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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


1961   1      3 

1961 - Page 3


A 400 hp steel cord conveyor, the first of its kind, at 2,300 yards (2,103m) long was installed at Newstead (Nottinghamshire). 

New electric winders replacing the old steam ones were installed in 1960 and 1961.

Pollution of Rivers

The Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act, 1961 again excluded any discharge of mine water into water courses in the same condition as it was raised or drained.

Outburst at Rufford

There was a further outburst of gas at Rufford (Nottinghamshire) from the Low Main seam at 800 yards (731m) deep.   Blandford and Gees a private mining firm were employed at the pit doing special works.

Explosives Regulations

The Coal Mines (Explosives) Regulations 1961 made provision for a store on the surface near to the shafts and the appointment of a person to be in charge and the explosives and detonators to be in separate parts of the building.

Champion Pit

Three-shift coaling began at Linby (Nottinghamshire) as at many other collieries.  The pithead baths were extended to accommodate more men.  A national record face OMS at 24.4 tons was achieved on a High Main face and was recognised Nationwide as Britain’s ‘Champion pit’


At Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire) and Markham (Derbyshire) there were trials with the Joy Butt Miner.  Double isolating valves were tried on 5 leg chocks at Moorgreen.

Thoresby Connection to Welbeck

Another connection was made underground in 1961 from Thoresby to Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) in Top Hard.

A new coal preparation plant was built at Blidworth (Nottinghamshire) during 1961-1962 with a capacity of 450 tons/hour.  A similar large one was commissioned at Manton (Nottinghamshire) in 1962.

Manriding Hunt manriderManrider

A ski-type lift manrider was installed at Wollaton (Nottinghamshire). 

Shipley Woodside

Shaft winding was abandoned at Shipley Woodside (Derbyshire) when all the production was exited via the surface drift.

Large Coal Needed

Conveyor belt 5 transfer point 1A push was made again at many of the pits in the region to produce large coal and Large coal Overmen were set on to follow the route of coal from the face to the shaft and develop ideas to prevent breakage of coal at gearheads, transfer points and loading points such as at Teversal placing old conveyor belting at these strategic points to allow the coal to slide down from one conveyor onto another conveyor and thus prevent the coal dropping from a height suddenly and smashing into small pieces. The idea worked to some degree but was not perfect as the coal was tipped at the pit top by revolving the tubs and dropping the contents to a lower level before being loaded into wagons to be transported to the washery plant at nearby Silverhill some half a mile away. Typical of the logic at the time for it just created another job down the pit.

Coal Survey Personnel

Coal Survey personnel visited all pits to take samples of coal for analysis as well as seam sections, these usually being agreed with the Surveyor for the mine who generally supplied more detail.

Proposal for Southgate Scrapped

Following the change of plan to connect through to Creswell the shaft at Southgate (Derbyshire) closed in 1929 was finally abandoned and capped.


At Williamthorpe (Derbyshire) a 125hp Mawco cutting machine was installed. 

Langwith Winders

Electric winders were commissioned at Langwith (Derbyshire) replacing the old steam engines in 1961 and 1963.

Pleasley Baths and Connection to Silverhill

New pithead baths were built at Pleasley (Derbyshire) in 1960-1961.  There were two shaft incidents at the mine in the 1960s but no one was injured. A connection was made from Silverhill to Pleasley at the Deep Hard horizon.

Last Pithead Baths At Existing Mines

The last pithead baths to be built by the NCB were opened at Denby Drury Lowe (Derbyshire) in 1961.

In Early 1960s The Farmer At Springwood

In the early 1960s the farmer at Springwood Farm in the upper Meden Valley told me he used to throw all his rubbish into the ‘hole’ near to his farmhouse and remarked ‘that it just kept disappearing’!  In the 1970s it was filled with stone and capped by the National Coal Board.  At several of the old shafts nearby water could be heard running.  At others only the splash of a stone thrown down denoted that the mines were flooded. As Surveyors we used to measure the level of the water by putting a piece of wood onto the end of a piece of string and lowering it slowly down the shaft until the string went limp.  We would do this several times to make sure that it was correct, each time noting that the mark made on the string was the same. The string was then wound out of the shaft and measured and particular note was made to make sure that the piece of wood, usually a cap lid was wet underside. The readings were recorded and compared with previous readings. All these shafts were eventually uncovered and filled with graded limestone and capped with concrete.

