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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

1968 1969 1970

  1971 - Page    1     2     3  

1971 - Page 1

Salaries at January 1971

Management and Technical Grades

Grade Minimum Maximum  
Senior M and T £3,900 £5,000 included Production Managers
M and T 1 £3,450 £4,350 included Colliery General Managers
M and T 2 £3,050 £3,850 included Managers
M and T 3 £2,650 £3,425 included Deputy Managers
M and T 4 £2,315 £3,050 included Undermanagers
M and T 5 £1,915 £2,630 included Surveyors
M and T 6 £1,675 £2,300 included Assistant Surveyors
M and T 7 £1,360 ££1,900 Junior posts


My Transfer To Ollerton

I was transferred from Teversal to Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) by Arthur Morley (1285), Area Surveyor. A lovely going away party was held for me at Teversal Welfare where a few Deputies and others I had made friends with over the years plus the Manager, Deputy Manager, Undermanager and Overmen, Electrical and Mechanical Engineer and of course the line lads attended. I was presented with a wrist watch by my boss Cheslaw Stasiewicz on behalf of the management team.

It was a great place to work at and I knew many of the men. Nobody ever bothered you. The management team were great. I left with a heavy heart.

Arthur Morley sent me to Ollerton to do a check survey for a huge closing traverse some 5½ miles from one end to the other at the closest point, including a sight of about 5m down steeply through a hole in an overcast wall. The whole survey was hinged on that length. Two headings were to be set out to drive from both ends. The previous survey had taken some 4 months with 2 or 3 shifts in the week and every weekend by the surveyors at Ollerton using the ‘old fashioned’ method of ‘bay levelling’ for the measurements and one or a maximum of 3 angles using the theodolite in a shift.

The system I had been used to for the last 12 years at least was by the catenary method. This is where a 50m steel band is suspended between a centre point on a dial tripod to another tripod in line from one survey station to another and then a tension of 20lbs exerted by a man at one end of the line and at the other end a man staked and held the band rigid. The system required a reading to be taken at each end by 2 others when the band was steady and the tension was on. 3 readings were taken at each end and the low reading end measurement was subtracted from the high reading and provided the 3 readings agreed to + or – 1mm that measurement was accepted and the band was pulled forward towards the next tripod point in line with the theodolite survey station. A vertical angle was measured with the dial to the points on the other 2 tripods, these were called ‘carrots’ and were made out of brass with a small cross on top which was the measuring point. Similarly the readings of the vertical angles was accepted to + or – 1 minute of arc, this being the lowest reading obtainable.

Surveyors in most of the old No4 Area pits were trained in this method so it was commonplace. The catenary system allowed the measurements to be done over rough ground and also above a pond of water in a big swilley we encountered because the steel band was suspended in the air above these obstacles. It even allowed us to hold up the measuring temporarily on 2 or 3 occasions to let the paddy or runs of material pass by. All that was necessary was to plumb a mark in the roof above the carrot, move the legs and replumb back again after the vehicles had passed.

The bay measuring system was painful in many cases as a line of measurement had to be built up with packers or wood etc and a levelling instrument and staff used to determine the dip or rise of the line of sight in the gate. The system using catenary was checked by measuring the lines in metres then using the other side of the double sided band to do a measurement in feet and inches. Before the calculations were done in metres the imperial lengths were converted to make sure that a gross error had not been made with the precise measuring. It worked splendidly.

The first shift was painful ever so because no one in the old No3 Area pits had ever used the catenary system and it was necessary on the first shift to educate everyone including 3 Group Surveyors who were part of the team. In fact there were too many people because the system could be done quite easily with 4 men. However on the first shift we only managed to measure just under ¾ of a mile and I had made a statement that the complete survey of measuring and angling to the 61 stations could be done in 10 shifts. I went home that night with grave doubts wondering whether we could achieve the goal I had set. All the top men from the Chief Surveyor down had assumed that it was an impossible task. Anyway next day now that the team were getting used to the system we measured about a mile. The day after a further mile and the third day another mile plus and the final day over 1½ miles to complete the job. The theodolite angling was done in 5 separate shifts in the next fortnight using one tripod and sighting with the theodolite, 2 angles on each face to a string behind a hand held screen of tracing paper at each theodolite station. A maximum spread of + or – 5 seconds of arc was accepted. I felt elated, I had achieved my goal. Everyone now from the powers that be at Area and pit level was delighted. I think they had had bets on that the job could not be done in the 10 shifts. But there was still an air of ... what if there is an error? Before I went home every day I calculated the measurements as there was a conversion factor and a ‘discrepancy’ factor for the sag in the band to take into consideration. On 16th October 1971 the headings thirled to ½“ in alignment and under 6” in distance. In surveying terms it was phenomenal.

