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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

1973 1974

  1976 Pages     1     2 

1976 - Page 2

Small Hand-Held Programmable Calculators
Issued To Colliery Surveyors

Modernisation was introduced for surveyors with the Hewlett-Packard HP65 hand-held programmable calculators, at 400 each saved many hours of work for calculating the results of surveys etc. 

Electronic Distance Measurer

A Kern DM500 electronic distance measurer was available.  Previously the DI 10 system, new in 1973 was very cumbersome and heavy, requiring a large ‘car’ battery to operate it (and a team of men to carry it !).  All instruments of this nature need exemptions from the HMI and can only be used in underground roadways where the methane content is less than 1¼%. Methanometer readings were taken before any connections were made and also periodically throughout the exercise.  Most pits in the region were soon using the new system.


Jim Callaghan took over as Prime Minister (Labour) from 5th April 1976 to 4th May 1979 from Harold Wilson who suddenly stood down. Harold realised he was beginning to forget things and particularly at the box in Parliament.
Jim Callaghan will be remembered for his quote during the Winter of discontent when there were strikes etc....’Crisis, what crisis?’


On the exploration front, ideas regarding a new Coalfield in East Nottinghamshire /West Lincolnshire in the Vale of Till and Vale of Witham were being examined.

South Midlands Area

The South Midlands Area now absorbed the Kent Coalfield pits of

  • Betteshanger 1,062 men in No6 seam, 398 s/f
  • Snowdown 672 in No6 seam, 214 s/f
  • Tilmanstone 613 in No6 seam, 215 s/f.
    were at Coleorton and journeys by management to Kent were made by aeroplane from East Midlands Airport.

Pye Hill Rack-a-Track

At Pye Hill (South Nottinghamshire) a Pitcraft Ltd Rack-a-Track system to a trepanner was made in the 68” (1.73m) thick 4 leaf Blackshale seam at 500 yards (457m) deep.  The first successful trial had been in 1973 with an AB 200hp SERDS (Single ended ranging drum shearer).

Surface Drifts

Surface drifts were now in operation at Arkwright, High Moor and Renishaw Park (North Derbyshire) and Cadley Hill (South Derbyshire) and Measham (Leicestershire) and Bentinck, Moorgreen and Pye Hill (South Nottinghamshire).
50 out of 246 pits in the country now had surface drifts.

Metrication Of Measurements

The NCB had a Metrication Day on 1st May 1976, and from now on, all weights would be in tonnes of 2,200 lb and not tons of 2,240 lb.  A metric tonne of course is 1,000 kilograms.  Measurements in yards, feet and inches would gradually give way to measurements in metres, centimetres and millimetres.  This was a major task for surveyors – educating everybody else at the pit from the Manager down to the workmen.  My team of survey linesmen had been learning about the metric measurement system for several weeks before, and on metrication day we threw away all the imperial tapes. However the management team had to have a simple conversion chart supplied by me, to refer to for some months ahead, until the ‘penny dropped’. We were even informed by someone ‘high up at Area HQ’ that we were now working with the ‘big ton’, i.e. metric tonne of 1,000 kg (1 kg = 2.2 lb app = 2,200 lb, instead of the imperial ton of 2,240 lb. This is because at all collieries the tonnage appeared to ‘increase’.  For example 20,000 tons was now 20,321 tonnes! They said it looked better on paper and was quoted as the ‘long ton’ – crackpots!

Moorgreen Tonnage

The tonnage at Moorgreen (South Nottinghamshire) slumped and went down to 443,209 tonnes with 1,089 men. 

Generation Of Electricity Ceased

Ray Ilett the Power House attendant observing the last ‘puffs’ of the apparatus

On 1st May 1976 the generation of electricity ceased at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire).  Electricity had been supplied to the village since 1926.  Hot water had also been supplied to the colliery housing, heated by exhaust steam from the winders via a calorifier and pumped around the village to all houses except at the bottom of Whinney Lane.

The photo shows Ray Ilett the Power House attendant observing the last ‘puffs’ of the apparatus before the conversion. In the ‘office’ in the background can be seen the various dials that had to be read and booked by staff personnel during the strike periods. That was another job that I did a few times.

Coal Industry Benevolent Trust

The Coal Industry Benevolent Trust was established to assist families and dependants of those killed at work in circumstances that do not warrant public appeals such as major accidents do.


A new administration block was built at Annesley (South Nottinghamshire).

New Hucknall Centenary

A Centenary Open Day was held at New Hucknall colliery (South Nottinghamshire).  Cows were now grazing on the re-claimed grass-covered dirt tips of the past.


