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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

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1993 - Page 2

Silverhill Closed After 118 Years

In August 1894 colliers were forced to accept a 10% reduction in getting rates, new rate being 1s 4d (6⅔p) a ton. In October 1894 they asked for 1d (less than ½p) a ton rise getting rate and were out on strike for 5 weeks, but returned on an amicable Open lights were still being used at the coal face and would continue to do so until banned in 1923 when hand held battery lamps and oil lamps were introduced. Between 1913 and 1917 the DC (Direct Current) electric plant was changed to AC (Alternating Current) and transformers were introduced underground and the main underground haulages adapted to work at the increased power. Pan-type jigging conveyors were used at the coal face and the coal was delivered into small wooden tubs holding about 10 cwt. Jib-type undercutting machines replaced the Diamond cutters in 1925. The main haulage roads were supported by straight steel girders and wooden legs. These were replaced using 12’ 0” x 10’ 0” steel arches punch propped between and surrounded with cover boards. Around 1930 faces were straightened out and changed to longwall advancing panel work and rubber conveyors delivered coal from the face onto a gate belt which in turn loaded the coal into tubs at a gate loading point loading points in the gates that were laid up periodically to keep the maximum distance for the conveyor length to 300 yards (275m). The coal was then undercut later using AB15 cutters with gummers. The coal was bored and fired and loaded out by shovel. Rigid steel props and w bars replaced the wooden coal face supports although some wooden props were still used for certain conditions. The wooden tubs were replaced with larger steel tubs and ponies dispensed with. Manriding was introduced down Middle Dips. Slushers were introduced for stonework. Huwood power loaders were introduced in 1944 and later a multi jib Meco-Moore machine. In 1949 American style bord and pillar mining using short wall heading machines was tried down the Deep Hard North Dips, the coal being loaded out by Joy loader into shuttle cars that delivered the coal to the main loading point and hauled up the steep slope by 200hp endless rope haulage. The system failed after a relatively short time, probably due to the thinness of the seam at about 3’ 3” (1.0m). Several panels in the Deep Hard continued to be handfilled.

Pithead baths and canteen were opened in 1936-1937 along with a solarium that could be used under the supervision of a qualified masseur. It was thought that various treatments along with ultra violet light would rid men of the various aches and pains and injuries and keep them at work instead of them dropping off sick. Like many other collieries at the time several buses brought miners from the surrounding area to the pit and were allowed to park at the front of the canteen ready for knock off etc.

At one time there was a paddy train laid on from Sutton Northern station via Skegby. Men from Teversal shared these baths and facilities, being in the same company, and were transported to and from Silverhill to Teversal and reverse at shift times by a push and pull steam saddle tank loco hauling an old windowless boarded up 1903 LNER bogie carriage.

            lockersThere was always a rush from the train by the Teversal men as it approached the platform and many men jumped off and ran to try to beat the Silverhill men into the baths. However as more and more men were set on, lockers (1,500) for one became scarce and many were forced to double up and when the men from both pits were in the baths at nthe same time it was necessary to queue up to shower, and sometimes there was a free for all. Many times there were two men sharing a shower. Because of this quite a few men still bathed at home. When I first had a locker there in early 1954 (No 52, top) there were 3 of us using it. I never saw the other two as they were on normal shifts and I worked generally on split shift times. All I know is that sometimes my clean towel was used or my soap or a pair of clean socks had disappeared as well as other bits and pieces. The old adage was – ‘first there best dressed’. Mind you it didn’t really matter about soap because invariably if one got into a shower a ‘big hairy-arsed collier’ would suddenly brusquely start lathering your back with a few deft strokes with a sponge covered in soap bubbles then with the same sponge get you to scrub his back likewise. Prior to that I had to bathe at home and travel to work and back in pit clothes (see photo). Thankfully for me and the rest of the Teversal men new pithead baths were opened at Teversal later in 1954 and we all enjoyed a locker just for ourself, a leisurely shower and no crowding. It was idyllic, and we had a lovely pleasant Baths Superintendent Wilf, the very opposite of the grumpy old Mark at Silverhill.

Seams worked at the old Silver Hill pit were Top Hard 1869-1875 and Dunsil 1869-1876.

At the new Silver Hill pit, sunk 1875-78 to Silkstone (name changed to Blackshale 1923) at 418 yards (382m) worked to the south of the 100ft (30m) fault 1881-Sep 1917 (plan deposited 1918), re-opened 1985-1990, Low Main 1891-1933, worked either side of the main fault but abandoned because of ventilation and economic reasons), re-opened 1951-Apr 1985, Yard seam 1949–1953 (poor quality), Oct 1955 - Dec 1967 as a training face, Deep Hard seam developed 1913 (with open lights until 1923) – Nov 1967, Threequarter 2’ 6” (0.76m) exploratory heading and face 1927-1928 abandoned, new development 1947, face double unit 14/3/1949–9/11/1950; Piper 1948-29th Nov 1955 (Training Gallery -1967), developed 1965 and worked- May 1966-Sep 1967, heavily faulted, re-opened 1974-1989, and Yard seam re-opened 1967 as a Training face 87½ yards (80m) long, then finally 1988/89-1992. A total of 8 seams were worked.

EngineThe shafts were 446 yards (408m) and 357 yards (326m) deep and 15 feet (4.57m) diameter.  Shaft positions: SK46SE, No1 shaft E447172, N361664, No2 shaft E447133, N361620, Coopers shaft 10ft  (3.35m) dia, E447290, N361744, 80 yards (73m) deep to silt. The winding horizon, the Yard seam at No1 shaft was at 376.5m and at No2 shaft to the Low Main at 328m, where the distance between the Blackshale and the Low Main had been filled with debris and consolidated at 2.5m below the conductor weights level, total depth 417 yards (381m). Difference between seams: Top Hard to Deep Hard 220m, Deep Hard to Piper 91m, Piper to Low Main 52m, Low Main to Threequarter 5.3m, Threequarter to Yard 33.5m, Yard to Blackshale 18.3m. The colliery is situated on the Brimington anticline giving a dip of the seams about 1in4 to 1in5 in the pit bottom. The gradient slackens off inbye about 1in12 towards Pleasley and Glapwell.

