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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

Book 6

1987 Pages   1     2     3    4    5     6     7     8     9     10     11 

1987 - Page 5


On 13th June 1987 the Conservative Party Chancellor Nigel Lawson announced that a plan was in place for the privatisation of the coal industry. Cecil Parkinson MP (Cons) Minister for Energy 1987-1989 replaced Peter Walker MP. David Young MP (Cons) was Trade & Industry Secretary 1987-1992.

Part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974

From October 1987 Part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 applied to new mine water discharges from October 1986 with existing discharges coming under the Act. 

Grantham Canal for Cotgrave (South Nottinghamshire) less than 5 g.p.m. (gallons per minute)

Another water problem is the abstraction of water for colliery use as in the Water Act 1945.

Cotgrave (Nottinghamshire) produced its 13th and last one million with 1,000,252 tonnes from Deep Hard and Blackshale, with 1,417 men in year 1987-1988.

Security Of Collieries In Nottinghamshire Was Allotted To Group 4

From 1st April 1988 the security of collieries in Nottinghamshire was allotted to Group 4. All transport was sold off to NPT.

Charges at Laboratories

Also in future, charges were to be made at the Laboratories for any services.

Albert Wheeler

Albert Wheeler (7349) Director of Nottinghamshire Area gave a pledge that there would be no pit closures in Nottinghamshire if production goes up all round. He added that the good pits had got to produce more coal to help the pits that were having problems.

On 1st July 1988 Albert Wheeler (7349) Director of Nottinghamshire Area was promoted to Eastwood HQ and succeeded by Len Harris (7388) from Midlands Area, Coleorton.


On 12th October 1988 Secretary of State for Energy, Cecil Parkinson MP (Con) announced that British Coal was to be privatised. Also the electricity industry was to be privatised with 12 Electricity Boards.

Town and Country Planning

Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988 – new ‘Authorised site’ mentioned in the planning rules.

Further Legislation

Legislation passed during the year included the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1988; the Mines (Safety of Exit) Regulations 1988.

British Steel Was Privatised From 4th December 1988

British Steel was privatised from 4th December 1988. Eventually bought by India.

 New Redundancy Terms

New improved redundancy terms funded by British Coal were introduced from 1st December 1988 for a limited period to August 1989.

Conciliation Scheme

British Coal continued to hold bi-lateral meetings with the individual unions. The NUM still refused to accept the conciliation scheme agreed by the UDM, in fact the NUM called a ballot of its members on industrial action in December regarding the pay claim, but it was rejected.

Restructure in British Coal

From 1st January 1989 there was a Group and Area re-structure in British Coal as the industry was once again reorganised. Four Areas including Nottinghamshire and Central Area (Derbyshire) plus four at Group status reported to Albert Wheeler MBE (7349), Director of Group Operations.

A new 3 grade structure for Colliery Managers based on consistently achieved saleable output was implemented.

Manpower Halved

Early in 1989, the manpower at both Cotgrave and Gedling collieries was halved in an attempt to improve efficiency. The average age for miners throughout the country was 34.

Landscaping Department

At Bretby a Landscaping department for tips set up in the late 1970s / 80s proved that there had been excellent restoration work carried out at Bentinck, Bevercotes, Bilsthorpe, Clipstone, Cotgrave, Manton, New Hucknall, Ollerton, Sutton, Sherwood, Warsop, all in Nottinghamshire.


The Management and Administration of Safety and Health at Mines Regulations and Approved Code of Practice otherwise known as the Administration Package and MASHAM draft was issued and I was charged with the task of checking the document on behalf of our department, to note any changes etc from previous Regulations of which this package had encompassed. I met our National Surveyor Albert Scholfield at Clipstone to make him aware of the differences from the old Regulations etc.

Various New Regulations

New Regulations from 1st April 1989 were introduced regarding safety of exit from underground in all coal mines.

The Prevention of Inrushes in Mines and the Noise at Work Regulations 1989 enacted.

Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 – Reg 26 referred to battery powered vehicles working at a safety lamp mine to be approved. The Use of Electricity in Mines. The Application Codes of Practice for First Aid.

