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

  1956    1    2 

1956 - Page 2

Colliery Closures Continued  

New Selston Merged with Pye Hill After 64 Years

In August 1956, New Selston (Bull and Butcher) (Nottinghamshire) sunk in 1890-1892 by J Oakes and Co was closed after 64 years and merged with Pye Hill.  Shaft positions: SK45SE, No1 shaft 445771, 352791, DC 363’ 0” (110.6m), No2 shaft 445826, 352783.  Tunnel pit.

Seams worked:

  • Deep Soft -1921
  • Deep Hard -1930
  • Piper -1930
  • 2nd Waterloo -1975

New Selston Bull & ButcherManpower: Jas Oakes and Co

  • 1894: Deep Soft, Deep Hard 283,s/f 53, total 336
  • 1895: 345 men
  • 1900: 360 men
  • 1903: 548 men
  • 1905: 590 men (max)
  • 1911: 550 men
  • 1913: 545 men
  • 1915:  474 men
  • 1920: Deep Hard, Piper, Deep Soft 420, s/f 95, total 515 men
  • 1923: 514 men
  • 1925: 510 men
  • 1926: 418 men
  • 1927: 467 men
  • 1928: 437 men
  • 1929: 232 men
  • 1930: 141 men
  • 1933:  Low Main 374 men
  • 1935: 361 men
  • 1940: 365 men
  • 1945: 368 men and boys.

Tonnage and Manpower NCB: No5 Area EMD

  • 1947: 104,968 tons, 338 men
  • 1948: 145,424 tons, 376 men
  • 1949: 162,962 tons, 415 men
  • 1950: 161,703 tons, 421 men (max)
  • 1951: 157,050 tons, 409 men
  • 1952: 171,094 tons, 414 men
  • 1953: 217,682 tons, 399 men
  • 1954: 219,403 tons (max), 392 men
  • 1955: 203,885 tons, 407 men.


  • Chas H Oakes Agent 1890-1929
  • JO Ranger Agent 1929-1930
  • WG Ball (1095) Agent 1930-1946
  • Jack H Pedley (2182) Agent then Sub-Area Manager 1947-1952
  • Arthur Dennis (4207)

Sub-Area Managers / Group Managers:

  • Jack H Pedley (2182) Sub-Area Manager 1947-1952
  • Tom Wright (3048) Sub-Area Manager 1952-1955
  • Group Manager Arthur Dennis (4207).

Managers for New Selston

  • John HW Laverick (2354) 1892-1904
  • Ben McLaren (1789) 1904-1925
  • WG Ball (1095) 1925-1930
  • WG Ball (1095) Agent and Manager 1930-1934
  • E Searson (2104) Manager 1934-46
  • Sam S Thornhill (3123) Manager 1947-June 51
  • FM Ball (2339) June 1951-Sep1952
  • William Murday (4631) Sep 1952-May 1954
  • William E Bridgett (3816) May 1954-1956
  • (Maurice Godfrey (5994) for Pye Hill and New Selston 1956-1960s).

Undermanagers for New Selston:

  • Gervase Searston 1893-1918
  • T Chamberlain (2nd) 1918-1940
  • EH Perkins (2811) 1940-1942
  • T Musgrove (2nd) 1942-1943
  • R Tyler (2nd) 1943-1956 and continued for New Selston section of combine – 1960s


  • Bernard Gill (2587)

Whitecotes Closed 

Whitecotes (Derbyshire) (The Boythorpe Co Ltd) Piper seam, closed through exhaustion.            

There were 6 adits, an air shaft 12 yards (11m) deep, another air shaft 7 feet (2.14m) diameter and 50 yards (45m) deep, worked through old workings from Walton colliery, section: top coal left 2’ 3” (0.69m), dirt 1’ 2” (0.35m), duns inferior 2’ 0” (0.61m), dirt 3” (0.08m), coal with dirt bands 2’ 6” (0.76m).

Manager:  John W Fidler.

Surveyor: Richard Robb (2539).

New Hucknall Shaft Closed

New Hucknall 2The defunct No1 shaft at New Hucknall (Nottinghamshire) was closed and capped.  Position SK45NE, 447286, 358380. Production was concentrated in the lower seams.  The steam winders at No2 and No3 shafts were electrified.  The waste heap was re-graded and seeded with grass and cattle were to be found grazing on the old tip shortly afterwards, having been returned to the local farmer. 

Pithead Baths Opened At Sutton

Pithead baths and canteen were opened at Sutton colliery (Nottinghamshire).

WPIS Rates Of Pay

Weekly paid industrial staff (WPIS) rates of pay were revised from 31st August 1956 and a new schedule of jobs in Engineering, General and Specialist were introduced, with 830 different job titles being reduced to 66 and National standard rates introduced.

