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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


  1983 Pages    1     2     3     4     5     6     7  

1983 - Page 5

Pleasley Closed After 108 Years And Merged With Shirebrook

Photo from Daren Haywood

On 31st December 1983, Pleasley colliery (North Derbyshire) sunk in 1873-1875 adjacent to the village of Pleasley by the Stanton Ironworks Co was closed after 108 years and merged with Shirebrook, many of the 600 men being absorbed. 

The highest manpower was 1,428 in 1953 and the highest output 612,397 tons in 1957.

The Midland Railway finally established a branch line to the colliery after struggling due to bad weather.

Both winding engines were originally built by the Worsley Mesnes Iron Co in 1874. This opened up markets previously unreachable as the only outlet had been by cart and horse to local markets. Coal was reached 15th Feb 1875.

Wooden headgear replaced with steel at South shaft in August 1900 position E449843 N364335. Wooden headgear replaced by steel in a weekend in 1901 at North Shaft No1 E449902 N364399. This shaft was called the Florence pit when it was sunk.

A Thornewill and Warham engine was installed at Pleasley.

The original sinking engine from Gilfach in South Wales was transferred to Bilsthorpe for sinking there in 1925 but would remain as the main steam engine for No2 shaft or Nightingale pit there until electrification. Note the shafts were named after Florence Nightingale but the names would disappear.

There was an overwind at one time smashing the engine. The North shaft winding engine 1904 built by Lilleshall and South UC shaft engine Markham 1923. Both shafts were 14’ 6” (4.41m) dia. 83 yards 1 ft (76m) of Permian or Magnesian limestone was sunk through and water from the measures at times reached 1,000 gallons per minute.

Cast iron tubing starting 18 yards (16.5m) down was installed for 117 yards (107m) then the rest of the shafts down to 514 yards (470m) was done in 9” (0.23m) brick walling. 5 thin seams of coal passed through before reaching High Main 2’ 0½“ (0.62m) at 450’ 4” (137.3m), 4 more thin seams, ? Wales coal with partings 5’ 4” (1.63m) at 581’ 4” (177m), 5 thin seams, Clown 2’ 5” (0.73m) at 894’ 2” (272.5m), 1 thin streak, Main Bright coal, bat and clunch 8’ 5” (2.56m) at 960’ 2” (292.6m), 1 thin seam, High Hazles 1’ 11” (0.59m) at 1215’ 0” (370.3m), 1st St John’s 1’ 11” (0.59m), 4 thin seams, Top Hard 5’ 6” (1.68m) at 1548’ 6” (472m), sump at 1575’ 0” (480m).

The amount of water encountered whilst sinking was too much for the pumps to cope with at about 90 yards (82m) and sinking operations were suspended for some months whilst new more powerful pumps were purchased and installed.

Coal was raised in 4 tubs, 2 on each deck at the DC shaft with about 13½ cwt in each tub, loaded and unloaded simultaneously at 2 deckings.

The winding pulleys were 16 ft (4.9m) dia. The steam driven winding engine had 2 horizontal cylinders 40” x 72”, plain drum, 20 ft dia, 6 ft 10 ins wide (1.0m x 1.83m x 6.0m) with 4 drop valves to each cylinder. This engine was equipped with a foot brake, steam brake and a Melling steam reverser. The drawing ropes were of plough steel, 4¾ inches (0.12m) in circumference, fitted with a King’s patent detaching hooks. The conductors were pitch pine, 4 to a cage, bolted to oak buntons app 9” x 9” (0.23m). The winding engine at the UC shaft had 2 horizontal cylinders 34” x 72” (0.86 x 1.83m) fitted with ordinary slide valves, plain drum 16’ 6” (5.02m) x 6’ 10” (2.08m). 4 wire rope conductors 13/8“ (0.03m) to each cage and other furnishings at DC shaft with the exception that the UC shaft was fitted with 2 covers to close the top of the shaft that were lifted by the cage coming up and dropped as the cage descended.

Output from the mine was about 1,300 tons for 9 hours winding per day. The whole of the coal was thrown onto a large travelling ‘band’ 200 ft (61m) long x 4’ 6” (1.38m) wide at 65 ft (19.8m) per min. The coals picked off by hand – large brights, best hards, cannel – these being thrown into the relevant wagons beneath. The remaining coal fell onto an elevator and by various drums transferred the coal to a fixed screen 4 ft (1.2m) wide and at a slope of 1in2. By various sized holes in the screen 4 kinds of coal were separated, the dust falling through bars, the nut slack, through another mesh with cobbles and nuts through other sized screens.

Top Hard seam section: best brights 1’ 0” (0.30m), hards 7” (0.16m), soft coal (house) 3” (0.08m), cannel (for gas) 9” (0.23m), coal (minge) 5” (0.13m), best hards 1’ 1” (0.33m) and bottoms 1’ 0” (0.30m).

Water for the boilers was pumped from the River Meden but was muddy and needed cleaning by passing it through Torrent filters. Water out of the pit was discharged into the Meden below this point.

Coal was worked by longwall stalls with gates at 60 yards (55m) apart and driven on end or as far as half on end. No explosives used in getting. Coal was loaded into trams on the face and ganged by pony to the main haulage roads. Ponies were used for supplies also and over 80 were used at one time.

A motor drive on a dip plane rope some 850 yards (777m) long hauling 500 tons a day, the tubs being fastened to the rope using 10” (0.25m) long Fisher clips. Mine ventilation was by 2 Waddle fans 40 ft (12.2m) dia with 14 ft (4,3m) inlet used alternatively on a monthly basis. At 50 revs per min and 2” water gauge this achieved app 81,450 cu ft per min of air circulating round the workings.

