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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947

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1993 - Page 15

Shirebrook Closed 1993, After 96 Years

Shirebrook colliery (North Derbyshire) sunk in 1895-1896 by the Shirebrook Colliery Co to the eastern edge of Shirebrook village about 4 miles North of Mansfield and 12 miles South East of Chesterfield, was closed on 7th May 1993 after 96 years

Shaft positions: SK56NW, No1 shaft 453100,366870, began sinking proper 30/3/1896 reaching the seam on 30 Mar 1896 and No2 shaft 453121, 366827 began sinking proper and reached the seam at 2pm 13 Apr 1896. The 2 shafts at 19 ft dia (5.8m) were sunk to 543 yards (496m) to the sump, the Top Hard seam at 530 yards (484.25m). A third shaft some 110 yards (105m) was sunk as a pump shaft, water being softened for the boiler plant for steam raising.

Arnold Lupton was the Mining Engineer originating from Sheffield and had sunk a pit previously at Whittington near Chesterfield. He had independent reports made by Mathew Hall, Manager at Lofthouse and Henry Fisher Manager at Clifton as to the best site to sink the colliery.

The Duke of Devonshire owned the land along with a couple of farmers Nicholson and Fowler and Squire Joseph Paget.

The estimated cost for 2 shafts, machinery, plant, sidings and buildings was £95,000. Capital was £150,000 and 1,500 shares were sold.

6 Railways were available in the area giving ideal outlets for the coal. They were the Midland, the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast, the Great Northern, the Great Eastern, the LNWR and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railways.

The Blacksmith’s shop had the usual furnace and they made all the necessary ironwork required at the colliery after the initial installation of equipment. The Blacksmiths along with the Carpenters / Joiners were permanent shaftsmen also who examined the shafts daily and did the required maintenance of the shaft furnishings.

The Fitter’s shop had a Clayton Shuttleworth twin cylinder compound engine and the Carpenter’s shop a single cylinder vertical machine by Clench and Co of Chesterfield that cost £132. The air pump was a single cylinder 300Kw Parsons turbine engine by N Watson and Co.

The original underground furnace of 1896 produced 125,000 cubic feet per minute at 2½” (0.063m) water gauge. The upcast shaft condition was deteriorating but the temperature of 130ºF (54½ºC) made it very difficult to work, so at last it was decided to erect an electrically driven Waddell fan in 1925/26 and abandon the furnace. It was a tandem compound costing £277 (Arnold Lipton design for Leeds Engineering Co). (There is another source that refers to a Capell fan made by the Lowmoor Co, being in use during 1914). The new fan generated 160,000 cfm at 2.8” (0.071m) water gauge and the shaft temperature dropped to 64ºF (18ºC).

Screens at a cost of £258 using twin compound belt made by Clench and Co of Chesterfield were erected and working by Jan 1898.

Power was supplied by Davey, Paxman and Co equipment.

The brickworks had a single cylinder belt drive up to 1937.

44 hand got stalls were producing around 1,200 tons per day, using ponies ganged to main haulages, however there was a strike in 1898 over pay rates as the men wanted parity with pits in the Leen Valley by an increase of 2d (1p) a ton getting rate. The men also wanted the Undermanager removed as he was unapproachable. 20 policemen were drafted in as some Welsh miners were brought in as blacklegs but after realising the situation they packed up and went back home. Production then increased gradually until 1901 and then there was a lull in the market and tailing off of orders that by 1904 there was short time working, completion being from the several pits around.

Lupton made sure of a permanent workforce by building a model village on the lines of the model village built by Emmerson Bainbridge at New Bolsover to attract good workmen as there were several other pits surrounding Shirebrook. They were provided with water and lighting. Shops were built and owned by the Co. A Welfare club was opened and football and cricket teams plus bands etc and religion was encouraged. However he was forced to suspend the Undermanager J Colley who was a friend and then Lupton left and handed over to JW Hay the Managing Director and Agent of the Co. The Manager of the mine at the time was W Langrick.

Highest manpower was 2,048 in 1984-1985 during the strike period and highest output 1.9m tonnes in 1987-1988.  Ponies were used underground and stables were in Top Hard and Main Hard pit bottoms.

Pleasley Colliery Merged to Shirebrook

Pleasley colliery sunk by the Stanton Ironworks Co 1873-1875 had been absorbed under a major scheme in 1983/84 and a connection made at the Deep Hard/Piper horizon. Eventually in late 1987 water from Teversal colliery, another pit sunk by the Stanton Ironworks Co, flowed through into Pleasley through a purpose made connection in July 1980 on the day the colliery was closed, and after filling the dip side workings at Pleasley had to be pumped through the connection to Shirebrook and raised there.