I had many problems with lots of people when I first went to Ollerton but slowly I won them over to my ways. This particular exercise went a long way and a couple of adjustments that had caused major problems on belt conveyors and where I was able to advise a solution put the cherry on the cake. I was finally accepted into ‘Ollerton society’. I introduced many different ideas I had been used to and slowly put them into practice making the Survey department far more efficient than it had been in the past. Theodolite surveys and levellings plus dial surveys at the required distances in every gate were established as well as a simple system of catenary measuring up all the panel gates using the string system where a line of sight is taken from one theodolite station to another and a plumb line with a twist of wire adjusted to the line of sight and the catenary measuring done as before but not to carrots on dial legs. The vertical angle was the one measured when using the theodolite. The system is very quick and easy, saving many man hours of work and proved to be more accurate than ground taping. The credit for projecting the catenary idea to others in the Area must go to Charlie Shadbolt (2499) ex Surveyor at Annesley, Kirkby, No4 Area HQ at Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire, later NCB Subsidence Engineer and PhD. (see Ollerton closure Feb 1994)

Decimal Currency Introduced

From 15th February 1971 the British currency was decimalised, when £ s d was replaced by £ and p.

The old £1 had:-

  • 240 copper pennies
  • 20 silver shillings
  • 8 silver half crowns
  • 10 silver florins or 2 shilling pieces
  • Each penny had 2 copper half pennies (ha’pennies)
  • Each penny had four small round copper farthings (with a Wren design)
  • Each shilling had 2 round small silver six pence pieces or 4 three penny (thre’penny pieces or Joeys with octagonal edges, with a portcullis design)
  • Up to the 1930s there were also small round 3 penny silver coins
  • There were £5 (white notes, only printed on one side)
  • £1 notes (blue or green design)
  • 10 shilling notes (red rusty colour). The wording on the notes refers to promise to pay the bearer….
  • The gold sovereign had gone out of use in the 1920s, but is still used in jewellery items, similarly for the half sovereign. Many transactions up to the 1930s app were made in Guineas, which was £1 and 1shilling (£1.05). Strangely enough the sale of race horses is still quoted in guineas. Also many transactions were made quoting… £2-19s-11¾d, just a fraction under £3, but looking like a bargain!

The new currency has

  • 100 round small copper coloured new pence pieces in £1
  • 2 smaller round copper half pence pieces to one new penny (however these went out of circulation)
  • 2 silver coloured hexagonal 50 pence pieces (with several designs) to £1
  • 10 pence pieces, round silver coloured
  • Small round silver coloured 5 pence pieces
  • £1 a gold coloured round coin (with several designs, but no £1 notes)
  • £5 notes (design changes occasionally)
  • £10 notes (similar)
  • £20 notes
  • £50 notes (now rarely seen for normal transaction and these tended to go out of circulation due to problems of possible fraud and are generally only exchanged at the banks).
    Today many transactions quote for example, similar as above … £2.99, again looking like a bargain!

All currency has the head of the monarch on the obverse side, and the notes are numbered, have a watermark and strip of metal in the paper to guard against fraud. Still not foolproof! Some in circulation 2004/05. There are many thousands of counterfeit pound coins in circulation.

(In 2017 new £1 coins were introduced to counteract this. They had 12 edges and coloured gold on the outside with a silver inner, with a design on the front and the Queens head profile in the silver coulour on the obverse side. All the old £1 coins were taken out of use and after a period could only be exchanged at the bank for a new coin. Also new plasticised £5 notes, smaller than the paper ones were introduced and they had a clear window with a design in it. £10 notes of similar design and size were introduced later. These new notes are expected to last far longer than the previous paper notes as they are fairly strong and not easily creased. The paper £20 notes will be replaced also.)

4 Day Week At Stanton Ironworks

A drop in the demand for iron and concrete pipes led to an introduction of a 4 day week for workers at the giant Stanton Ironworks plant near Ilkeston. The plant was part of the Tubes Division of British Steel Corporation. This of course meant a drop in coal usage!