Pit yard lit by carbon arc lamps in 1910, one of first in the country. The offices built later are at the entrance to the pit yard. Swan electric lights were introduced as an experiment underground in June 1881 the first pit in the country to do so. Lights were established along a main road and also in one stall.

There was a high incidence of nystagmus during 1920 and better lighting was called for.  Ceag lamps were issued for Deep Hard seam workers.

Electricity was used for used for cutting.

A new Welfare Institute opened 1925 and the colliery was the second to have a Medical centre at the pit head.

As at many collieries in the past, a band was encouraged at the pit by the Colliery Co and these men were always ‘in work’ when others were on short time. The idea was to encourage and teach youngsters so that the band could compete in national contests, putting Pleasley on the map. In 1925 new instruments were purchased for the Pleasley Band at the cost of £625.

The Pleasley Division of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade was formed in 1927 and by 1928 a motor ambulance was in use.

The Pithead baths was completed in 1934.

A renewal of the exemption 125 (b) for portable drills was granted by the Mines Inspector.

A Baum wash box was installed in 1939.

New pit bottom diesel loco house after reconstruction shown above.

Surface locos 4’ 8½” gauge: steam engines replaced by diesels.

Underground 2’ 1” gauge: 2 diesel 4wDMFs in 1949 and 3 4w BEF locos in 1955.

There was serious underground fire in 1942.

Reorganisations were carried out 1949-1956 when 3 ton mine cars were used to wind coal at both shafts using double deck cages. A further reorganisation was begun in 1969 following the colliery being part of the North Derbyshire Area from April 1967.

North shaft Top Hard seam old pit bottom shown to the left.

A board was erected on the colliery curtilage wishing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II congratulations on her Silver Jubilee as she drove past the colliery in 1977.

Both shafts were kept open initially for ventilation for Shirebrook (2,126 men). The South shaft was kept open (895 yards (818m) deep) until Oct 1992 but the shallower North shaft was abandoned in February 1985 and filled in.  Both shafts were capped in April 1994. Height above sea level 504 feet (153.5m).

Seams worked:

  • Top Hard reached 15/2/1875 and worked continually until 1952
  • Dunsil -1966
  • 1st Waterloo -1941-1951, 1952 and - June 1970
  • Deep Hard 1923-June 1927 and Sep 1946-1983
  • Piper 1963-1968 and again 1972-1978 and merged Shirebrook
  • Deep Hard/Piper combined seam -1983
  • An exploratory steep 1in1 head to prove the Deep Soft in 1957, stopped on 26/10/1957 but only abandoned on 31/12/1983, (development not pursued) and a previous entry into the seam in 1920s from the Top Hard to Deep Hard drift.
  • Began deepening South shaft in 1920 and a drift from Top Hard to Waterloo at 1in4 continued down at 1in2 to Deep Hard level. Shaft depth 899 yards (822m), winding level 754½ yards (690m).
    Changed over from naked lights to hand held battery lamps 1923.            

The photo shows the Hollins Mill owned by William Hollins. A large support pillar was left in the Top Hard seam to protect the large structure from damage.

In 1942 80,100 lb of sheathed Plastex explosive was used with 142,500 shots and in 1943 146,500 shots were fired (only 7 misfires), all using low tension electric detonators.

A major reorganisation was carried out 1949-1955.  A new shaft sinking had been planned just prior to the Second World War in 1939 but was not pursued.

PY54 scheme ... a new pit bottom loco circuit was driven at 2nd Waterloo horizon at the North shaft deepened 54½ yards (50m) and battery locos and mine cars, spring retarders and lofcos introduced in 1955 and a central loading point 700 yards (640m) inbye to collect coal from Dunsil and Waterloo seams. 

Heapstead building reconstructed and conveyors to washery plant. A tippler was installed at the DC North shaft pit top. An unusual staple pit up sinking was driven between the two horizons by Contractors Matthew Hall. 

The scheme to couple through to Shirebrook was started 1979 and the last mine car of coal was raised at Pleasley in May 1979, and after then all coal mined there was transported through the drift connection to Shirebrook and raised there. The new fan house and evasée is shown to the right.

Huwood power loader installed 1950.

German Loebbehobel ploughs were introduced in 1952 in Deep Hard, and first prop free front. See below. At the South shaft pit bottom at Deep Hard horizon 3 ton mine cars for winding coal were installed in 1956.  The cost was £900,000. The Surveyor Norman Smedley and his staff moved into an upstairs office in the main building in 1954 having previously been based at the old Stanton Ironworks Sub-Area offices at Teversal.

Following the abandonment of the Top Hard seam all the ponies were withdrawn, after 80 years, up to 120 being employed in 1908. Ponies were still used on supplies until c1970,

New Pithead baths built 1961-1962.

Trepan-shearer introduced in 1964/65 to eliminate supply gate stable hole.

Geological problems in 1967/68 threatened closure of the pit, however record output for w.e. 16/3/1968 was 16,451 tonnes.

The first hydraulic Anderson Boyes shearer machine was installed at Pleasley.

In April 1970 face teams working on P32s coalface established an all-time pit record when 10,923m was cut.

In 1965 7 holes were drilled from 400s LH Gate up to Deep Hard but only 2 proved a small amount of water. 12 more holes were drilled Oct 1976 to Feb 1977 and 4 holes drained 1,000,000 gallons, the water drying up in June 1977. Following nuisance water seeping through a further series of 8 dewatering boreholes were drilled from Piper P43s to old Deep Hard workings 12 yards (11m) above. 3 of the holes drained a total of 600,000 gallons.


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