FanThe output in 1914 was 170,058 tons and in 1945 it was 320,000 tons. An attempt to undercut the Blackshale coal was tried in 1896 but was not successful.  The first successful undercutting was in the Deep Hard in 1918 with an electric Diamond cutting wheel. 

1875-1890 modern screening plant; a steam-driven endless-rope haulage was installed underground. A Capel fan 12’ 6” (3.81m) dia x 11’ 6” (3.5m) wide driven by a disused winding engine replaced the furnace ventilation. 

Beehive coke ovens for Blackshale and Low Main coal for use at the Company’s works.  Another attempt to undercut the Blackshale coal, but it was not a success and they reverted back to hand got systems in stall working. Ponies were used to transport material to the faces and boys ganged the ponies to take runs of tubs of coal to the main road where the tubs were fastened to the endless rope using star clips. Empties were run into the gates up to the loading points using Smallman clips.

mouseMice were a pest underground and bred profusely firstly living off the pony feed, beetles and later on bits of food carelessly thrown about by miners from their snap tins. As at most pits they were eradicated by pest control officers engaged by the NCB. When I was a lad in the 1950s we used to catch them in bottles by enticing them in with scraps of food. Once in the bottle they could not get back out as the glass was too slippy.

Underground haulages were operated using steam power which was piped down the shaft from surface boilers. -1913 electricity introduced (direct current) and produced using horizontal steam driven engines driving dynamos of up to 300hp capacity. Some of the underground haulages were converted from steam driven to electric. 1890 and some haulage engines converted. Development of the Deep Hard seam began in 1913 and open lights were used. Output in 1914 was 170,058 tons, difficult roof conditions.  1913-1917 the DC electric plant taken out and main haulage system adapted to AC with transformers underground.  The power was conveyed overhead from a mixed pressure turbo generator at Teversal. New shaft cable installed. Drastic changes of operations as things had remained unchanged in management since 1888. In 1918 the first successful cutting wheel-type machine, by Diamond Co, of Wakefield was installed.  Electrically operated pan-type jig conveyors introduced, delivering into wooden tubs. New jib-type cutting machines were introduced in 1925.  Rope-hauled manrider introduced. Use of open lights (candles) abolished in 1923 and hand held battery lamps introduced. Steel tubs had replaced wooden ones in 1923. Cecil Vann, Corporal invented 2 tub arresters in 1929, one with a chain (similar to a Warwick girder and one with a thrown rail joint) – both for runaways. In 1930 rubber belt conveyors delivered coal into tubs. 

RoadwaySlushers were introduced for some work (shown right). This was a bucket with teeth that could be hauled with a steel rope usually from a small horsepower haulage engine. The bucket was pulled into the dirt pile and when reversed dug into the waste which was then loaded outbye onto a conveyor or into a tub. Power loaders were introduced on coal faces. Bord and pillar partial extraction in the Deep Hard North dips area was tried using American style Joy loaders and shuttle cars, 1945 but was not successful. Meco Moore cutter loaders (shown right) were used as well as AB 15 under cutters with hand filling. A Diesel Loco (named Cock o’ the North) was used for manriding and supplies in the Deep Hard to faces in the Hardwick Hall area, where a large pillar of support was left, to supplement the steep Middle Dips 3 rail endless rope-hauled manrider. All faces supplied with steel props replacing wooden ones except for special work or additions.  By 1945 all the haulage roads were 12’ x 10’ (3.65 x 3.05m) or 11’ x 9’ (3.35 x 2.75m). Modern battery cap lamps replaced the hand held ones. Coal prep plant updated 1947 and later a new plant was installed to accept Teversal coal, usually washed separately on the night shift, 2 Simon Carves wash boxes to clean 5” x ½” (0.13mm x 0.01m), one installed 1951 and the other in 1970 and the slurry cleaned in a Hirst Fine Coal Washer. The run of mine material screened at 5” (0.13m), stone removed, large coal crushed in a Beien Crusher to minus 5” (0.13m) and then added to raw coal, bunkered before washing. Washed cobbles could be loaded to road vehicles and centrifuged washed smalls and 38mm to 20mm coal delivered to a common conveyor, weighed and automatically blended with untreated smalls in a micro-processor controlled system. Mixed with filter cake and automatically sampled the product was delivered to the rapid-loading bunker or to a stockpile. New pit bank and tub creepers.  Large airlocks, for improved decking facilities at heapstead were built. New engineering workshops erected.  Surface fan generation changed from steam to electric. A staple pit bunker was built in the pit bottom in 1953/54. The seams dipped steeply and the shaft pillar was riddled with roadways, at the upper horizon in Top Hard and Dunsil and in the lower horizon by stone drivages, and roadways in Blackshale, Threequarter, Low Main, Yard, Piper and Deep Hard seams. A large pillar of support was left in the Deep Hard seam beneath Teversal shafts. Surface dirt handling, originally overhead bucket then Euclid scrapers introduced for tips. Methane drainage introduced and the gas was exhausted into the general body of the air stream underground. The fan was replaced with an Aerex single-inlet radial-flow fan 3.2m dia with a 1,400hp motor, and the standby fan was a Davidson 9’ 4” (2.84m) double-inlet with backward-curved aerofoil blades driven by an electric 500hp motor.  The Low Main ventilation was supplemented by a Davidson axial flow booster fan.