- Nationalisation -
From 1st January 1947 all the large mines in the country were Nationalised and the 120 mines in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire came under the East Midlands Division Headquarters Board of the National Coal Board, based at Sherwood Lodge, near Arnold.
This Board was responsible to London HQ and also had a Chairman Lord Hyndley 1947-1952. Sir Hubert S Houldsworth would replace him from 1952-1956.
The next stage down was Area Headquarters scattered throughout the coalfield. Sub-Areas, where officials in all disciplines oversaw the running of a group of the individual pits run by Managers, supplemented these and were similarly scattered throughout the Areas.
In the East Midlands the Board also took over the running of 5 major coking plants, 6 water works, 2 pipeworks,18,350 houses, 12 brickworks, 112 farms and 14,300 acres of land.
Operating Areas throughout the UK: 1946/1947
|| Annual output 21.9 m tons
||34.0 m tons
||37.4 m tons
||12.6 m tons
||32.6 m tons
||16.1 m tons
||21.8 m tons
||1.3 m tons
Throughout the country there was a total of 48 Areas, 980 collieries with a total annual output of 177.7 m tons, 800 different Companies, some with iron and steel interests, 1,049 collieries employing 700,000 men and boys and 21,000 pit ponies. There were 30 fuel manufacturing plants, 55 coke ovens and by-product plants, 85 brick and pipe works, 225,000 acres of farmland, 140,000 miners’ houses. Other assets were shops, offices, hotels, swimming baths, coal wharves, coal sales depots, milk rounds, a holiday camp and a cycle track. Many of the non-mining assets were sold off. However by the end of 1950 the NCB still did not know the extent of its assets. It inherited an incoherent wage structure which varied from region to region and pit to pit.
Some smaller mines with a maximum of 30 men underground were still managed by private individuals or companies under licence from the NCB. These would continue as before but would soon find competition too great and many soon closed. By 1948 in the East Midlands Division there would be 89 NCB pits and 13 small mines.
Clement Attlee (left) continued (since 1945) as Prime Minister (Labour) to 10 Oct 1951.
From 1st January 1947 the familiar blue and white flag was flown from flagpoles on offices and headgears of most of the 1,000 pits throughout the country.
Many collieries had a small inaugural ceremony to hoist the flag with the famous statement “This colliery is now owned by the people, worked by the people on behalf of the people” or as above.
Emmanuel (Manny) Shinwell, Minister of Fuel attended one such ceremony on behalf of the Government. This heralded the change of ownership. The Labour Party tried to convince the miners’ leaders that after struggling for generations under terrible conditions the new deal would put an end to it. The hated capitalist colliery owners (800+) with their Directors had been bought out by the Government, but many of the miners were suspicious of their ‘new bosses’ because practically all of the mines were managed by the same people as before!
The promised 5-day week was not possible because of the need to produce coal as a crisis loomed, particularly due to vanishing exports. Absenteeism continued to be a big factor.
The amount paid to the coal owners in compensation was £388,000,000 and the Government was saddled with that debt for many years. However money seemed to be no object to the new NCB as hundreds of new reorganisation plans were ‘dreamed up . These were to make pits efficient and more productive and 101 antiquated or inefficient mines were closed between 1947 and 1951 by the Labour Government with Clement Attlee as Prime Minister (1945-1951).
The Coalfields were grouped into 48 Areas. Difficulties found, were the lack of suitable accommodation and suitable qualified personnel. Many pits in the region were understaffed and there was a need to increase coal production. The Government agreed that mineworkers were not to be called up for military service.
Mines Rescue Service
The Mines Rescue Service administration was brought into line with the operating Divisions of the NCB and each Station to have its own Superintendent.
Miners’ Welfare Commission
The Miners’ Welfare Commission, providing welfare facilities prior to nationalisation was authorised to act as Agents for the Board. The Board took over the Staff College at Nuneaton, established in 1946 by the Minister of Fuel and Power. A Chief Medical Officer was appointed when it was decided that a comprehensive health service was to be created. Odd colliery companies had similar things in the past, but that was mainly to get men back to work quicker, or to denounce any illness in the first place caused by the working of coal. There was a solarium at Silverhill for use by miners there and at neighbouring Teversal, Stanton Company pits, when it was thought that ‘false sunlight’ would benefit them, being underground so long and never seeing daylight.