Bretby Engineering Establishment and Chalfont Staff College Opened

The new Central Engineering Establishment at Bretby opened. The Staff College at Chalfont St Giles was founded to develop management training.  Eventually most of higher management went there for several weeks, about 6, middle management for 3 to 4 weeks, my period being in 1978 on a Specialist’s Course. You couldn’t go home at weekends.

At Chalfont you were interviewed by one of the staff on arrival, then you had to interview them, mine being Adrian Alderton, Course leader and Deputy Director. It was an immediate jolt to the system. However he was quite open about his career and family life etc and we gelled immediately. After evening meal several times a job was ‘dropped on us unexpectedly’ when we were relaxed and nicely satisfied with food, wine and beer and ready for bed. The idea was to see how the syndicate could cope with pressure on a major problem and arrive at a satisfactory conclusion for next day after breakfast when each one of us in turn had to give a presentation to the director.

Syndicates of 7 members were set up and projects were assigned and each one in turn was made to be project leader. On occasions the work went on late into the night to get a project ready to present next morning after breakfast, however the ‘pain’ was dispersed somewhat, with the marvellous cuisine and the ‘odd drink’.

Mike Goldsby ex Manager of Creswell was one of the tutors, he would become my boss at HQ in 1986 as Deputy Chief Mining Engineer (Mine Planning and Surveying). Going to Chalfont for 3 years allowed him to bypass a Production Manager’s position.

Overall after the initial impact, the course turned out to be pleasant, and it was obvious that from your assessment, was how far up the management ladder one progressed. However job prospects were bleak for some, such as Surveyors for one, due to colliery closures continuing.

Graham House

Lower graded staff went to courses at Graham House in the North East at Gateshead. Two or three of my assistants went there for two weeks.

Regulations Introduced

The Coal and Other Mines (Horses) Regulations, 1956 were enacted and the NCB and the RSPCA collaborated to ensure that older ponies, not fit to be sold for further work of any kind, would only be sent to a recognized home or private owner approved by the RSPCA or other animal protection society or put in a home under NCB control.  The regulations also stated that horses were to be examined by a qualified vet once a year and a report kept.  An animal was only to be kept away from its stable for not more than 2 shifts in 24 hours, 3 shifts in 48 hours and 7 shifts in 7 days.  Any horse found unfit for work was to be sent for slaughter immediately, or to a rest home, or responsible person, but not to a horse dealer.

The Coal Mines (Precautions Against Inrushes) Regulations, 1956 had the same wording as Sec 68 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, where boreholes were to be drilled forward in advance and flanking in a pattern.  Fortunately there had not been any major inrush of water at a pit in the two counties since the Clay Cross disaster in the late 1800s and Southgate in 1929

A Water Dangers Committee had been set up in 1927.

Notification of Dangerous Occurrences and (Surveyors & Plans) Regulations, 1956.  These regulations would certainly cause some problems in future as accidents and incidents not necessarily including deaths would have to be investigated thoroughly by HMI and almost always a plan would have to be produced by the Surveyor from measurements taken by him or his assistant at the scene of the accident. A serious accident could involve up to 3 days work. First day measure up the scene and provide a rough sketch for the Manager and Inspector. Second day prepare the plan and trace it have witnesses etc view same and third day produce x number of prints of the accident, colour them and distribute to the various parties, generally about a dozen but on one occasion 50 prints were required by Area Safety department to be sent to Hobart House the NCB HQ in London for distribution round the Areas. I never got to know what for. I forget now but it was probably a special incident that needed to be portrayed to others.

 The Coal and Other Mines (Electricity) Regulations, 1956, stated that all electrical power to apparatus on the return side of a place to be de-gassed, should be isolated, unless the firedamp content was below 1¼%.

Training Regulations 1956, introduced because of the early stages of mechanisation with power loaders and powered supports. Nursery training faces were established for boys under 18 years old.

Respirable Dust Regulations, 1956. This required a sampling scheme to be set up in all drivages and coal faces.

Inflammable Dust Regulations, 1956 were brought in where under Reg 10A (2) a Dust Barrier Scheme had to be implemented where conveyor belts were used. The photo shows stone dust piled on boards supported by brackets in an arched roadway. The idea was that should an explosion occur the resulting blast force would blow the barriers down and the dust would fill the air in the roadway and cut off any flame from the explosion.

Safety Lamps and Lighting Regulations 1956, requiredamong other things a lamp room on the surface where lamps could be returned after use and also the provision of a lamp station underground, but not in the return air, where oil lamps without a re-lighting device could be re-lighted.

In May 1956 Arrangements Were Made By NCB

In May 1956 arrangements were made by the NCB on behalf of the Minister of Fuel and Power to preserve plans of abandoned coal mines and seams.