The Valuation for Rating (Plant & Machinery) Regulations 1989, came into force on 7th April.


1st October 1989

  • John CH Longden (9134) Deputy Operations Director was appointed Acting Director then later Director for Nottinghamshire Area replacing
  • Len Harris (7388) who was appointed Regional Director of Group Operations for the North
  • Albert Wheeler (7349) was appointed Regional Director for the South and Midlands
  • David S Widdowson (8857) Operations Manager Nottinghamshire Area appointed Deputy Director (Operations) 30th Oct and from 1st April 1990 Assistant Group Director (Operations) for the new Nottinghamshire Group
  • David S Crisp (9601) ex Manager for Cotgrave likewise

Ear Protectors

From 1st October 1989 it was required that ear protectors were to be worn by all workers before going underground and also in some surface areas.

Industrial Relations and Staff departments were merged during 1989 and relocated to Eastwood Hall.

Pay Increases

In November 1989 pay increases were implemented to all mineworkers under the deal negotiated by the UDM.

New training methods were introduced once again, but this time Training Managers were appointed at some pits.

Noise Regulations

From 1st January 1990 the Noise Regulations came into force and ear defenders had to be worn in certain areas where noise levels were high. Household notices were posted identifying same.

Voluntary Redundancy Terms

New Voluntary Redundancy terms were agreed from 1st January to March 1993, funded again by British Coal. The NUM still refused to accept the conciliation scheme accepted by the UDM.

New redundancy terms announced for Industrial Staff.

New Nottinghamshire Group Was Formed

The new Nottinghamshire Group was formed from 5th February 1990, earlier than the planned date of 1st April when British Coals reorganisation changed all existing Areas to 8 Groups.

  • John CH Longden (9134) was confirmed as Group Director
  • Asst (Admin) Accountant David Langdon
  • David S Crisp (9601) died 1991/92? and David S Widdowson (8857) died 2008, were appointed Assistant Group Directors, the post of Production Manager being phased out.
  • Chief Mining Engineer, R A (Tony) Caunt (8028)
  • Technical Services, Roger Bexon (9393)
  • Marketing & Quality Control Mike P Gore
  • Employee Relations Jim C Rhodes -1991
  • Head of Engineering / Electrical Engineer David R Oldham
  • Mechanical Engineer David L Miller
  • Civil Engineer Don Brown
  • Development and Tunnelling Engineer Brian H Orton (9492)
  • Strata Control Engineer Ray T Keeton (Surveyors cert)
  • Minerals Management Engineer Graeme E Marshall (4894) ARICS -1991
  • Geologist Chris T Thorne BSc -

Cotgrave 611,226 tonnes, Deep Hard and Blackshale, 555 men, Manager Reg J Fitzpatrick (10961), Deputy Manager Mike W Stephenson (9999), Assistant Manager Dave A Marriott (9489), Undermanager Tim J Fifoot (11815)

All Collieries In The Country Were Re-Valued By The Inland Revenue

All collieries in the country were re-valued by the Inland Revenue during 1989-1990, under the Valuation for Rating (Plant and Machinery) Regulations, 1989. Usually 3 days were allotted to each colliery in order to interview top management personnel, visit selected parts of the underground workings and parts of the surface. Self or Tony Barnes as Senior Surveyors, and Colliery Surveyors accompanied the Inland Revenue Valuers on all visits and interviews. Senior management personnel at the pits gave an appraisal of the performance of the mine in question. Mining personnel also accompanied the underground parties. An Estates Surveyor Jeff Woods accompanied the team for the surface visit. Figures for each mine were available by the end of the year, showing the value of all plant, reserves, etc with a grand total for the colliery, after various allowances for depreciation of plant etc. Values for some of the larger collieries reached around £30m (e.g. Ollerton). Inland Revenue Mineral Valuers were David Jacobs, Mike Gallagher ARICS (ex Assistant at Silverhill, previously Blidworth, Apprentice at Bilsthorpe, and Mansfield) and Keith Lumsdon from North East (Managers’ Cert and Surveyor’s cert) drafted in to assist.

