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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1956    1    2 

1956 - Page 1

PVC Brattice

PVC plastic brattice ‘cloth’ began to be used underground in 1956 for ventilation purposes. It was usually white with black diagonal squares.  It replaced the thick ’clothy’ Hessian material.

About this time there was another big push on safety in the mines. There were many different ideas tried.

Gate road Manchester safety gate closedGate road Manchester safety gate openManchester Gate

Shown to the left, is a Manchester gate closed and to the right open to allow vehicles to pass.

Area General Manager Resigned

Alan Hill (2769), Area General Manager of No6 Area, Bestwood, (Nottinghamshire) resigned his post to take up a position with a private firm.

Cutting machine 22 Shearer with cowl_2Getting coal 5The Golden Nugget

On 8th February 1956 at Blidworth, (Nottinghamshire) the
Radio Newsreel broadcast was on the Anderton shearer at work - nicknamed the ‘Golden Nugget’ as men on that district were earning good money.

Later that year a shearer was installed at Newstead.  Trepanners were installed later, when larger coals were required.

National Day Wage Structure

A National Day Wage Structure was agreed in February 1956, many local job categories being absorbed. An increase across the board of 2s 4d (11½p) a shift raised rates underground to £1 10s 1d (£1.50½) a shift and for surface rate £1 6s 9d (£1.34½).  A second increase for Under Officials was also agreed.


James Bowman was appointed Chairman of the NCB (1956-1961) following the death of Sir Hubert Houldsworth.

Alf Eggleshaw succeeded EJ Lee as President of Nottinghamshire NUM.

Strike Over Cold Working Conditions On Coal Face

Map13 - CopyFrom 1st to 5th March 1956, 40 coalface fillers were on strike at Oakwood Grange (Nottinghamshire) over cold ventilation air at the coalface.  It was too cold to work, it being a shallow mine.  The mine had been merged with Cossall in 1955 after 24 years work.  There was a strike over pay rates 17th to 23rd April by 9 men at Cossall that resulted in 650 men being idle.  Ramcroft men (Derbyshire) came out on 26th March over pay rates also.

Old collieries in the area were:     Awsworth, Newthorpe Lodge, Bennerley, Giltbrook, Speedwell, Town pit, Babbington New, High Holborn, Octavia, Cossall, Cuckoo, Walkers, Turkey Field, Strelley, Furnace and Robbinett's.   Many bell pits, several soughs and other coal and ironstone shafts abounded.

Avenue coking plantAvenue Plant At Wingerworth Officially Opened

On 3rd March 1956 the Avenue Coal and Chemical Carbonisation plant at Wingerworth, Chesterfield, Derbys was officially opened.  It took 8 weeks for the 53 ovens to warm up to operating level.

Remote Controlled Chocks

Ormonde (Derbyshire) and Newstead (Nottinghamshire) had the first Dowty powered supports with remote control.  At Ormonde a complete face of Gullick Dobson hydraulic powered supports using a water/soluble oil mix as a safe medium.  30 Gullick 4 leg chocks were tried in the centre of a Low Main face in June 1954 and they were so successful that others were added by 1955.

Deputies Refused To Work Weekends

On 5th May 1956, Deputies at 14 Derbyshire pits refused to work on Saturday as a protest against the inadequacy of the recent pay award. 

In July 1956, Deputies at 22 pits in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire refused to work on Saturdays.  Bilsthorpe, Blidworth, Ollerton and Rufford were included. This followed 16th June when they refused to work at 8 pits in Derbyshire after they had requested a 42½-hour week.  

Harry Hicken Retired

Harry Hicken the East Midlands Division Director of Labour retired.  He was renowned for never wearing a tie, but always a spotless white shirt with a brass collar stud. He had presented me with a clock as first prize for being the best trainee of the session at Silverhill Training school in 1953.

 Clean Air Act

A campaign by back bench MPs had forced the introduction of the Clean Air Act 1956. This had taken some time to put through Parliament following the worst smog ever in London where a dense yellowish-grey fog choked the streets during the week starting 6th December 1952 when 12,000 people died in 4 days. (see 1952)

People began to change over to gas for heating and cooking and coal was made into smokeless fuel but only from the better quality coal seams. Pits had to close. The NCB began to struggle with orders.