Sir Derek Ezra MBE was re-appointed as Chairman of the NCB for 3 years from July 1976.  He had been a member of the Board since 1965, Deputy Chairman 1967-1971 and Chairman since 1971.
F Donald Davies was appointed Director, South Nottinghamshire  Area (1976-1980) replacing Jack E Wood (4395) who had transferred as Director to Doncaster Area.

There were now 236 pits in the country producing 107 million tons of coal.


Jim B Kerr (5266) Production Manager (then Special Duties following a breakdown?) North Nottinghamshire  Area committed suicide on the London Underground (Holborn station, Bakerloo Line). He had been Manager at Warsop and Harworth in the past. I got on well with him.


At Moorgreen (South Nottinghamshire) the Second Waterloo seam was abandoned and output was concentrated in the Blackshale seam.

Safety Plays

Safety plays were re-introduced whereby volunteers at collieries made up and acted out scenes from the pits, with special emphasis on Rules and Regulations and dangerous practices, with some light-hearted entertainment thrown in. They were very popular. Ollerton had a really good team made up mainly from the Safety department.

Skip Winding

Skip winding was introduced at Rufford No1 shaft (North Nottinghamshire) in 1976 along with a 400-ton bunker, and the diesel locos and mine cars were withdrawn.  7 ton skips were installed at Bolsover (North Derbyshire) to increase shaft capacity to 350 tons per hour from the 280 tons per hour previously, when 22 cwt mine cars were stacked 6 a time in the cages.

Sivad System

A John Davis and Son MkII Sivad system for signalling, and communications equipment, was installed at Blidworth.

Sale Of NCB Houses To Sitting Tenants

The sale of NCB housing commenced on 1st August 1976, with sitting tenants being offered the freehold at prices starting around £2,500 for the older houses.

Creswell Colliery Village

A £1m improvement at Creswell colliery village (Derbyshire) won a Certificate of Commendation in a national conservation contest.  280 houses had been modernised.  The village was centred on a large green containing a bandstand and shrubberies and a children’s’ playground and a special tramway to bring in the miners’ concessionary coal.  By May 1974, bathrooms, kitchens had been modernised and solid fuel central heating installed.

Rescue Station

Frank Heald (3274), District Manager of Central Rescue Stations at Mansfield Woodhouse 1966-1976 retired and was succeeded by Peter Hallam (4279) (Safety Engineer North Nottinghamshire  Area) Aug 1976-1981. John Jeff Street continued as Superintendent at Mansfield Woodhouse, AE Smith at Chesterfield, C Hodgkiss at Ilkeston and E Bonser had succeeded DG Roberts at Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Surface Bunker

A surface bunker was commissioned at Bolsover (North Derbyshire).

New Machines

An Eickhoff floor-based shearer was introduced at Creswell (a Derbyshire  pit in North Nottinghamshire  Area) in the 2’ 11” (0.89m) thick Threequarter seam following several ignitions at the face.  The first AS Buttock shearer, first introduced in the South Midlands Area was introduced at Renishaw Park (North Derbyshire) then Blidworth (North Nottinghamshire), followed by Ireland, Shirebrook (North Derbyshire) and Clipstone (North Nottinghamshire).

Shotfiring Eliminated At Roadhead

At Thoresby (North Nottinghamshire) shotfiring was eliminated at the airway end of 93s Panel in the Top Hard seam, with a prototype machine enabling roadway advance to keep in line with coalface operations.  The machine had a drilling boom for cutting the roadway with a side discharge conveyor which delivered the dirt to a packing machine at the roadway side. An Eimco-Secoma RPH 35 drill, the first universal hydraulic rotary percussive drill to operate with fire resistant fluids (water emulsion) in the UK was used in the 1in11 drifts at Thoresby.  A single boom crawler mounted jumbo with drill slide and self contained power pack.  60 – 70 holes drilled and unit charges with water gel ampoules and milli-sec delay detonators fired the debris which was loaded out by Eimco 625 side dump loader.

Open Cut For Surface Drift

At Shirebrook (North Derbyshire) the open cut for the surface Jubilee Drift was commenced in October 1976. John E Hancock (6205) ex Manager Glapwell was the official in charge.

Safety Play Finals

The North Nottinghamshire  Area Safety Play final was held at the Devonshire Suite, Sutton-in-Ashfield in October and Ollerton colliery team beat Blidworth and Sherwood.  The regional final was held in November at the Speedwell Rooms, Staveley where Newstead beat Whitwell into second place and Ollerton into third.  These plays were very well received and hilarity overshadowed the grim reality as breaches in safety features were portrayed.  The plays carried on for a couple of years then the idea was replaced with ‘Safety Mind’ which was a series of quizzes on coal mining activities and rules.  Serious accidents still continued and the emphasis was on to get them reduced. Survey staff measure up each accident at a colliery, generally accompanied by the colliery Safety Officer / Engineer and a member of the Union (and HMI if of a serious nature). HQ Safety department and the Mines Inspectorate carried out in-depth investigation into each accident, with the aim of preventing similar accidents in the future.