Battery Cap Lamps
Around this time or just prior to or after nationalisation at some companies, cap lamps with a much better brighter light, powered by batteries carried one’s belt were issued at many pits to replace the hand held ones that were heavy and clumsy and with poor illumination.
Sub-Area Managers were appointed to run a group of pits and generally were based at outstations, reporting to Area HQ office
Every mine now had to have a separate Manager unless they were no more than 2 miles apart and qualified Surveyors were appointed to each unit where possible. Sub-Area Surveyors were appointed to oversee units where uncertificated Surveyors were ‘in charge’ until they passed their final written and practical exam and also certificated Surveyors were supervised until they had completed the required 3 years post-certificate experience. Colliery Companies previously had a Chief Surveyor who had assistants, and he was responsible for all surveying activities and plans at their mines. Many of these were appointed Area Chief Surveyors in the new Areas. By law now a mine could not be run without a Manager for a period of more than 72 days, and could not be run without a Surveyor for a period of more than 28 days!
At the start of a new mine the Surveyor is one of the first to be appointed as it is he who sets out the shaft positions, establishes the centre plumb lines and monitors the progress of sinking, checks and records the strata sunk through and also sets out the proposed underground roadways and maintains the direction and also sets out the surface buildings etc. At the closure of a mine it is the Surveyor who plots the stopping positions etc and monitors the shaft filling and capping etc, and the demolition of buildings etc. The Surveyor also has to finalise the mine plans, and arrange for the deposition of same at the Mines Records Office after consultation with one of the Mines Inspectors, along with an abandonment report for the seam or seams. As each seam is abandoned a plan and report is duly sent in as above. It is the Surveyor who has to decide which other plans, books etc have to be kept and deposited along with the survey note books and calculations when the mine is closed and which are to be destroyed. It can be a very time consuming job but needs to be done thoroughly, because once destroyed there is no recovery.
This was the ‘sorting out’ period and as will be seen several changes were made, the closure of some pits and particularly with the closure of one local East Midlands Area, No2 within 2 years, the collieries being absorbed by No1, No3 and No4 Areas and the swapping of some pits from one Area to another and the amalgamation of No 7 and No 8 Areas into one Area. Also it was the period of setting people on to fill the ‘new jobs’.
The Government of the day ‘listened’ to the Fleck report later in 1957. Unfortunately as usual with such studies, not all circumstances are taken into consideration, and far too many people were set on for certain managerial positions (30,000+ in 1947 to 57,000 in 1957) or were in posts that were soon to be lost as pits began to be closed.
Many Technical Colleges and Universities around the country ran new courses for mining students, to progress forward for Managers’, Undermanagers’ and Surveyors’ certificates as well as in Engineering positions for Mechanical and Electrical and Clerical positions. Many of the people set on just before or soon after Nationalisation who passed their examinations were fortunate to be placed into statutory positions immediately, whereas the ones about 5 years or so behind them would find great difficulty in getting a ‘top’ job (as illustrated by the certificate numbers).
The Reid Report
An exhaustive examination of the industry was prepared, known as the Reid Report, which found that in effect the industry was bankrupt and had underground transport problems as well as the lack of training in the use of the latest mechanised systems that were being introduced.
As in the past with the private companies, barriers were left between pits. However now they were also left between the separate Areas and duly agreed and dated and now the emphasis was put on safety sooner than royalty.
Number Of Collieries And Manpower
There were 958 ‘big’ pits in the UK employing 704,000 men and boys with an output per man per year of 267 tons. A wage increase for the lowest paid was agreed both for surface and underground men.
East Midlands Division Of The NCB
Divisional HQ at Sherwood Lodge, Arnold. Chairman Sir Hubert Houldsworth, Production Director Rex Ringham. Labour Director Harry Hicken. Surveyor and Minerals Manager Cyril North (105), and Harry C Ward from Yorkshire and previously N H and B Colliery Co Surveyor was Assistant Divisional Surveyor.
Mines operating in Derbyshire in No1 Area of the NCB East Midlands Division 1947 with HQ based at Bolsover. Area General Manager W Vic Shepherd (2853) (1947-1949), Production Manager WES Peach (later Production Manager No1 South Wales) and Sub-Area Manager H Kirk (1511) and one vacant position. (17).
