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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

1973 1974
  1976 Pages     1     2 

1976 - Page 1

First Single Point Suspension Of A Cable In A Shaft At Ollerton

In January 1976 a single-point suspension shaft cable approx 530 yards (485m) long for UNOR air sampling from all districts was installed in the No2 UC and materials/manriding shaft at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) in only a few hours.  This pioneered the practice for use at other collieries, as the normal time consuming and specialised work of fastening the cable to the shaft sides by cleats etc was not necessary.  Special girder work was installed to carry the extra weight. Several other cables were installed by this method at Ollerton over the next couple of years including a 91 pair telephone cable and a 6,600v power cable. The other cables required at Ollerton were for extra power and communications etc necessary for the new breed of high horsepower machinery to be installed in the new Parkgate seam that was being developed. 

Introduction Of Laser Beams In North Nottinghamshire Area At Ollerton

Twin 1in6 and 1in5 cross-measures drifts to the Parkgate seam from the Top Hard horizon were begun at Ollerton as part of this scheme. As Surveyor for the Mine, I introduced laser beams in both headings to control direction and grade. These headings 16 feet (4.88m) wide and 12 feet (3.65m) high, on contract in the Main Intake drift, and driven by the Area Tunnelling Team in the Main Return drift being bored by airleg and using full round firing and loading out with Eimco shovel helped to achieve National record advances of +18 yards/week (+16.5m) a week in both heads. Unit charges were used and transported into the mine in bulk in special closed tubs and a special store was equipped in the headings so that the explosives would be on hand. Many visitors came to see the new idea, even Trevor Taylor the NCB National SurveyorIt was the first such installation in North Nottinghamshire  Area. I was appointed Laser Safety Officer! This system had been pioneered at Newstead in the 1in4 Tupton drifts a couple of years before by Roy Garrett JP (2834) the Surveyor. As mentioned previously I had visited the site to iron out any snags that may have cropped up. Initial teething problems were soon sorted out and to ensure that the beam was on line and grade I had some very heavy plates made with a 3” (80mm) round hole cut in the centre. A couple of these plates were hung with heavy chains from the arches at about 50m and 100m from the laser unit and providing the red beam was shining through the 2 holes onto the head end some 200m forward then it was good enough for the headers to set their arches to. Fine adjustments were made frequently to ensure that the beam was shining through the holes fully and not catching the side of the holes. The laser units were moved inbye several times. I was extremely pleased with the end result from our side. The Manager Walter Standage was extremely pleased with the record advances. He was not pleased when the headings were in the thick Parkgate seam and half the tonnage and proceeds had to be given back towards the cost of National project...called Capital coal. This tonnage had to be taken off the amount of saleable coal produced each week until the first face 1s was ready for cutting.

Bevercotes also pioneered the use of laser beams on several in-seam projects such as loco track alignment and grade.  The use of lasers would spread to other pits.

Retreat Mining Introduced

Retreat mining was introduced at Arkwright (North Derbyshire) in January 1976.

Automatic Control Of Bunker

At Bilsthorpe (North Nottinghamshire) the automatic control of an underground storage bunker was commissioned.  It was the first of its kind in the country, the natural incline of the coal itself activating the system.  Electronic level indicators opened and closed the doors on the 250 tonnes capacity bunker.

Deputy’s Certificate

New Rules were introduced for Mine Deputys Certificates from January 1976. The standards were set higher than before and required the holder to be in possession of a Shotfirer’s Certificate, pass the gas testing and hearing test, complete an approved course of technical instruction and pass a written examination, whereas previously an oral examination had sufficed, although men born before 1st January 1934 could take an oral examination instead of a written one. Overmen were required to hold a Deputy’s Certificate also, although in practice this job was generally a natural progression for Deputies. Because at times I found myself in parts of the mine at times remote from others I thought that further knowledge of mining would be advisable and took an evening course in 1964 tutored by Joey Morley, Undermanager Silverhill, at Huthwaite Road School and passed my Gas testing and hearing (AE Dyson, Head of Mining dept) at Mansfield Technical College, Oral exam at Derby Road Tech (William (Bill) Buck, Lecturer), Shotfirer’s exam at South Normanton, (Colin Wells (6005), Manager at Silverhill), for practical part and Arthur Townsend (6400), Manager at  Shirland) for the oral and theory part and the Deputy’s Certificate and oral and practical exam at Bentinck Waterloo seam (Edward Arthur Hopkins (5684), Manager at Swanwick).  During the later strikes and overtime bans of the 1970s and 1980s I was able to put into practice the knowledge gained when underground alone on two occasions. I might add I was running the roster ... but on those two occasions could I get any staff person to come as a mate particularly HQ staff of them wanted to pick their own shift and time. So the only thing to keep the job going was to do it on my own. The Manager Walter Standage was pleased that those two shifts had gone well but that was after the event. He didn’t want to know beforehand as in his words ‘I know that you will see the job through’, but reckoned afterwards that he didn’t realise I would be on my own !!!!

