its inception to its closure. William Dickens was a pony ganger 1966-1967. His father William Joseph Dickens was a ripper in headings from 1936-1968 and stayed on after the pit closed on salvage work till 1969. His Grandfather William Henry Dickens was a shaftsman from 1914-1943. His Great Grandad a colliery engine fitter from 1875 died at work on 2nd April 1909 aged 54. He was associated with the sinking in 1868. There cannot be many families with such a history at one colliery.

Colliery Bands

As with many collieries of the era a band was formed from the workforce and the Colliery companies were very keen on winning prizes when competing against other companies.

It was always said that a bandsman was never out of work and was almost always offered overtime and was well paid even when the pits were on short time.

Survey Network For Possible Emergency Boreholes

Throughout the year, Surveyors at all mines with workings up to 400 yards (365m) deep were obliged to set out a network of survey stations on the surface, that would enable an emergency borehole site to be set out quickly should an emergency arise, such as a major cave in, inrush of water etc. Some Teversal workings came into this category. A small diameter borehole could be drilled into live working areas where miners were trapped underground. Following communications contact and emergency food and water supplies being sent down the borehole, this would be followed up by a large diameter bore, sufficiently large enough for a specially designed man chamber to be lowered into the working to enable all the men to be brought out safely. This would only be used if it was impossible to get to the men by normal methods. The exercise was begun at the disaster site at Lofthouse, Yorkshire in 1973 where 7 men were engulfed by water and sludge from an old shaft, however when it was realised all were lost the exercise was abandoned. The emergency drilling rig etc was kept by Foraky at Colwick, Nottingham. This was a job not required at the very deep mines so in effect it was extra work. Yearly checks were made on the survey network stations – on a nice day, of course. This made up for the ‘extra work’.




Page 7

Pit Terminology - Glossary