Total output 4.7m tons. Surveyor, George Wilfred Fox (796) (ex Clay Cross Co).
- Arkwright: Agent Ben Kendall (1944), Manager Alf W Gray (4013), with 295 men in Top Hard seam and 70 on surface. (ex-Arkwright Coal Co Ltd). Output: 157,520 tons for the year.
- Bolsover: Agent Len Gross (2351), Manager Geo Bishop (3009), Undermanager J Webster (1386), 1,158 in Deep Hard seam and 356 on surface. (ex-Bolsover Colliery Co Ltd). Output: 569,026 tons.
- Bond’s Main: Agent GF Gardner (1333), Manager W Marsh (1657), U/m Geo H Anthony (2nd), 352 in Deep Hard and Tupton seams and 95 surface men. (ex-Clay Cross Co Ltd).
- Campbell and Hartington, Ireland and Calow Drift: (ex-Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd). Agent Ben Kendall (1944), U/m T Wallace (2nd). 985 men in Deep Soft seam and 345 on surface, the highest-ever manpower. Output: 446,292 tons.
- Parkhouse, Clay Cross Nos 2 (ex-Clay Cross Co Ltd). Output: 281,161 tons, and No7: Agent GF Gardner (1333), Manager Sid C Carter (2979), U/m Fred Brown (2nd), 582 in Tupton seam and 140 on surface.
- Grassmoor Nos 1,4 and 12: Agent John N Booth (3108), Manager RH Swallow (2557), U/ms J Gillespie (2090), CE Staples (2nd), RMPC Ballantyne (2nd) and T Grassick (2nd), 1,208 in Piper, Silkstone, Tupton, Threequarter and Second Waterloo seams and 424 on surface. (ex-Grassmoor Co Ltd). Output: 468,885 tons.
- Holbrook No2 (Norwood): discontinued June 1943. Flockton seam, Agent: Ben Kendall (1944), Manager George Walker (3903). Holbrook No3 discontinued February 1944, Flockton seam.
- Holmewood No2, Agent John N Booth (3108), Manager Sam B Pick (1149), U/m H Lowe (2nd), 560 men in Tupton and Threequarter seams and 263 on surface. Output: 289,289 tons. Before closure of No3, 906 men u/g and 300 s/f. The colliery was in No3 Group.
- Holmewood No3 abandoned Ell seam, April 1947. (ex-Hardwick Colliery Co Ltd).
- Markham No1 Blackshale: Agent Len Gross (2351), Manager A Belfitt (3052), U/m Jack Ridgeway (2nd), 612 in Blackshale and 162 on surface. Output: 246,517 tons.
- Markham No2 Ell: Manager Harry Wright (3911), U/m Eric Dobb (4407), 746 and 226 on surface. 317,437 tons.
- Markham No4 Deep Hard: Manager Roland Weekley (3988), U/m Brian Parry (3119 ?), 748 and 233 surface men. (All ex-Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd). Output: 355,886 tons. Total manpower for Markham 2,091men underground / 618 surface.
- Manton colliery at Worksop (Nottinghamshire) was transferred to the North Eastern Division from 10th March 1947. (ex-Wigan Coal Co). Manager F Sharpe (2814), Undermanager GH Taylor (2nd).
- Morton No5: Agent GF Gardner (1333), Manager I Jackson (1975), U/m Eric Hall (2nd), 651 in Threequarters and Tupton seams and 168 on surface.
- Morton No6 nil u/g, and 1 man on surface. (ex-Clay Cross Co Ltd.) Output: 281,284 tons.
- Oxcroft (formerly Oxcroft Nos 1,3 and 5): Agent GF Gardner (1333), Manager Harry Jones (3630), High Hazel seam, 348 and 79.
- Pilsley Nos 2,3: Agent GF Gardner (1333), Manager Wm H Southern (2602), U/m EC Prince (2nd), 500 in Yard, Tupton, Tupton Threequarters or Low Main seams, 176 on surface. (ex-Pilsley Colliery Co Ltd). Output: 201,414 tons. The Deep Hard seam was finished, coal section: tops 8” (0.20m), hards 11” (0.28m), bottoms 1’ 9” (0.53m).