Underground locos 2’ 6” gauge 2 x 4wDMF CB15 CE 1977

Seams worked:

  • The Top Hard seam at 540 yards (494m) deep and 5’ 6” (1.68m) thick was worked from 1897-1961, there was a connection to Sherwood colliery
  • Main Hard (Clowne) 200 yards (183m) above Top Hard, 1943-Jan 1986
  • 1st Waterloo 2’ 5” (0.74m), weak flamper above seam, rock floor, 26/8/1944
  • Deep Soft 200 yards (183m) below Top Hard, 1955-92
  • Main Bright 3’ 5” (1.04m) 1973-July 89
  • Deep Hard -1986
  • Deep Hard/ Piper -1993
  • Low Main
  • Blackshale -1993.

In 1913, coal from Shirebrook was being exported abroad via Hull docks to Germany, Norway and Sweden and France, Spain, Italy and Russia.

An aerial ropeway for dirt tipping was erected in 1923

Pithead baths were opened in 1932 and a new headgear and washery plant was erected in 1933 and a new boiler plant in 1944 to cater for extra tonnage from the Clowne seam developed in 1943

Around ½m tons per annum was produced from the late 1890s to 1945.

The Deep Soft was developed in 1955 when the No2 shaft was deepened to 809 yards (740m) and equipped with a single cage and balance weight system for transporting men and materials to the inset at 787½ yards (720m. A £21m modernisation scheme was completed in 1981 in readiness for the merger of Pleasley the following year. 

In 1969 men were transferred from the closed Blackwell A Winning colliery to improve the output and the manpower was increased to 1,560 and the colliery was now completely mechanised. The output did increase to 1,049,000 tons in 1969/70 at an average of 4,465 tons a day.

Twin turret DECMT trials in Main Bright May 1976, 40” – 44” (102-112cm), 250 yards (229m) advancing face.

In 1984 there were 7 fully mechanised, power supported coal faces, (3 CMTs, 1 in-web shearer and 3 Ranging Drum Shearers working 18 machine shifts / day. Manriding to upper seams by endless rope and by 90hp Battery locos in the Deep Soft. Materials handling in the pit bottom by Pony battery locos.

A major reorganisation took place from 1958-1970 costing over £3m when the winders were replaced, No1 winder was a Markham and Co 5 tons dead load lift from Top Hard level with 6 tubs on 2 decks at 70 draws to the hour. No2 winder was by J and G Jorcey of Newcastle twin cylinder engine raising a single cage with 3 tubs.

Coal handling and coal prep was up rated. 

Skips were installed and a new shaft inset made and 1,313 yards (1,200m) of road driven.

No2 shaft was deepened in 1963-1964 to the Deep Soft at 756 yards (691m and a steep drifts from Top Hard down to the lower horizon). 

No1 shaft had a 2,500hp electric winder and wound two 5 ton mine cars from the Top Hard horizon at 34 draws per hour. 

Coal from Deep Soft and Piper was transported up No1 drift cable belt to Top Hard pit bottom. Coal from the upper seams was transported down No2 drift to Top Hard pit bottom.

No2 shaft had a 1,650hp electric twin-rope winder cage and balance weight and could wind 120 men or 2 cars of materials to the Clowne at 345 yards (315m) or Deep Soft.

Lady Robens the wife of Lord Robens the Chairman of the NCB made an underground visit to officially open the Main Bright seam.

 The Jubilee surface drift 1,586 yards (1,450m) long was begun in Oct 1976 and driven at a gradient of 1in4 from both ends in a dog-leg configuration at 1,040 yards (950m) to connect to existing Clowne workings.  A slit for manriding at this horizon was constructed. However the open cut at the surface proved fairly difficult to start and as many as 1,500 shots were fired using around 1,200 lbs of explosive.

Laser beams were installed by the Surveyor, Stan Hays (2988) as an aid for the workmen, after good ground was encountered. 

The machine was a Thyssen Titan heading machine that achieved between 33 yards to 55 yards (30m to 50m) a week, with a record of 117½ yards (108m) in one particular week.

The two headings thirled Apr 1978, after 18 months, with the tiniest of errors, being 1” (0.025m) in level and about ¾ inch (0.019m) in alignment, in laymens’ terms ‘spot on’ for such a massive project and a credit to the Surveyors for all their hard and intricate work. John E Hancock (6205) was the Manager in charge.

An overland conveyor about 1 mile long from the drift mouth transported coal to the coal prep plant.

In 1991 the first retreat face in Blackshale at 1.1m thick achieved 17,000 tonnes a week. The face was equipped with 155 Gullick Dobson 4x340 IFS chocks and 2 x AS800 SERDS (single-ended ranging drum shearers).

Connections were made over the years to Clipstone Top Hard, Warsop Top Hard and Deep Soft and Pleasley Deep Hard/Piper and goaf connections with Pleasley and Warsop in the Top Hard seam. A 2,000 tonnes rapid loader bunker was built and MGR trains of coal transported coal to Didcot power station.


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