Old collapsed shaft
The photograph shows an old shaft almost full of water
I remember when we decided to re-correlate all the old shafts in the Valley once and for all using a theodolite and a 50m steel band. There were about 20 odd shafts that we knew of and others to search for so we anticipated it would take us on and off about 3 shifts as there were several others at Fackley Lane End to check also. One particular day, 19th May 1961 was a beautiful day of course and we progressed well so that when snap time came we decided to get into the nice smoothed grass hole for half an hour to eat our sandwiches and soak up a bit of sun. We broke our own golden rule on that occasion by venturing into an unknown entity. Some few weeks later, that shaft at the side of a footpath where 5 of us had been sitting, suddenly collapsed and the NCB Estates department tipped numerous lorry loads of bricks and rubble into the hole and finally topped it with a concrete cap.

That did frighten us so it was decided then to make all the old shafts safe, it being the Area Chief Surveyor’s task, however it took some time to convince the hierarchy and then only after HMI Bob Bower had expressed an interest in same. The Surveyors were Bernard Bailey Teversal Surveyor, me his Assistant, Apprentice Surveyor Barry Bladon, John Wilmot Assistant Surveyor on Group and we took Jimmy Sterland, Teversal Linesman with us. His Grandad Jack Sterland lived at Molyneux Farm and was helpful with his knowledge of the area. Old shafts whose exact positions we were unsure of were searched for by the North Nottinghamshire Area Drilling team, Boremaster Maurice Lamb using a Cobra drilling machine over a safety grid in the early 1970s. These shafts were likewise dealt with. Similarly old shafts in North and South Derbyshire and Leicestershire were filled and treated also.

Major Barber Died

Major Thomas Philip Barber DSO, TD, DC died on 11th July 1961, aged 85.  He was Managing Director of Barber Walker and Co an important company based at Eastwood prior to nationalisation. The Barber family had been in mining for over 200 years.

Harworth Gas Sold

During 1961, methane gas produced underground at Harworth (Nottinghamshire) was sold and pumped for use to the nearby glass bulb factory.  Large 10 inches (0.25m) diameter pipes were used in the shaft.

Mansfield Chronicle and Advertiser

27- July -1961

Pit Pony Refused To Work

'Jack', a chestnut pit pony, refused to be captured after a week above ground, on Friday pursued by police and Pleasley residents for five hours he was finally cornered in a field and shot.

Brought to the surface for Pleasley Colliery holidays, Jack evaded capture when miners went to the village cricket ground to collect him to resume work. During a final attempt on Friday night the pony jumped a fence and raced through Pleasley along the main road. Residents scattered as Jack careered through the street, trampling through gardens in his bid for freedom. Police were called in and finally the pony was trapped in a field where a policeman shot the animal. An official at Pleasley Colliery said "It was the only thing that could be done, it was humanely destroyed".

Pit ponies  16 Surface gangerOldest Pony at Gedling

The oldest pit pony in Nottinghamshire, ‘Ginger’, and aged 39 was retired from Gedling (Nottinghamshire) in August 1961. However he was not allowed to share the field with the younger working ponies that had been brought out of the pit for their annual break.  It was thought that he was too fragile and could get hurt.

Miners' Festival

The Miners Festival at Berry Hill Park, Mansfield was opened by Sid Ford, President of NUM.  The best pony competition was won by ‘Star,’ a 14 year old pony from Williamthorpe (Derbyshire). Class winners were ‘Pluto’ from Moorgreen (Nottinghamshire), ‘Harris’ from Stanley (Derbyshire) and ‘Ken’ from Calverton (Nottinghamshire).

Little Duke
Shirland Colliery Pony, the man holding the pony is Albert Newbourgh and the pony is Little Duke
All the best Fred Southey, X Deputy Silverhill Colliery

Record Outputs

In September 1961 Bestwood (Nottinghamshire) produced a record weekly output of 25,415 tons.  Also Mapperley (Derbyshire) record reached 11,586 tons with 69.1 cwts OMS.

Clay Cross Wooden Headgear Demolished

The old Clay Cross No2 wooden headstocks from 1840 were removed in July 1961 as being in a dangerous condition. The Derbyshire pit was closed in 1930.


President of Board of Trade, Freddie Erroll (Con), 9th Oct 1961-1963.

Modernisation Scheme at Teversal

Teversal 3  1869-1980In October 1961 a modernisation scheme costing £1.25m was completed at Teversal (Nottinghamshire) with a new mine fan replacing one of the earliest electric fans in the country, installed in the last century.  However the increased ventilation proved far too strong with the pressure being increased from about 4 inches (0.10m) to 10 inches (0.25m) water gauge, due to the small roadways in the Top Hard pit bottom area and the 10 feet diameter Shonkey shaft, and had to be baffled down. All the bits of paper and dust lying on girders were blown up the shaft. On the first ride down the shaft after the conversion the Manager George Noble and other officials were absolutely covered in dust and paper etc and it was so fierce that they could not get off the chair and had to be wound back out. Although not a hot pit previously even with the low ventilation currents inbye, there was definitely a cooling effect throughout the mine and duffle jackets were soon in evidence for personnel working in intake roadways.