Photo from History Today

UK set for first full day without coal power - 21 April 2017

Coal Sales Regions Introduced

1956 saw the introduction of Sales Regions.  The total number of collieries in Britain was now down to around 400 and great competition from oil, gas and nuclear power (later) was having an effect.  Prior to 1956 it had been a ‘sellers market, but now it was a ‘buyers market.  Pits in our region were now competing with pits from other regions for the sales.  Of course some coals were better than others, in rank and cleanliness, but it was generally the older and inefficient mines in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire that would have to close and the newer Nottinghamshire mines would thrive.

Final Compensation Payments For Collieries

The final payments for compensation when the NCB was inaugurated under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946 were made by the Minister (now the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry).  The NCB now became liable to this Minister for repayments of the industry’s capital debt, which had risen, and would continue to rise as money was borrowed to invest in the mechanisation drive and other major schemes. As can be seen, millions of £s was poured into the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire pits in the quest to increase tonnage, albeit at the loss of quality.

Sports Stadium at Berry Hill

A sports stadium was constructed at Berry Hill, Mansfield.  2,000 tons of soil was transported from Ollerton No2 Tip site for the construction.

Traumatic Fatality At Teversal

Coal fired ready to be loaded onto face conveyorOn Saturday 21st July 1956 there was a particular traumatic fatal accident at Teversal (Nottinghamshire).  John James Dove was crushed slowly, his belt getting fast on the end of a W bar as he tried to scramble through a tight part of a buttock on the left hand side of 70s Dunsil coal face as the roof lowered, following the firing of a shot to break down the coal ready to load out. The site of the accident was not unlike the photograph, I remember the occasion well, as I was one of the team of three surveyors who measured up the site to produce a plan of the accident.

Within a few months of this accident, 90s panel on the other side of the pit ran into a washout at the top tail gate end and began shortening the face line and of course the output at the pit began to fall.

NACODS On Unofficial Strike

Not a blow was struck at 50 East Midlands mines on Thursday 28th July 1956 due to an unofficial dispute by NACODS union over Saturday working. It was quickly settled.

Heavy Rain Affected Some Pits

Some pits including Bilsthorpe, Clipstone and Thoresby were affected by heavy rain and violent thunderstorms as there had been ½” (13mm) rainfall.

Sinkers' Wages

Sinkers riding in a kibbleSinking wages per shift at Bevercotes new mine (Nottinghamshire) were as follows:
First chargeman 53s (£2.65)
Second chargeman 50s (£2.50)
Mechanical Grab operator 50s (£2.50)
First sinker 47s 6d (£2.37½)
Second sinker 42s 5d (£2.12)
Apprentice sinker 35s (£1.75)
Trainee sinker 32s (£1.60). 
The system was by the freezing process, concrete lined, 24 ft (7.3m) dia. The pictures show sinkers riding in the kibble and the shaft bottom.

Calverton Coal Prep Plant and New Langley Pithead Baths

A new coal preparation plant was commissioned at Calverton (Nottinghamshire).  Pithead baths opened at New Langley (Derbyshire).

Planned Maintenance Scheme Introduced

Planned Maintenance schemes were set up at the collieries.  A record was kept of all machinery etc and reports were handed in daily of all maintenance, which was logged, thereby a service log was set up and kept up to date.

Defunct Chimney

The defunct pit chimney at Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) was demolished.

Record OMS

Newstead (Nottinghamshire) had a record output per manshift (OMS) of 67 cwts per man on 25th July 1956.  

Seam Abandoned

The Yard seam at Silverhill (Nottinghamshire) was abandoned September 1956, due to the inclusive dirt bands.

Colliery Closures 1956

Oakwood Grange merged with Cossack 1955
And Closed as a separate unit 1956 after 25 years

Oakwood Grange near Cossall, to the East of the village (Nottinghamshire), was sunk as Grange in 1930 by A Lomas to work Piper coal at the outcrop, but was closed in the same year, 5 men underground and 2 on surface.
Shaft position: SK44SE 448663, 342338, surface level 239.5 ft (73m above O. D).

The mine was re-opened again by A Lomas, Grange Farm in Oct 1931 to work the Deep Soft seam but was then taken over by the Grange Colliery Co. Pits 1, 2, 3 were taken over by the Oakwood Grange Colliery Co Ltd in 1937 with a manpower of 27 underground working Deep Soft and Piper, and 12 on the surface.
A surface drift was driven, mine mouth 43/4842/829537, level 233 ft (71.0m).

Cossall drift, mine mouth 43/4742/879545, surface level 203 ft (61.8m).
Oakwood Grange
merged with Cossall in 1955, and had its highest ever manpower of 253, and was closed as a separate unit after 25 years in 1956.  It was a naked light pit to 1949. A new fan was operational in 1957.