Training for Work

A new National scheme of Training for Work for Coal Production was approved by the HSE in April.

First Rapid Loading Bunker In Britain At Langwith

The first surface Rapid loading bunker was erected at Langwith (North Derbyshire).  Many more would be built at the larger collieries.  A train of empty wagons could creep under the bunker and a full train of 1,000 tonnes of coal could be dispatched to a power station in less than half an hour.  They were referred to as ‘Merry-Go-Round’ trains. A 2,500 tonnes capacity surface bunker costing £650,000 was erected at Bilsthorpe in March, a train being filled in 40 minutes to deliver coal to the Cottam and High Marnham Trent-side power stations. A similar one was erected at Blidworth (North Nottinghamshire) shortly afterwards.  The winding engines at Langwith were converted to electric during 1976-1977 at a cost of £2m.

Cory Coal Plant

The coal processing plant at Grassmoor operated by Cory Coal constructed a crump weir in order to extract water from the River Rother, but restrictions were that no water from the processing was to be allowed back into the River, avoiding any further pollution.  A bund surround was constructed to ensure a strong retaining wall for when the lagoon was full, however a breach was made in the bottom of the lagoon whilst cleaning out by drag line and the water ran away into old underground mine workings!  Fortunately any build up in the old workings did not create any inrush situations at working collieries to the dip side, as far as we are aware. The Cort screens used at closed Ollerton Rexco plant were transported and rebuilt on the site and also a Parnaby Rotary barrel washer would be installed in 1977 and coal from the local private mines at Amber Valley, Doe Lea and Strathfield at Stretton edge, plus local opencast coal would be washed there.

William Cory and Son was bought out by Ocean Transport and Trading Co Ltd in the past, and they obtained a site of some 19 acres at Grassmoor near Chesterfield. However it had been a scrap yard previously and all the scrap needed removing in order to lay down large areas of concrete for coal storage, and a coal processing plant was built, following Town and Country Planning Permission, on the old marshalling yard at Hasland and in the following year leased it off British Rail.

Storm Strikes The Midlands Region

A terrific storm struck the region on 9th January 1976 and part of a wooden cooling tower at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) similar to the ones shown was blown down. Exhaust steam from the generator that powered the colliery houses was condensed in the two towers. The tower had to be demolished Warsop Main Cooling towersbecause of its dangerous condition. Goldfish introduced into the ponds years before had thrived and multiplied in the warm water. A couple of painters, Norman and Alan used to feed them on a regular basis. After electrification of the second winding engine the other cooling tower was demolished also as it was now defunct.

Thousands of trees were blown down in the surrounding forests. It was classed as the storm of the century.

Overtime Ban At Langwith

On 15th February 1976 there was an overtime ban at Langwith colliery (North Derbyshire) over the decision to close the pit.  There was strong opposition to the ban - called off after 4 days.  Len Clarke (2664) Area President of the NUM and Len Martin General Secretary called for more time to negotiate.  They stressed however that in the past, closures had been agreed on economic grounds, but did not accept that the NCB planned to close the pit because it could not work the coal.

HM Inspectorate

Robert (Bob) W Dale (5065) NUM Mining Engineer retired at the end of 1975.  He was previously Manager at Markham, then Harworth before joining the NUM in 1955. I met him on several occasions during his visits to the pit on business and found him a very genial pipe smoking man who liked a cup of tea.

A Further Pay Rise

A further pay rise of £6 per week was agreed under the Governments Incomes Policy in March 1976. However, only one quarterly bonus payment was made under the Production Bonus Scheme because production did not exceed the target. The scheme was thus ended by default.

Lound Hall Mining Museum

From 26th March 1976, Lound Hall Museum (North Nottinghamshire) became the National Mining Museum.   Dr Alan R Griffin, Area Industrial Relations Officer for North Nottinghamshire  Area, had created it originally.  In the photo he is seen examining two old lamps. Ron Storer from Edwinstowe HQ was deeply interested in the project also. Artefacts from collieries were collected and displayed here, including the old wooden headstocks from Brinsley colliery. Surface galleries were laid out and once inside them it was like being underground with sections depicting various types of roof support, e.g. arches, cockering, cambs and legs and girders.

Output for 1975-1976

  • North Derbyshire  from 12 pits was 7,776,210 tons by 12,605 men at an OMS of 59.2 cwts
  • North Nottinghamshire  15 pits 10,588,672 tons by 17,306 men at 56.9 cwts
  • South Nottinghamshire  12 pits 9,646,477 tons and 15,763 men at 57.9 cwts OMS.

In North Nottinghamshire  Area there were now only 2 faces working at 550v, all the rest at 1,100v switchgear.  There were now only 7 handfilled Supply gate ends and one advanced heading and 12 ends cut out by main face machine.  At the Loader gate end there were 18 handfilled with 8 advanced headings, 3 Side-discharge Doscos and one SERDS and 2 Retreat faces with 4 SERDS.