Redundancy Terms For Miners Were Enhanced

The redundancy terms for miners were enhanced in March 1990. British Coal Corporation announced their new strategy. Albert Wheeler (7349) was appointed Regional Director for the Midlands and South and Len Harris (7388) for the North of the country. There was also a reaffirmation of the Colliery Review Procedure, including the Unions’ ability to refer closure issues to the Independent Review Body.

British Coal accepted responsibility for the restoration of the surface area and tips of collieries which would be closed in the 4 years after March 1990.

New Pay Structure For Miners Began

Pay for one day 34.05, plus Incentive bonus 10, Attendance bonus 8.35, Concessionary bonus 50p, making a daily total pay of 52.90, giving a wage of 255.70 for 5 days and 305.45 for 6 days.

  • Colliery Overmen 281.00 per week
  • Overmen 273.00
  • Deputy Grade 1 265.00
  • Grade 2 257.00
  • Attendance bonus for week end 10.55 / hour for Overmen and 9.95 for Deputies.

Mid week overtime

  • Overmen shift 9.45
  • Deputies 8.95, shift
  • Overmen 19.05
  • Deputies 18.00
  • Full shift for Overmen 38.10
  • Deputies 35.90, and week end hourly rates 10.55 and 9.95 respectively.

Record Output From A Blackshale Face At Cotgrave

A record output of 17,015 tonnes from a Blackshale face at Cotgrave (South Nottinghamshire) was produced in April 1990.

NUM Members Sign For UDM Pay Deal

NUM members sign for UDM pay deal. They were not allowed to negotiate on their own. A major breakthrough was achieved when UDM Officials negotiated a pay deal incorporating salary status.

The Environment Pollution Act 1990 was enacted. Unfortunately this was very bad news for coal as is outlined in various parts.

A further 2 years pay and conditions was negotiated by the UDM and British Coal.

British Coal Was Restructured Again

British Coal was restructured from 1st October 1991, with the introduction of 5 Groups instead of Areas. Nottinghamshire Area became Nottinghamshire Group.

It would appear that the top people in the industry couldn't make their mind up. To change the title yet again. It was obviously not thought through properly the first time. All plans needed the titles amending yet again, apart from all letter heads etc. Of course it was public money. It was still an open purse.

The Coal Industry Bill – contained powers for the repeal of the 1908 Coal Mines Regulation Act (8 hours) which limits the mine workers’ and officials’ hours of work underground.

The Electricity Act 1989

Provided for the privatisation of the electricity industry in Great Britain. In 1990 the beginning of the privatisation of the Central Electricity Generating Board, when the assets of the CEGB were broken up into 3 new companies: PowergenNational Power andNational Grid. Later the nuclear component within National Power was removed and vested in another state-owned company called Nuclear Electric.

For the first time ever there were no fatal accidents in Nottinghamshire year ending 28th March 1992


Manpower figures Cotgrave 496/75, 52 Officials, 27 WPIS, 902,411 tonnes (highest for 4 years, was 1,000,252 tonnes in 1987-88, 4 faces 1,417 men)

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992
  • The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
  • The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 were enacted.
How things have changed since the pre-Victorian age of mining, in more ways than one. All employees to be offered a free comprehensive health check from early 1993. The various tests would include hearing, eyesight, blood tests for cholesterol, blood sugar etc, and augmented the periodic X-ray programme.

In August 1992 a Deputys Reference Book pocket book was issued in the Nottinghamshire Group. It had about 45 pages:

31 Collieries Would Have To Cease Production

On 13th October 1992, J Neil Clarke, Chairman of British Coal announced that out of the sum total of 50 collieries in the country, 31 would have to cease production, (27 to be closed and 4 put on care and maintenance), due to the amount of coal that the power generators would need to purchase from British Coal in future. For example at PowerGens Ratcliffe power station in Nottinghamshire there was a huge mountain of coal stock, sufficient to last until next summer. At the power stations throughout the country there was a total of almost 47 million tonnes of reserves (33mt at pits and 14mt at power stations) and the executives of PowerGen and National Power told British Coal executives that they would have to reduce their output tonnage substantially if they were the market, with an order for 40 million tonnes in 1993 falling to 30 million tonnes in subsequent years of the 5 year contract, with a substantial reduction in the price of the coal over the same period. What a body blow for the miners of the local pits where the greater part of the output went to the Trent-side power stations.

