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Book 7 Privatisation Once More

1995 - 2000


1998 - Page 1

Management Changes

Robert (Bob) J Hallam (11252) Manager of Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) transferred to Manager of Maltby (South Yorkshire) in February 1998. Glen S Britton (11) Deputy Manager at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) was promoted to Manager at Welbeck.

Another Mild Winter

1997 / 1998 was another mild winter and following from last year, RJB Mining began to struggle. Even private contracting firms such as AMCO were now finding difficulties with the shrinkage of the industry, as in the past the firm had found much work in some of the local pits doing special jobs.

Asfordby Towers Demolished

On 29th March 1998, the winding towers at the closed Asfordby mine were toppled by a controlled explosion, following the completion of the shaft fillings.

Two Killed At Eckington Drift Mine

At the small Moorside Drift mine at Eckington, on 4th June 1998, there was a large fall of ground in a coal heading set on wood in the Flockton North East district. A collier David Martin (48) and a Deputy Alan Hill (51) were killed and one other escaped injury. Working in that district was then abandoned due to poor roof conditions has had been proven. Prep work had begun in 1994 and two adits were driven in 1995. This was the only mine at work in Derbyshire in 2013, where once there were hundreds.

Amber Valley Drift Mine Closed

Amber Valley Drift mine (J Hudson) (Derbyshire), off Jacksons Lane was closed, in July 1998, the Blackshale seam was worked by room and pillar system. Surveyor Mick K Barber (5407), appointed since Sep 1997 (ex Surveyor Shirebrook colliery). There were ample reserves of coal available but even the small mines were finding difficulty in sustaining existing markets.

Court Case

Eight miners, including one from Nottinghamshire, took British Coal to court to claim damages for chest diseases, and Mr Justice Turner ruled in favour for them, by stating that the chronic bronchitis and emphysema was caused by British Coal failing to provide adequate face protection. One year previously a similar ruling had awarded miners the chance to claim for vibration white finger.

Coalfields Task Force

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott (Lab) welcomed the Coalfields Task Forces 80 recommendations amid fears that limits on funding would restrict their impact. A conference was to be held at Ollerton Miners Welfare on 13th July 1998 when John Prescott was to give the Governments response to the report. Regeneration of closed colliery villages and new road infrastructure were two ideas.

Open Day At Thoresby

There was a successful Open Day held at Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) on Sunday 28th June 1998, organised by RJB Mining and several thousand visitors attended, with the underground visits proving very popular. The new system of only working one coal face in retreat was proving successful and would yield around 1.8 million tonnes for the year. This was a far distant position to the past when up to 8 advancing faces would have been worked.

No Subsidies From The Labour Government

Board of Trade President Margaret Beckett MP (Lab) stated at the end of June that the Government would not provide subsidies or preserve a market which was biased against coal and give a real space for coal in this country. RJB Mining the owner of the 3 remaining pits in the Mansfield area of Nottinghamshire were to negotiate new contracts with the power generators, however the UDM General Secretary Mick Stevens thought that the company knew already, although the announcement was not to be made until the end of the July. Keith Stanley General Secretary of the NUM thought that removing the bias which had existed in favour of gas was a good thing. Independent Labour Euro MEP Ken Coates thought that it was a ‘very uncertain reprieve’. RJB Mining spokesman stated that the company had no plans to close any of the local pits.

Underground Fire And Gas Emissions

One of the three coalfaces in the thick Deep Soft seam (accessed 1977) at Harworth (North Nottinghamshire) had to be sealed off during July 1998, due to an underground heating, and large emissions of methane gas.

Flexible Lifting Bolts

At Harworth, flexible lifting bolts made from 7 strand rope were used for the first time in a British mine. Flexi-bolts do not deform.

Further Job Losses

On 25th September 1998, Midland Mining announced that 95 jobs were to be lost at Annesley Bentinck (South Nottinghamshire) due to adverse mining conditions. Development work was put on hold immediately.

The Manager Gilbert Wilson (10111) had been succeeded by Chris JE Smith (10952), an ex Manager of Shirebrook (Derbyshire).

Pit Tips Being Re-Washed

At Creswell (Derbyshire), the pit tip was being re-washed to recover the small coal discarded in years before. Previously such operations had been carried out at Pleasley. Tip washing was to commence at the huge 4m tonne tip at Gedling (Nottinghamshire) where a railway had been reconnected to the main line, in order to transport the coal away.

Refuse Tip

Glapwell old dirt tip (Derbyshire) continued to be used by the Council as a refuse tip, and a site at Bentinck (Nottinghamshire) was under consideration for refuse tipping. Both sites were attracting adverse public criticism at the time of writing.