- Ramcroft: Agent John N Booth (3108), Manager F Ford (3979), U/m D Smith (2nd), 270 in First Waterloo seam and 94 on surface. (ex-Hardwick Colliery Co Ltd). Output: 159,218 tons.
- Renishaw Park: Agent Ben Kendall (1944), Manager RJ Detchon (1771), U/m F Marsden (2nd), 395 in Deep Soft seam and 139 on surface. (ex-Furnace Hill Colliery Co). Output: 167,648 tons.
- Westthorpe: Agent Ben Kendall (1944), Manager Geo Walker (3903), U/m AH Jackson (2nd), 804 in Flockton seams and 229 on surface, transferred from North East Division on 17th March 1947. (ex-J and G Wells) Output: 351,334 tons.
- Williamthorpe: Agent John N Booth (3108), Manager A McNeish (1653), U/m John Hanson (4357), 817 in Deep Hard, Tupton and Threequarters seams and 242 on surface. (ex-Hardwick Colliery Co Ltd). Output 361,052 tons.
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire pits in No2 Area, 1947 with HQ based at Welbeck Estate Office,
Mansfield Woodhouse (to 1949). Area General Manager: Norman D Todd (3058)
Production Manager: John Brass (Area Production Manager No1 Area 1949, later General Manager No2 Wigan, North West, General Manager Manchester Area, Production Director Northern (N and C) Division, Chairman West Midlands Division, Regional Chairman North West and Yorks Division 1967)
Sub-Area Managers: Jack A Tankard (3946), W Gray BSc and Alf E Naylor (1928). (10) Total output 4.9m tons.
- Creswell (Derbyshire): Agent Alf E Naylor (1928), Manager George Inverarity (2666) (later Area Production Manager), U/m Tom M Cope (4164), with 1,214 men in High Hazel seam and 380 on surface. (ex-Bolsover Colliery Co Ltd). Output: 717,499 tons.
- Glapwell No1 and 3 (Derbyshire): Agent Jack A Tankard (3946), Manager, George Bunting (1057), U/m No1 R Wilson (2nd), 1,240 in Low Main and 393 surface and No3 HR Clark (1129), 1,132 in Waterloo seam and 316 on surface. (ex-SheepbridgeCoal and Iron Co Ltd). Output: 962,185 tons. Total manpower for Glapwell 2,372 / 709.
- Langwith (Derbyshire): Agent Jack A Tankard (3946), Manager Arthur W Baddeley (2543), U/m J Wallace (2nd), 1,027 in High Main seam and 362 surface men and boys. (ex-Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co Ltd). Maximum manpower ever was 1,389. Output: 545,927 tons.
- Pleasley (Derbyshire): Agent John Brass, Manager Joe J Brealey (1097), U/m Fred Towndroe (2nd), 944 in Top Hard, Dunsil, Deep Hard and First Waterloo seams and 266 on surface. (ex-Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd). Output: 439,713 tons.
- Sherwood (Nottinghamshire): Agent W Gray, Manager John Reid (2103), U/ms George W Brooks (2977) and Jim S Thompson (3006), 1,036 in Top Hard, Main Hard and Dunsil seams and 230 on surface. (ex-Sherwood Colliery Co Ltd). Output: 353,655 tons.
- Shirebrook (Derbyshire): Agent Alf E Naylor (1928), Manager Edw’d W Potts (2131), U/m W Carrington (2nd), 1,067 in Top Hard and Main Hard seams and 393 on surface. (ex-Shirebrook Colliery Ltd). Output: 519,522 tons.
- Silver Hill No1 and 2 (Nottinghamshire): Agent John Brass, Manager George G Heathcote (2438), U/m Joe Morley (2nd), 895 in Deep Hard and 218 on surface. (ex-Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd.) Output: 387,543 tons.
- Teversal (Nottinghamshire): Agent John Brass, Manager Jacky P Mehers (1984), U/m Jim E Davies (1489), 690 in Top Hard and Dunsil seams and 183 on surface. (ex-Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd). Output: 324,643 tons.
- Warsop Main (Nottinghamshire): Agent W Gray, Manager Charlie W Ringham (2199), U/m Sam Baker (4201), 1,287 in Top Hard and High Hazel seams and 406 on surface. (ex-Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd). Output: 576,428 tons.