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Book 8 The 21st Century


2003 Pages

2003 - Page 1

Old Mine Plans Computerised

Vast improvements were made in the computerisation and reproduction in colour of old mining plans, at the Coal Authoritys Mining Records Office at Berry Hill, Mansfield, whereas previously only copies on microfiche in black and white were available to be viewed on a screen, but now a coloured copy could be obtained, true to scale with the facility to measure on the screen, calculate distances and enlarge any particular portion of a plan etc. Several computer screens were set up to enable visitors to access the information. It was planned that in 2004, +20,000 photographs would be scanned into the system also.

Danger Still Lurks From Old Shafts

An old shaft along the footpath of the 5 Pits Trail at Newton near Tibshelf in Derbyshire collapsed on New Years Day 2003, and fortunately it was reported before anyone fell into it and fenced off.

As mentioned before, danger still lurks from old mine shafts.

Towards the end of January 2003 one of the shafts at the Bottom pit at Tibshelf also collapsed and the Rangers were able to plumb the depth before remedial action was taken to make it safe. Obviously the shaft had only been capped and had only been partially filled.

Deadline For Claims For Chest Diseases

Miners who have suffered from chest diseases as a result of working at a colliery were informed by the Labour Government Energy Minister Brian Wilson MP (Lab) that they were to ask for a deadline of 31st March 2004 to be imposed on its compensation scheme when the case went before the High Court in March 2003.

New generation dust samplers carried on pitmens' belts were tried at Harworth and Thoresby collieries to check airborne dust. The portable apparatus combines a lightweight cyclone device with a small sampling pump, and worn on the belt, and sucks air through a filter worn on the lapel of work wear.

Clipstone Finally Closed After 80 Years

Photo Darren Haywood

Clipstone (Nottinghamshire) sunk in 1922, closed in April 1993 by British Coal, re-opened by RJB Mining on lease in 1994 from the Coal Authority, was finally closed by UK Coal on 17th April 2003 after a further 10 years of production, and returned to their care, for they hold the lease and mining licence for the colliery. RJB Mining sold out to UK Coal Ltd in May 2001. Possible development of the Blackshale seam had been turned down due to poor quality.

Seams worked:

  • Deep Soft -30/4/1993 and 1994-11/7/1997
  • Yard seam-11/7/1997: The last 3 faces in the Yard seam had been worked on the retreat system. Around 150 men were offered transfers or made redundant.

Shaft positions: SK56SE No1 shaft 459518, 363296, No2 shaft 459543, 363228, 285 feet (87m) above sea level and the highest headgear in the country at 214 feet (65.25m). Clipstone Top Hard working was connected to Mansfield High Hazles and Thoresby Top Hard and Warsop Top Hard. Connection to Rufford in Low Main, Note the inter-colliery connections at each colliery.

Output for

  • 1994: ?
  • 1995: 500,541 tonnes, 295 men
  • 1996: 487,940 tonnes, 304 men
  • 1997: 439,800 tonnes, 298 men
  • 1998: 371,201 tonnes, 213 men
  • 1999: 523,549 tonnes, 222 men
  • 2000: 0.3m tonnes
  • 2001: 0.4m tonnes and for 2002 it was 0.3m tonnes.

Some men were made redundant, others offered jobs at Thoresby and Harworth. A few men were kept on to withdraw some of the valuable machinery and face equipment. By September 2003 the two shafts were filled with 100,000 tonnes of limestone rock chippings with concrete plugs at the bases and pit bottom insets and both shaft tops made safe with concrete caps.

See details of mine and staff etc at previous closure in 1993. The photo to the right shows a group of miners on the last shift prior to the mine being finally closed.


  • Chris Daniels (12111)
  • Kevin Bancroft (11819) (previously at Calverton).


  • John Cranham (6534) Deputy, appointed Surveyor at re-opening.

A vote taken in 2003 by the village inhabitants of Clipstone over the decision whether to leave the headstocks in situ was narrowly defeated. A model village colliery housing estate was built adjacent and opposite to the colliery yard, the shafts only about 50 yards (45m) from the main road with the office block only a pavements width away. The canteen and baths were on the other side of the road with a tunnel connecting under the road.

Gimmick at Thoresby

Designer T-shirts was the latest gimmick awarded at Thoresby to development men achieving 'ton up' advances, where more than 82 yards (75m) a week on average, with a best of 117 yards (107m) advance in the first 13 weeks of 2003 was achieved in 43s Supply gate heading (in the area previously abandoned at Ollerton colliery in 1994), using a heavy duty Austrian made Voest Alpine ABM20, 80 tonnes heading machine. The remote controlled machine with a 3ft 6in (1.1m) dia cutting drum has 4 onboard drill rigs for roof bolting and 2 for side or rib bolting and is capable of boring and cutting at the same time and loading 25 tonnes a minute. Another machine in use at the colliery was a DBT RH45.