Pre 1947, Stanton Ironworks Co owned Silverhill, Teversal, Pleasley and Bilsthorpe pits as well as some smaller mines.
Demand for coke oven gas declined following the switch to natural gas, however a new outlet was found for the Avenue coking plant, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire where a 7 mile grid was installed leading to a glass works, chemical factory and foundries. Coal from the local pits was used at the plant.

Products From Coal

Many products (over 400) could be manufactured from the local coal, such as:-

  • Benzole - xylenes, rubber chemicals, printing ink solvents, paint solvents.
  • Tolueneline - give dyes, explosives, paint solvents and saccharine.
  • Benzene - aniline dyes, photo chemicals, plastics and nylon.
  • Sulphuric acid - ammonium sulphate, battery electrolyte and galvanising.
  • Ammonia - wool scouring, ammonia, detergents, explosives and also ammonium sulphate.
  • Tar - Anthracine oil, giving road tar, timber preservatives, dyes, liquid fuels, pitch for roofing, roof tar, tar paints, electrodes, smokeless fuel briquettes, damp course, and then Light oils, brake linings, linoleum and photo chemicals
  • Naphthalene oil - dyes, mothballs, plastics, antiseptics and disinfectants.
  • Carbolic oil - plastics, antiseptics, fruit tree sprays, adhesive and disinfectants.
  • At the Staveley Chemicals Ltd plant, crude Benzole from the coking plants was refined.
    Virtually the list is endless and probably the worst thing we can do with coal is burn it in a grate!


Westthorpe colliery (Derbyshire) highest ever output, 613,519 tons for 1970-1971.

At Pleasley (North Derbyshire) the tonnage had dropped alarmingly to 253,076 tonnes for the year, produced by 559 men underground and 207 on the surface. The Piper seam was developed further.


More ‘Gypsies’ were drafted into the ‘long life pits’. These were men that were moved several times from one pit to another as each one closed.


In North Nottinghamshire Area there were 51 handfilled Main gate ends and 3 advanced heads. At the Supply gate end 23 were handfilled, 24 had BJD shearers, 4 had B51 shearers and 4 had Planning machines (including Ollerton).


Ellistown in Leicestershire, sunk in 1873/76 was merged with Bagworth colliery in 1971.

Output 1970-1971

  • 9,776,854 tons was produced by 14,730 men (14,168 in Sep) in North Derbyshire pits at an OMS of 60.9 cwts
  • 10,555,402 tons by 16,614 men (16,544 in Sep) at an OMS of 57.3 cwts in South Nottinghamshire
  • 12,069,617 tons at an OMS of 60.8 cwts by 18,288 men (18,905 in Sep) in North Nottinghamshire
  • 8,860,000 tons app, with 13,092 men at OMS of 58.8 cwts in South Midlands Area.

Skip winding was introduced at quite a few collieries replacing the old tub or mine car systems. In North Nottinghamshire Area, plans were ahead to create more streamlined manriding to get miners to coal faces more quickly, thereby thousands of extra tons of coal each day would be produced.


Shotfiring was another job I assisted with, designing relatively simple shotfiring patterns for development headings at Teversal and Ollerton (Nottinghamshire). I suppose thinking back that I was trusted by the respective Managers (George Noble 1960-1971, Dave Rodden 1971-1972 and Walter Standage 1973-1986) with the task, having passed the Shotfirer’s and Deputy’s certificates. Anyway there were never any ‘cock ups’…..lucky? The more intricate delayed action patterns were sorted out with assistance from Safety Officer Jack Truswell at Teversal -1970 and later at Ollerton by Safety Officers Jimmy Pickering and Safety Engineers Sam Coles, David Lawson, Ken Greaves 1971-1986 and of course on occasions when a better ‘pull’ was required, by the local ICI Representatives for the area Bob Smith, John Wilson and Colin Wynne, called in when difficult or strong strata was encountered who would advise on the amount and type of explosive to get the best results, particularly when using milli-second delayed action. When visiting the mine on routine visits these representatives would always call in at the Survey office to see me for a cup of tea and a chat. Coloured copies of the pattern were always supplied to the relevant Deputy.

Oxcroft Conditions

At Oxcroft (North Derbyshire) the first retreat face was commissioned due to the limit of working being hampered by water and adverse geological conditions. The water ingress occurred where panels approached to within 150m of the surface as the ground had been strongly disturbed by ice age events and had poor coherence.

Protection Area

A necessary pillar of coal as a protection area for Sutton Idlewells shopping area was agreed between SUDC and the NCB.