Information and photographs submitted by subscribers are posted in good faith. If any copyright of anyone else's material is unintentionally breached, please email me

The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

  1955    1    2 

1955 - Page 2

Sinkings In 1955

Sinking of Rufford No3 shaft (Nottinghamshire) at 24 feet (7.31m) diameter to 855 yards (782m) and the deepening of No2 shaft to 856 yards (783m) to the Low Main seam was completed.   One single deck cage in the No2 shaft would hold 90 men. It was enormous I remember, seemed like a dancehall. Here two tower mounted multi-rope friction winders would be installed at No2 and new No3 shafts.  Surveyor A Eddie Betts (2…), (transferred from Mansfield, 1952-1960s, promoted to Group Surveyor, and then Deputy area Surveyor North Nottinghamshire).

Similar tower mounted winders were erected at Warsop (Nottinghamshire) as the reconstruction of the colliery was completed.


A new surface drift at 1 in 3 was driven at Westthorpe from 1953-1955. A new headgear was fitted at Westthorpe shaft (Derbyshire). Highest manpower was 1,308 in 1956Holbrook shaft was abandoned as an airshaft, but retained for pumping.

Woolley Moor Drift

A new small drift mine was opened by the NCB at Woolley Moor near Ashover, (Derbyshire) and the development of the Alton seam was worked by 9 men. High Moor drift mine development continued and also Bramley Vale surface drifts continued down to the Clowne seam.

Closures 1955

The Training Centre at Markham (North Derbyshire) was closed.


Kimberley shafts were filled and capped in 1955. 2 shafts were sunk to Top Hard and Deep Hard and production ceased in 1937.

New Machines

A double-ended rotary cutting head machine was installed at Ormonde, and single-ended trepanner machines at Mansfield and Coppice. At Markham No2 a Joy loader was introduced. The Deep Soft seam at 4 feet (1.22m) thick was accessed at Sherwood.


H Merrik Spanton (4612) was Manager at the new developing pit Ledston Luck 1951-1955 with 148 men u/g and 65 on s/f then promoted to Agent for Brodsworth and later in 1957 Manager of Group D for Bullcroft & Brodsworth, (Yorkshire) in 1957. He was promoted to Area General Manager for the small Kent Coalfield and in April 1967 appointed Director for North Nottinghamshire Area. P Julian Griffiths (5676) was Undermanager at Highgate and would later be Director for South Nottinghamshire Area. John Brass previously at Teversal for Stanton Ironworks Co was General Manager for No2 Area Wigan.


Sir Anthony EdenAnthony Eden took over from Winston Churchill as Prime Minister (Conservative) from 7 Apr 1955 to 10 Jan 1957.

During his tenure the Suez Canal crisis happened in 1956 when president Nasser of Egypt ordered ships to be sunk in the Canal thereby blocking any passage through to the Red Sea. Ships had to revert to sailing round the Cape of Good Hope at the base of Africa. At the time coal was being transported to the Middle East and extra time was needed for the sea journeys there and back and obviously cost more and resulted in fewer trips and the export coal dwindled. Eden became ill and resigned over this issue. Harold MacMillan succeeded as premier.

Unofficial Strike

There was an unofficial strike by 108 fillers at Newstead (Nottinghamshire) on 14th October 1955, over contract rates.

Old Colliers

Edgar Dicks aged 75 retired from Williamthorpe (Derbyshire) in November.  He had worked as a collier at the coalface until he was 72

John Woodland was still working as Chargehand at 50s ripping lip at Teversal when he was 72. He never retired because unfortunately he was knocked down near his home by a car and killed! He was the grandfather of Jack Woodland, a friend and collier at Teversal. I tutored Jack on various aspects of maths etc and encouraged him to take GCEs at night school. He became a Deputy. Every Friday evening with our wives we would go out for a drink.  Jack left the pit and trained to be a School teacher and was appointed at All Saints, Ilkeston. I gave a talk to one of his classes and took along various artefacts such as a pit helmet, lamp, pads and instruments etc. The children enjoyed it immensely, particularly the ‘hands on’ part.

Over the years I have given numerous talks on mining and helped many with information on the various pits etc. Jack sadly committed suicide in his car in the garage at home by putting a hose pipe into the car from the exhaust pipe whilst the engine was running. He was terribly worried about a possible scandal at the school. June his wife emigrated to Australia later to be with her family.