Fuel Policies

Various Governments have created various fuel policies over the years and by doing so other fuels have been created. The main markets for coal have altered dramatically over the years. Firstly coal was used for simple heating arrangements, for at one time everyone had a coal fire. With the invention of modern kilns for pottery etc the demand grew. Thousands of coke ovens were built to produce coke for smelting, then it was used to create coal gas, for cooking and light, then many by-products, and smokeless fuel for heat. With the ‘industrial revolution’, coal was used to heat the furnaces for lime burning for the building trade, coke ovens, for iron production, then steel etc for the construction of bridges etc, and steam power was necessary for the new static engines for winding at pit shafts etc. As the idea of steam power spread from these simple engines to factories, steam ships, then steam locomotive engines on the railways, the need for coal became insatiable. Thousands of pits were sunk around the country and most notably in Derbyshire as mentioned before, because the county also had a good supply of coal, clays, iron ore, limestone and other metals relatively close to the surface. The first generation of electricity by coal burning was in 1880, and by the time of the National Grid in the late 1920s supplies to power stations were beginning to mount, a large proportion of the production was absorbed at the new huge power stations built later situated by the River Trent and River Soar.

Coal had been replaced by oil in ships almost fully by the Second World War and diesel trains replaced steam engines by the early 1960s. Opencasting, in Derbyshire at Tibshelf, started as a Wartime measure in 1942 began to replace large amounts of deep mined coal as methods were improved to remove more overburden. Imports of cheaper coal from all over the World added to the demise of the industry. Before the First World War, 1914-1918, exports to the Continent and the Colonies plus numerous coaling stations around the World for the steam ships accounted for a fair proportion of the output, in fact 93 million tons. Following the War our export market never recovered, and following the Second World War 1939-1945 imports began. These escalated during times of unrest. Coal washing of old tips has been allowed at many old mines and the finished result with the regarding of the tips and grassing/tree planting and lakes has made better environmental aspects and many country parks / wildlife sanctuaries have been created. It is not fully known whether opencast methods can upset the ecosystem of drainage etc and of course where mature trees are felled and established meadows dug up to access the coal it is many years before the landscape achieves any resemblance to its former look, if ever at all. Opposition from the public has prevented some proposals as most do not really like the noise, dust and constant transport necessary with the mining of such coal. Each proposal has to pass stringent criteria before permission to proceed is granted. Later the discovery of oil and natural gas in vast quantities gave rise to these fuels replacing coal for domestic supplies.

From Day One A Mine Has A Limited Lifespan

In an extractive industry such as coal mining as soon as the first tonne of coal is removed, that mine is on a limited lifespan. When that lifespan is reached, whether practically by conditions such as antiquated methods, exhaustion, ventilation, bad coal, washouts, faulting, water, planning restrictions or economics, tipping area, leases etc, then that mine must close.

Many of the modern mines in the 1990s produced more coal in one week by mechanised means and using powered supports than some of the smaller mines did over a lifetime of several years with men using a pick and shovel and wooden props and a candle for light.

Within the Urban District of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire lay about 150 old shafts, but there were only 4 large collieries, namely Silverhill, Teversal, Sutton and New Hucknall. Even these mines were termed medium size when compared with Glapwell, Shirebrook, Mansfield, Rufford, Blidworth, Kirkby, Bentinck, Annesley, Newstead, and Pye Hill that surround them. Many old shafts surround the district including some bell pits and just a few men using primitive tools would have worked most of these small pits, and the coal being raised to the surface from the shallow depths by hand windlass. As the shafts became deeper, horse driven gins were used. All those pits were in the unconcealed Coalfield, where the coal measures are exposed at the surface.

When A Mine Closes

When a mine closes many factors are considered, but with the introduction of the Mines and Quarries Act 1954, Section 20 outlined the statutory procedure to be followed. In addition the Coal and Other Mines (Abandonment Plans) Rules 1956 states that the extent of the underground workings are to be shown as before but now to include variations in level, the gradient of the seam, positions and sizes of faults, position and level of shafts and all external dangers. The plan must also show the position of any pump in use underground immediately before abandonment and the amount of water being pumped as well as any known waterlogged areas, any variations in level on the boundary of the workings and the position, dimensions and method of construction of any water dam and the pressure of water being retained by it. The abandonment plan for each seam is signed by the Surveyor for the mine as to its accuracy and is counter signed by the Manager or owner of the mine to state that ‘no further working has been carried out since the date of the Surveyor’s certification and the finish of production ’. Certificate numbers for both Surveyor and Manager are annotated on the plan as stated previously. The Surveyor for the mine also writes a substantial report on the history of the mine and method of working with special emphasis on the accuracy of the workings in relation to the various correlations of the underground with the surface and any connections to neighbouring mines etc. This report is given to the Mines Inspector along with the plans, note books and calculations and then deposited at the purpose-built Mining Records Office for the region, located at Lichfield Lane, Berry Hill, Mansfield since September 2001 and located previously at Bretby for 10 years.