Plans Records Office

The Board was to provide suitable storage accommodation under lock and key with dry and as far as  possible fireproof conditions – a Plans Records Office at a suitable place in each of the Board’s Divisions, selected in accordance with HM Divisional Inspector of Mines. In this area it was at Divisional HQ Sherwood Lodge. To continue other arrangements as made in 1950 on 13th January with the Minister and agreed by the Board on receipt of a letter dated 22nd February 1950. In each division a qualified Surveyor to be designated to exercise general supervision over the Plans Records Office and of subordinate staff from the Board’s Surveying Branch. (David Clarke, Mining Records Officer is seen putting an old rolled up abandonment plan back into a storage pigeon hole in 2002).

 A duplicate of each index entry was to be sent to Divisional HMI who was to keep a similar index and also a complete set to be kept at Hobart House in London. The plans were to be made available without charge for inspection or loan to responsible officials of Government Depts on request subject to a receipt of a suitable undertaking by the borrower as to their safe custody and return (including HM Inspectors).

The plans were also to be available for inspection by other interested parties. As a safeguard against loss by fire or other accident or enemy action the Board was to photograph on a reduced scale all plans and send a copy with a coloured contact print to the Divisional HMI for custody in a separate safe place. The arrangements were to come into operation on 1st January 1957, the date of the enactment of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.

By 2010 almost all abandonment plans for the UK would have been scanned at the Mining Records office of the Coal Authority in Manasfield, Nottinghamshire and could be accessed by computer in colour and to any scale.

HM Inspectorate

East Midlands Division HMI: Div HQ, Nottingham: Div Inspector William (Bill) B Brown CBE, Senior District Inspector George Miller, Inspector Robert (Bob) A Ridsdale; Inspector of Horses Tom J Melody.

Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire District (Nottingham): Senior District Inspector: George Jenkins; District Inspectors: Frank Bishop and C William (Billy) Percival; Inspectors: John (Johnny) J Evans, M George Thomas.

North Derbyshire District (Derby): Senior District Inspector: Eric Richford; District Inspectors: William (Willy) Whitehouse, FC Mackie; Inspector: SD Thorpe.

Leicestershire and South Derbys District: (Leicester)

Connection From Rufford To Bilsthorpe

A connection was made underground between Rufford and Bilsthorpe (Nottinghamshire) for Civil Defence reasons.

Blyth Seam At Harworth

The Blyth seam was accessed at Harworth (Nottinghamshire) from insets partway down the shafts. Harworth general offices and headgear shown in photo.


Pithead Baths At Renishaw Park

Pithead baths were opened at Renishaw Park (North Derbyshire) on 6/10/1956.

Explosion At Pleasley

On 20th October 1956 there was an explosion of firedamp caused by shotfiring at Pleasley (Derbyshire) in the Deep Hard seam and 5 men were burned and several other men were injured.

1 In 1 Drift To Deep Soft

An exploratory steep 1in1 heading was driven up to the Deep Soft seam around this period, but development of the seam was not pursued. I knew of one person who fell down the drift as one had to hang on to a rope fastened to the side of the heading. He let go!

NUM Branch President Died

Alf Eggleshaw, President of Nottinghamshire Branch of the NUM died on 19th November 1956


Radford/Wollaton (Nottinghamshire) produced its highest ever output of 692,761 tons with 1,367 men.

The maximum ever manpower at Wingfield Manor (Derbyshire) reached 618.

Number Of Fatal Accidents

In the East Midland Division there were 248 fatal accidents in 1956 compared with 434 fatals in 1946.

Saw Pits Closed At Tibshelf

During 1956 the Saw pits at Tibshelf (Derbyshire) was closed following a suspicious fire.   Since 1940 the yard had supplied thousands of pit props and other wooden pieces such as chock nogs and lids etc to the local pits, and during the war period women were seconded to the job instead of the forces, land army or factory work.


Opencast Sites

  • Bacon Lane
  • Ballarat Cottages Threequarter seam
  • Balmoak
  • Bacon Lane
  • Bentinck Deep Soft
  • Brierley Hero Threequarter, Silkstone, Ashgate 4/1/1954 – 20/8/1956
  • Buckland
  • Club Room site (surrounded by ancient workings, abandoned and restored)
  • Cobnar Wood First Piper
  • Cobnar Wood Deep Hard seam
  • Greyhound
  • Hall Farm
  • Hillsboro Birch Kilburn seam
  • Hundall, Tupton seam
  • Jubilee (Leicestershire) Middle Lount, Nether Lount and Yard
  • Manor Farm
  • Mill & Extension Yard seam
  • Moses Lane Kilburn and Ashgate fin 22nd June 1956
  • Octavia Plantation Deep Hard and 1st Piper
  • Pen
  • Riley Lane
  • Sheep Lane
  • Siege
  • Skeggerley Low Main seam
  • South Wingfield
  • Spital
  • Starvehim Valley
  • Starvehim Valley Ashgate seam
  • Swancar Farm 1st Piper
  • Timberfield Blackshale
  • Vixen Nether Lount, Yard, 24th Aug
  • Woodthorpe Hall Blackshale seam.

Return to Top

Pit Terminology - Glossary