Wingerworth Carbonisation Plant

The first Benzole fuel left Wingerworth Carbonisation plant (Derbyshire) on 25th November 1955. The first battery of 53 ovens at the NCB’s Avenue Plant at Wingerworth was lit by GWJ Bradley the man who had planned and supervised the project. However the coke ovens would not reach their required temperature until 17th February 1956. Output was to be 1,000 tons of coal per day transformed into coke and other by-products. There was an effluent treatment plant and electro detarrers and ammonia and secondary naphthalene washers.


Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) produced its 5th one million tons for the year in December 1955 with a total of 1,167,554 tons and highest ever manpower of 1,832 and also a weekly output record of 30,820 tons from the thick Top Hard seam.  By contrast B Winning produced its highest ever yearly output of 371,102 tons with 601 men.

Record weekly outputs were achieved at

  • Welbeck with 23,120 tons
  • Shirebrook 18,868 tons
  • Bilsthorpe 18,006 tons
  • Shirland 5,740 tons
  • B Winning 6,450 tons
  • Teversal 11,460 tons
  • Silverhill 12,883 tons
  • Cotes Park 4,894 tons and Ollerton 23,341 tons
  • Brookhill in December with 14,016 tons for 5 days and 15,132 tons for 6 days.
On 15th December 1955, the East Midlands Division collieries produced 1,049,052 tons in a week, the highest of any Division in the country. 

Ostler Retired After 62 Years

At Brookhill (Derbyshire) James Birch aged 76, horse keeper (Ostler), retired after 62 years underground service. 

Opencast Sites

  • Amberley Farm seam ?
  • Bretby (South Derbyshire) Little Woodfield seam
  • Bentinck Road near Clowne, Sough coal 2’ 3½” (0.70m), dirt 1’ 2” (0.35m), coal 1’ 0” (0.30m) 31/1/1955-10/6/1955, 20,578 tons extracted, old works found at 44 ft (13.5m) deep but no shafts or adits
  • Chestnut seam ?
  • Greyhound Low Main seam
  • Club Room June 1952-Oct 1955
  • Hasland Green First Ell seam
  • Hady Hill Tupton seam
  • Jubilee (Licestershire) Middle Lount 5’ 0” (1.5m), Nether Lount 4’ 2” (1.27m), Yard seam 2’ 2” (0.66m)
    28/5/1952 - 16/12/1955
  • Lower Hartshay
  • Manor Farm First Waterloo seam
  • Millstone  seam ?
  • Mosborough Hill site, Silkstone, coal and shale, top coal 2’ 3” (0.68m), coal and shale, bottom coal 1’ 9” (0.53m), 27/11/1954 to 26/11/1955, Agency Agreement, within the site 181m long by 23m across 14 bell pits of varying size were exposed
  • Parkers Wood Deep Hard SK441600, 373200 and 1st Piper
  • Pen
  • Ridgeway
  • Starvehim Valley Deep Hard seam; Steadmill B seam ?; Spanker Alton seam; Tongue Deep Soft, Mar 1955
  • Wingshrew Kilburn seam.

Bilsthorpe Wages Statistics

Bilsthorpe colliery (Nottinghamshire) wages costs etc for a 4 day week ended 31st December 1955.

There were 1,295 face manshifts worked for a gross wages bill of £4,437 8s 5d (£4,437.42), ave earnings per manshift 68s 6d (£3.42).

Development workers, 92 shifts was 67s 4d (£3.36).

Other underground workers 1,917 shifts, gross wages £4,636 7s 2d (£4,636.36), ave wage 48s 5d (£2.42) per shift.

Shotfirers was 55s 10d (£2.78).

Total surface labour 1,119 shifts, gross wages £2,494 3s 0d (£2,494.15), ave wage 44s 7d (£2.23) per shift, Highest rate, Maintenance men 55s 9d (£2.78).

Lowest wage Coal prep workers 36s 6d (£1.83) per shift. 

5 day week bonus was £1,644 16s 8d (£1,644.83). 

Output for the week was 7,382 tons with an OMS of 34.1 cwts.

Map A: Working pits in North Derbyshire in 1955

Return to Top

Pit Terminology - Glossary