The first Records Office had been located in London in 1845 and administered by Robert Hunt for 37 years, during which time the system was set up purely by voluntary contributions of plans and information. He collected information about the collieries and from 1853/54 lists of collieries with their owners were published. The system was taken over by the respective Mines Inspectors for each region and much further detail was collected and published yearly. The Colliery with its position, the owner, any Agent, the Manager and Undermanagers and their certificate numbers in the Mines and Minerals, Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with the Isle of Man for the year 1888 plus the seams worked and numbers of men underground and on the surface. It was prepared by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Mines by direction of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Printed for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Price 1s 4d.
The Office was moved to Buxton, Derbyshire in 1939 as a precaution against German bombing in the Second World War and was under the keeping of Ernest H Clarke (1774), Ministry Surveyor (previously at Eastwood collieries).

It was most unfortunate that many coloured Geological plans were destroyed by a German air raid on Southampton where all the information was kept. After Nationalisation in 1947 it was thought prudent to split the regions up and temporary accommodation for the Midlands mines records was found at Mansfield Woodhouse later. Robert (Bob) Bailey (1109) ex Surveyor at Welbeck was appointed in 1950. He accompanied the records to new accommodation at East Midlands Divisional HQ at Sherwood Lodge near Hucknall. Percy W Hett (2111) ex Surveyor at Silverhill was appointed Records Officer in 1956 to May 1982. The Divisional HQ was dispensed with and later sold off with the Nottingham Police force taking residence. Again the records were moved to new accommodation at No5 Area HQ at Eastwood Hall. Jack Milburn ex Deputy Surveyor at Alfreton and Deputy Mining Records Officer was appointed in 1982. Unfortunately Eastwood Hall was sold off, and the records were moved again to accommodation in the old Pithead baths at Newstead colliery, (at a cost of £40,000), in 1990 after the closure of the pit. This was a drastic move and was not the best location for them. Robert (Bob) Draper and David A Clarke were appointed as Records Officers. However the plans and records were moved yet again and taken to a new site at old NCB accommodation at Bretby in 1991 under the keeping of David A Clarke (6912) (MBE 2003) in 1993, where they remained until 2001 when they were moved yet again to their present purpose-designed accommodation at Lichfield Lane, Mansfield under the auspices of the Coal Authority. Even so further additional visitor accommodation was added in early 2003 giving 2 personal rooms, equipped with large table and also a computer screen, on which one can access certain plans and photographs. In 2011 though, these 2 rooms were only available at a cost of £60 per session of 3 hours particularly for professional company researchers. The large airy entrance foyer leads to a central hall that also has several computer screens. Copying of practically all abandonment plans had been carried out in 1989-1990 and reproduced on microfiche slides in black and white that could be viewed on a screen. However the system was not convenient and it was decided to re-copy / scan all plans again, but this time by computer methods. The system has been a complete success to date and full scale reproductions can be seen on a computer screen and copies obtained of all flat sheet abandonment plans and many small abandonment plans that were on linen or paper, and in original colour and can be enlarged or reduced and turned through 90 or 180 and can be produced on many scales. However the copying of the large roll plans had created a problem, as the current system could not deal with them, and a camera capable of such action was placed on order, I believe from Germany. This duly arrived and was set up with a large base bed with 6 cameras over taking several shots which were then ‘stitched’ together. It was the only camera of its kind in the UK. Later, modifications to the system would allow the complete plan to be accessed on the computer screen instead of in 9 sections that took several minutes to form. It is also possible to enlarge parts of plans, measure distances on the screen and calculate distances between various points also on any scale and access is provided on several screens within the visitor complex. Public access to the computer screen system of retrieving some 30,000 old mine plans in colour were available from June 2004, building up to 50,000 by February 2005. Additionally access to old photographs available from June also, and currently some 27,000 had been copied. These figures had increased to around 105,000 plans and 45,000 photographs by 2007 and about 120,000 plans and getting on for 50,000 photographs by 2012. Further deposits of plans from Councils etc continued to arrive, however the original team who did the scanning etc had moved on so the progress for sorting and scanning documents and plans etc had almost stopped (in 2013). It was decided that the large overhead camera was now defunct and was to be scrapped (2013)! Public money of course once again and a decision that could be regretted one day!