A new electric winding engine was installed, also Peake Co turntables for tub handling at the surface. Tubs with number of the panel chalked on the side of the tub and on the coal continued to be weighed separately at the pit top by a checkweighman as previously done for many a year. This system was dispensed with after the panel contract system finished.

A new winding engine house was constructed at the opposite side to the existing one, where engines for both big or No1 pit and Shonkey shaft were contained somewhat piggyback.  The pulley wheels were replaced and moved back.  Both winding engines had been electrified. 

Many trip outs were experienced at the manriding shaft as the old steam winding engine-men wrestled with the unfamiliar electric winder controls, and a cage full of men was often left dangling for some time in the shaft whilst the trips were replaced. I was on the cage several times when this happened. The experience was not a pleasant one, particularly when the period exceeded 10 minutes or so.  A record number of 92 draws to the hour had been made at the coaling shaft in the 1950s under steam by winder Dick Turner.

Lofco tub handling had been introduced underground in conjunction with the new loading point in the pit bottom and in 1961 an electrical Mule haulage to handle empties had been installed. 

A new loco house for diesel engines was constructed at the surface as the old steam locomotives were phased out.

A Butterley surge bunker was installed underground in 1962 to regulate the coal flow to the Loading point. 

The old boilers and chimney were demolished. 

Teversal was the last pit in the North Nottinghamshire Area to retire pit ponies.  The Ostler doubled up as an Onsetter at the Shonkey pit bottom for the special in between shift end rides, usually for staff personnel, although once during a shift a large urn of tea was fetched from the canteen for the underground gaffers.

Another ‘runner' old Charlie, on the pit top used to take the motties of the men who had descended the mine in a wooden box to the Time Office about every quarter of an hour and similarly at the shift end so that the mens’ time would be booked. At many pits a more modern system was to send the motties to the Time Office via an air tube vacuum system. Similarly the empty containers would be returned to the pit top.

Three Nottinghamshire Pits Produced 1m Tons

  • Calverton 1,040,617 tons 1,552 men
  • Clipstone 1,002,104 tons 1,662 men
  • Linby with 1,050,109 tons and 1,134 men.


In 1961 there were 56,000 miners working in 39 pits in Nottinghamshire. Absenteeism still remained a major issue, particularly bad at the coal face. Manpower deployment boards were introduced usually at the entrance to the pithead baths as an effective way to control daily distribution of men to various jobs and as an early notification of shortage of men at a coal face, thereby allowing market men to be sent to that particular face with the rest of face team so that production would not suffer by lack of manpower.

Inspector's Report 1961

East Midlands Division:

  • Divisional Inspector Harold S Stephenson
  • Senior District Inspector George Miller
  • District Inspectors Robert (Bob) A Ridsdale MBE and Ben Duckworth.

South Nottinghamshire and Lincoln District: District Office, Huntingdon Street, Nottingham.

  • Senior District Inspector George Jenkins
  • District Inspector C William (Billy) Percival
  • Inspectors Johnny J Evans and HJ Dennis.

North Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire District: District Office, Bridge Street, Worksop.

  • Senior District Inspector Frank Bishop
  • District Inspector Arthur Chaplin
  • Inspector George W Taylor.

North Derbyshire District: District Office Iron Gate, Derby.

  • Senior District Inspector William (Willy) Whitehouse
  • District Inspector FC Mackie
  • Inspectors Peter B Taylor and John W Jones.

Leicestershire and South Derbyshire District: District Office, Granville Road, Leicester.

  • District Inspector (in charge) M George Thomas.

Number of Mines

There were now 87 deep mines and 13 small licensed mines (max 30 men) in the 3 counties.

Miners from the closing down pits in Scotland, the North East etc were being encouraged to move into the area to work at the so called ‘long life’ pits in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to supplement the manpower lost by the compulsory retirement scheme. Housing was being provided as fast as possible. Mechanisation was increasing, and basically it was ‘coal at any price’ once again.

Opencast Sites: 

  • Crown Inn Piper seam
  • Crown Inn Deep Hard seam
  • Ireland Foxearth 1’ 7” (0.48m), Sough 2’ 7” (0.79m), Furnace 2’ 1” (0.63m) and Brinsley Thin 1’ 3” (0.38m) 5/2/1958 – 5/5/1961
  • Hollingwood Deep Hard SK 441050, 374600
  • Slack Lane (Shipley Lake) Sath seam and Coombe and Top Hard.

Pit Terminology - Glossary