RJB .....‘No Collieries To Close’

Peter Mandelson Trade Secretary (Lab) stated that the future of the industry lies in its own hands. RJB Mining stated that no collieries were to close. However the European Union programme aimed at promoting cleaner and more efficient use of coal. The ‘Carnot’ initiative was to encourage clean coal technology to make coal more environmentally-friendly and reduce air pollution. Unfortunately the River Trent side power stations would need to be converted at great expense giving grave doubt as to the life of the four remaining Nottinghamshire pits Clipstone, Harworth, Thoresby and Welbeck as the production costs would need to be lowered in order to compete.

Working Time Regulations 1998
Pit Deputies Refused To Opt Out Of The 48 Hour Week

In August 1998, a development heading at Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) advanced 383 yards (350m) in 4 weeks against a planned advance of 219 yards (200m).

99 Jobs To Go At Annesley Bentinck

It was announced in Sep 1998 that 99 jobs out of the 500 workforce at Annesley Bentinck were to go. Poor roof conditions were limiting output.

Retreat Mining

In November 1998, the first retreat face at Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) was commissioned in the Yard seam, at 5ft (1.5m) thick and 328 yards (300m) long.

The first retreat face in the Yard seam at Rufford (Nottinghamshire) had been commissioned earlier.

Closure Of Silverdale (Staffordshire) After 115 Years

Silverdale Colliery Stuart Tomlins - Collection of photographs

The Midland Mining Company also announced the closure of their other mine at Silverdale (Staffordshire), in late December 1998 after 115 years. (This colliery had been sunk in 1883 and was leased by the Butterley Co of Ripley (Derbyshire), from 1884-1899, when Butterley Co revoked the lease. The pit also worked ironstone as well as coal at the time, but the workings were very steep, and heavily faulted, and during the 14 years term of the lease in the late 1800s, only showed a profit in 7 half-yearly accounts out of 27).

In Nov 1993 manpower was 380 u/g, 8 s/f, plus 159 contractor’s u/g and 78 s/f, also 58 under officials and 12 WPIS. An underground heating at the mine in 1998 hampered operations.


William Rowell (10141), Director of Mining at RJB Mining stood down in December and was succeeded by Alec Galloway (10934), Deputy Director. The new Deputy Director appointed was Kevin Irving (11453), Manager at Harworth (Nottinghamshire), who was replaced by Geoff Mountain (11417) from Rossington (Yorkshire).


Henry Richardson Secretary of Nottinghamshire NUM (1982-1998) (ex Creswell previously) retired.

Opencast Sites

  • Ireland various seams Feb 1998
  • Nadins (RJB Mining) Block, Upper Cannel, Little Woodfield 4/6/1998. 16 old shafts exposed varying from 1.4m to 2.4m dia
  • Smotherfly site (UK Coal) worked 10th June 1993 to 11th Dec 1998, 4th Waterloo seam. The following old shafts were exposed: Pye Hill No2, 4452/31, 444729.0, 352249.7, 2.3m dia, level at top 170.7m a.o.d.
  • Pye Hill No1, 4452/33, 444732.0, 352275.3, 5m dia, level 173.4m
  • Tunnel Adit 4452/34, 444405.2, 352164.6, level 146.2m
  • Pye Hill No2 Adit 4452/35, 444594.6, 352073.2, level 154.6m
  • old shaft 4453/143, 444409.6, 353552.6, 21m dia, level 154.2m
  • old shaft 4453/144, 444413.4, 353559.0, 2.1m dia, level 153.7m
  • Fan shaft 4452/11, 444381.5, 352292.5, 4m dia, level 146.1m
  • old shaft 4452/25, 444656.4, 352327.8, 2.5m dia, level 143.5m
  • Black Rake shaft 4452/25, 444739.3, 352232.9, 2.1m dia, level 167.5m (31/12/1998)
  • Smotherfly (UK Coal Mining Ltd), 4th Waterloo, 1st Ell, 2nd Ell, Brown Rake upper and lower, Top Soft Rider, Top Soft upper and lower, Roof Soft, Deep Soft, Deep Hard, 25 old shafts found, fin 31st Dec 1998
  • Stanley Grange (RJB Mining (UK) Ltd) Cockleshell 6” (0.15m), Low Main 3’ 10” (1.16m), Threequarter 2’ 10” (0.87m), deepest point 62 feet (19m), 20/8/1997-21/1/1998.

Output For RJB Mining

Output for RJB Mining 1998:

  • Calverton 404,024 tonnes, 307 men
  • Clipstone 371,201 tonnes, 213 men
  • Harworth 914,601 tonnes, 657 men
  • Thoresby 1,824,002 tonnes, 528 men
  • Welbeck 1,554,500 tonnes, 545 men
  • The Stillingfleet combination at Selby produced 3,530,664 tonnes with 1,058 men.