Robinetts drift mine mouth 43/4941/119962, surface level 214 ft (65.2m).
Manpower: 1930: abandoned

A Lomas:

  • 1931: Grange re-opened 2 Piper seam, 1 surface
  • 1932: Grange Colliery Co: 5 Deep Soft? 2 surface
  • 1933: 15 DS, 3 s/f
  • 1934: 14 DS, 3 s/f
  • 1935: 11 DS, 3 s/f
  • 1936: 21 DS, 5 s/f
  • 1937: Oakwood Grange Colliery Co Ltd: 29 DS, 9 s/f
  • 1938: No1: 30 Soft, No2: 12 Piper dev, 15 s/f
  • 1940: No1/No2: 27 Soft and P, No3: 21 Soft, 5 s/f
  • 1941: No1/No2: 29 S, P, No3: 24, 17 s/f
  • 1942: No1/No2: 43 P, No3: 11 Deep Soft, 17 s/f
  • 1943: No1/No2: 58 P, 18 s/f, No3  DS abandoned Jan 43
  • 1944: 73 P, 21 s/f
  • 1945: 74 P, 20 s/f
  • 1946:
Tonnage and Manpower NCBNo5 Area EMD: Grange
  • 1947: 94,062 tons, 148 men
  • 1948: 106,124 tons, 175 men
  • 1949: 110,612 tons, 183 men
  • 1950:  renamed Oakwood Grange:109,892 tons, 178 men
  • 1951: 142,813 tons, 201 men
  • 1952: 124,589 tons, 187 u/g, 36 s/f, total 223 men
  • 1953: 143,168 tons (max), 167 P, 31 s/f, 198 men
  • 1954: 142,600 tons, 250 men
  • 1955: 133,789 tons, 224 Piper, 32 s/f, 256 men (max).
Agents: H Rigley Agent 1942-1946. The Agent, not necessarily qualified was responsible by law but mainly the buffer between the Owner and the Manager to organise equipment and oversee production.

Sub-Area Managers:

  • Jack H Pedley (2182) Sub-Area Manager 1947-1952
  • Tommy Wright (3048) Sub-Area Manager 1953-55.

Managers Oakwood Grange

  • None listed, until GH Holmes (3987) 1942-1943
  • John Dow (3090) 1943-1955.


  • None, until A Knight (2nd) 1947-1952
  • D Bakewell (5044) 1952-1953
  • GW Hatton (2nd) 1953-1955
  • I Pilbeam (2nd) 1955-1959.

Surveyors: as per Cossall.

Hucknall No1 pit 1959 ventilation for Hucknall No2 pit and BabbingtonNew Selston pit 1Linby Reconstruction

A major reconstruction scheme began at Linby (Nottinghamshire).  Skip winding was introduced. At Linby a single cable belt conveyor, which at the time was the longest in Europe, replaced the 2,300 yard (2,103m) long rope haulage for tubs.    

Moorgreen Surface Drift

At Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire) the surface drift was equipped with a 42 inches (1.07m) wide cable belt.

Floor Mounted Trepanners

Lodge (Nottinghamshire) undercut, the first floor mounted trepanner using chain jibs for squaring the floor cut, single ended cut, flit back the other direction.

Double ended floor mounted trepanner introduced into Moorgreen and Newstead (Nottinghamshire).

Skip Winding At Langwith

The old tub winding system was replaced by skip winding at Langwith (Derbyshire) in 1956 and handfilling ceased a year later when Meco Moore cutter loaders were introduced.

Mine Cars At Pleasley

At Pleasley (Derbyshire) 3 ton mine cars were introduced at the South shaft Deep Hard pit bottom and the main trunk conveyors were extended. The total cost for the project was £900,000.

Demolition at Babbington

The old wooden tandem headgear at No1 and No2 shafts Windy and Smokey, boilers and chimney were demolished at Babbington (Nottinghamshire) and replaced by new steel tandem headgear and an electric winder over the following year as part of a major reorganisation at the mine. Miners working Deep Soft seam were transported daily by bus after getting changed at Babbington to No7 Babbington return shaft which was the No2 shaft of the old Hucknall No1 pit. The miners returned at shift end by bus back to Babbington pithead baths.  Due to the workings approaching Hucknall No2 pit shaft pillar it was quicker to transport men by bus than by underground methods plus walking to the working panels therefore achieving a longer working shift. When the new headgears were operational the bus transport ceased.

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Pit Terminology - Glossary
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