10 Would Close Immediately

A dramatic statement was made in the House of Commons on the same day 13th October 1992, by the Conservative Minister of Trade and Industry Michael Heseltine, who announced that due to market forces these collieries would have to close, 10 of them immediately, including Silverhill and Cotgrave, with 7 Nottinghamshire pits in total to close with a loss of 6,000 men.

Pits To Close

Cotgrave 1964, 900,000 tonnes from 2 seams, Parkgate and Deep Hard, 620 men, to close immediately

On 19th October 1992 there was uproar in Parliament. Conservative backbenchers forced Michael Heseltine to review 21 of the proposed closures of 31 pits out of a total of 50 pits.

27 pits were to close and 4 put on care and maintenance. It was stated that there was no market for all the pits and there was a need to reduce output by 25m tonnes per year because of over capacity.

At Ratcliffe power station there were mountains of coal, sufficient to last into next year. It would mean that 30,000 jobs were to go.

Many overseas produces were stated to have better geological conditions and lower labour costs.

British Coal was slowly reducing costs and although the industry would become more efficient there were certain things that could not be changed and British Coal had to compete with others in the World market.

There were rallies in London led by NUM President Arthur Scargill.

UDM President Roy Lynk (later awarded the OBE) staged a ‘stay in’ underground in Silverhill pit bottom for several days as a token gesture. Of course it was to no avail. It had already been designated to close. The miners wanted a general strike. The TUC organised a campaign.

There was a Commons debate on 21st October 1992, and the Conservative Government was forced to grant more concessions.

British Coal withdrew its proposals and energy policy in general but entered into statutory consultations on the proposed closure of the 10 collieries irrespective of the review.

Job Shops set up by British Coal Enterprise in 1987 were helping to find work for many of our local miners thrown out of work by pit closures or manpower reductions.

British Coal had to give oral evidence to the Trade and Industry committee, regarding the collieries in question.

On 21st December 1992 in the Queens Bench Division of the High Court, British Coal was told not to close any of the 10 collieries. The decisions made on 13th October were unlawful but rendered ineffective on 19th October.

On 11th February 1993, British Coal published a detailed response to the Trade and Industry Committee report. A consultation on the draft report by Boyds on 22nd February. The final report was available on 15th March. The report confirmed that the pits were loss making and acknowledged that the profitability of any operation depended on there being a market for its product.

British Coal Nottinghamshire Group end of March 1993: Cotgrave 353 u/g (nil face or dev), 53 s/f, total 406, plus 31 Officials and 16 WPIS, 42 Staff, nil

The President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine appointed Boyd’s, (American) International Mining Consultants, on 23rd December 1992, to report on the 10 pits in accordance with the views expressed by Lord Justice Glidewell.

Production throughout the country was over producing at the rate of ¼ million tonnes a week. British Coal would supply 40m tonnes to the power generators in 1993-1994 and then 30m tonnes a year to 1997-1998. The Government would provide a subsidy to British Coal and to licensed mines for additional deep-mined tonnages sold for the generation of electricity. This allowed British Coal to phase the closure of collieries and give the coal industry the chance of a competitive future in the private sector. It would appear that the increased coal produced by efficient means had created the over-production. In other words in would appear that British Coal had ‘shot itself in the foot’.

British Coal announced that the enhanced redundancy terms would continue until the end of December 1993. The new redundancy terms had been approved by the Government. The maximum payment was to be £37,000 depending upon the length of service and average weekly earnings. The £10,000 lump-sum supplement was restored. Jobs were to be lost at collieries, both underground and surface, and clerks, officials and management staff and reductions in numbers of people at existing mines that were to carry on were to be reduced also, with proportionate reduction of Area/Group staff at HQs.

The beleaguered mining industry suffered another blow when Neil Clarke told delegates at the annual conference of the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers that 3,000 white-collar jobs were to be axed and more pits were under threat so half the white-collar and managerial staff would have to go if the industry was to remain competitive.