Roy Stubbs (8193) Deputy Safety, was appointed Area Safety Engineer North Nottinghamshire  Area Oct 1976 (d 2011).

Moorgreen Tonnage

The tonnage at Moorgreen (South Nottinghamshire) slumped further and went down to 443,209 tonnes with 1,089 men.

European Record For
Face Heading At Ollerton

A National and European record was achieved at Ollerton (North Nottinghamshire) when a coalface heading in the new Parkgate seam at over 6 feet 6inches (2m) thick was advanced 229 yards (208m) in 7 days using a Dosco heading machine and setting 3 piece Hollybank flat topped arches, ending on 10th December 1976.  The Manager Walter Standage (5742) and me crawled through the hole just thirled by the Air Gate machine driven by the ATT (Area Tunneling Team) and I quickly noted that all was well on the surveying front (spot on!). Everyone was pleased with the new development.

Rubber Tyred Pony Locos Installed

Clayton steep-seam rubber-tyred battery locomotives were installed in the Parkgateseam as well as in the Top Hard pit bottom area (photo, Billy Humphries, one of my ex linesmen driving) and used for supplies handling. These ‘pony’ locos, only the second such installation, was pioneered at Welbeck the previous year and could be used on gradients up to 1in10.  Again a small team of us, piloted by Bobby Watson (9215), Assistant Manager visited Welbeck to sort out any snags, and I experienced driving one of the locos around the pit bottom circuit and found it very easy to handle. Garages for maintenance and battery charging were constructed.

Full-Arch Setting

In North Derbyshire  full-arch setting had been pioneered by a device attached to the Dosco boom, allowing arch to be lifted into position independently of cutting boom and also permitting a temporary support to be placed close to the lip.

Holbrook Closed

Holbrook (North Derbyshire) (No1 Area EMD, NCB) near Killamarsh was closed on 2nd December 1976.  Harry Cox (Sub-Area Surveyor), Dennis Booth (Surveyor at Brookhouse).

Opencast Sites

  • Blackwell A Winning I, II, III and IV (Plummet) 1st Waterloo, Waterloo Marker and 2nd Waterloo Apr 1976-20/11/1976
  • Brinsley Wharf (N Green) Cinderhill, Coombe, Top Hard and void, 1st Waterloo Lower, Waterloo Marker, 2nd Waterloo Upper, 2nd Waterloo Lower, 3rd Waterloo Sep 1974-July 1976
  • Broadmeadows 2nd and 3rd Waterloo 14/8/1976
  • Grassmoor 1st and 2nd St John’s 29/7/1976-20/12/1976
  • Hilcote Country Top Hard, Top Hard floor 3,770 tons, incidental coal, DP McErlain Ltd. Sep-Nov 1976
  • Kirkby Farm Park Swinton Pottery upper leaf 18” (0.45m), lower leaf 15” (0.38m) 25/9/1976
  • Newgate I  Threequarter seam
  • Park Meadow Deep Soft finished Apr 1976
  • Shilo Brown Rake, Deep Hard, Deep Soft, Piper, 2nd Waterloo, Upper and Lower Top Soft, Lower and Roof Soft May 1976.


Opencast Mining continued in the region with sites at

  • Brinsley Wharf 1st, 2nd, 3rd Waterloo and Waterloo marker seams being extracted
  • Church Gresley South West of Swadlincote, 7 seams
  • Donington 6 seams
  • Egstow 4¼ miles south of Chesterfield Top and Bottom Pipers
  • Golden Valley Extension 17/11/1975-10/1976
  • Shilo ½ mile north of Awsworth, Top Soft, Lower, Roof Soft, Deep Soft, Brown Rake, Deep Hard, Roof coal Piper
  • Shipley South North West of Ilkeston, Dunsil, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Waterloo
  • Woodend north of Huthwaite, Top Hard, Dunsil, 1st Waterloo
  • Wrang Farm Extension northeast of Temple Normanton, Top Hard, Dunsil Upper and Lower, 1st Waterloo, Waterloo Marker, 2nd Waterloo.

Chairman Of NCB Visited Bilsthorpe

Sir Derek Ezra Chairman of the NCB visited Bilsthorpe (North Nottinghamshire) and was escorted by Merrik Spanton (4612), Director, John Berry (6049) Deputy Director and Alan Allsop (9700) Deputy Manager.