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Book 8 The 21st Century



Small Drift Mine In Derbyshire Continues

I am seen at the top of the Entrance Drift following a visit to the mine in 2009,
accompanied by Phil Toseland, the Surveyor

Eckington drift mine (North Derbyshire) (Moorside Mining Co) sunk in 1993 and the latest new mine on Rotherside Road continues to extract between 600 and 800 tonnes per week from the Flockton (or Deep Soft) seam in 2009. Maximum output was 850 tonnes and maximum manpower 27. Coaling is worked on 2 shifts, 6 am days and 2.00pm afters, with maintenance done as and when necessary. Coal is extracted by the pillar and stall method from the 3 headings and cross cuts using long jibs on a Dreadnought coal cutting machine in a dirt band n ear the top of the seam. The coal is then bored and fired and loaded out by ‘Bobcat’ machine onto a conveyor which delivers onto other conveyors and finally up the steep 1in3 entrance adit where there is a swan neck in the conveyor preventing the conveyor belt lifting due to a change in grade and then on the surface about 100m long to the coal prep plant. The roadways are not very high and are supported by wooden legs and 4” x 4” (100 x 100mm) girders.

An Alpine header was tried (a smaller version of a Dosco) but failed because of difficulty negotiating the 90 turns into the headings. Deputies ran the shifts.

All the men were shareholders in the Company including him.

I visited the mine on 2/7/2009 escorted by the Surveyor Phil Toseland and can be seen at the top of the intake and conveyor drift. I chatted to Alan Bilton the Manager who was an ex workman at Bilsthorpe in the past. Output 2009 and 2010 app 600 tons a week, work hampered by pillar edges from underlying old Parkgate workings causing a few falls. Box type girders set on wooden props support the headings. The output goes by road mainly to Ratcliffe Power Station. Estimated life of mine, 4 more years. Trees were set from the beginning to blend the mine into the countryside and have now matured. The 3 afternoon men are standing on a bridge over the River Rother. For safety there is a depth marker for the river and should the river rise through flood to the level of the red mark then everyone has to exit the mine. However in the floods of 2007 the river rose to a maximum flood level and the marker was completely under water yet the water did not enter the mine showing that there is a good safety factor. It is proposed to work the Parkgate seam (app 50 hectares) when the present lease for the Flockton expires or the economical boundaries are reached. The old roadways to the dip below the working areas are allowed to fill with water. There has been only one occurrence of firedamp but no detection of blackdamp.

Unfortunately due to monetary irregularities within the business resulting in the owner being jailed for lack of funds with insufficient money to pay the employees as well as failing to pay the workmens’ income tax. Demands made to the men were squashed by the Inland Revenue Tax Office when it was realised that the men were unaware of the non-payment as the money for same was shown to have been deducted on their pay slips. The firm went into liquidation and the mine was closed temporarily and the men laid off in early 2013. The colliery went onto 2 shift production in 2016.

Managers: Site preparation Manager

  • Joe Leeming 20/3/1993-Sep 1993 until the open cut was done for driving the access drifts
  • Tony Beswick 1993-1997
  • Eric Burton 1997-1999
  • Mike Burroughs 1999-2002
  • Steve Ellis 2002-2006 (left to Australia)
  • Alan Bilton (11172) 2006-2010
  • Barry Kent from North East Sep 2010-2014 approx
  • Colin Stocks (11030) 2014-2015 approx
  • John Watson (....) 2015 onwards (at 2017)


  • Dave Archibald 2016 onwards (at 2017)


  • Ray Rushton (ex Senior Surveyor, Yorkshire) 1993-1998
  • Phil Toseland (6002) (ex Surveyor Dinnington, previously High Moor) 1998-2010 worked 2 or 3 days at the mine putting lines on for direction etc with a Watts 20” theodolite and dial and levelling the workings and updating plans etc. The other 2 or 3 days he worked at the Coal Authority, Berry Hill until 2009
  • Alan Thompson from North East 2010-.

Fatal Accidents: There was a large roof fall in one of the room and pillar headings in the North West of the workings on 4th June 1998 and a Deputy Alan Hill (51) and a workman David Martin (48) were killed. Due to the nesh roof in that area the district was abandoned.

Exploration at Harworth

The 2m exploratory scheme at Harworth (North Nottinghamshire) to prove the area of coal available included 3 surface boreholes that were drilled in 2008-2009 some 880-900m to the Barnsley Bed. The first 2m thick core of coal was sent to TES Bretby for analysis. The potential area could produce up to 40m tonnes. 2 headings from the pit bottom some 5,000m long would give access to the reserves.


At January 2009 there were only 3,170 employees on UK Coals books based at their 5 pits, namely Harworth in mothballs with a skeleton staff, Thoresby and Welbeck all in Nottinghamshire, Kellingley in Yorkshire and Daw Mill in Warwickshire.

This figure was the manpower of a large colliery in the early 1900s. In 1965 there were almost 83,000 men in the East Midlands Region out of a total of 447,000 in the country.

A new pay deal from 1st January 2009 giving increases in basic rates, overtime payments and Occupational Sickness Benefits as well as redundancy terms extended to March 2012 for more than 2,500 men in the UDM was based on the inflation rate of 5% in September last year. Men at Daw Mill, Thoresby and Welbeck and all surface opencast mines where the majority of the workforce are in the UDM received this rise. The NUM had yet to agree the 3 year package, seeking amendments to the sick pay scheme and the right to negotiate for their members at UDM ‘majority’ pits, however UK Coal refused to move away from the ‘majority’ rule that had applied since the end of the strike in 1974.

HMI Inspectorate

Ian Waugh was now HM Chief Inspector of Mines for a couple of years for underground working. In 1972-1973 he was an Assistant Undermanager at Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) whilst I was there as Surveyor, and was promoted to Undermanager Linby and then transferred to Goldthorpe in Yorkshire a couple of years later before joining the Inspectorate in 1983.

Thoresby Machine

At Thoresby a cross-breed dintmaster (a Hausherr bucket machine modified to take a tranverse cutting head) was introduced in Deep Soft 57s Supply gate. It was also used for cutting out manholes.

Drilling For Oil Re-Started

Drilling for oil was re-started at the Kirklington oilfield at the end of July 2009 and 325 barrels of oil were pumped in the first 10 days. This was another source of energy within the county of Nottinghamshire that was replacing coal.

Court Case

A court case involving alleged health and safety breaches by UK Coal after the deaths of 4 men. UK Coal face 10 charges by the HSE following the death of Paul Milner (44) who died at Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) in November 2007 and 3 other miners killed at Daw Mill (Warwickshire). Manager John Alstead and an Assistant Undermanager Terrence Davison faced two charges, each relating to the death of one of the miners at Daw Mill in June 2006. The case was to be heard at Doncaster Crown Court in 2011.

Compensation Payments

The business regarding compensation payments to miners was raised yet again when the Miners solicitors were fined for a compensation deal. Action was taken by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) against partners from BRM Solicitors, Chesterfield because of an improper deal the firm had reached with the Mansfield based UDM. One solicitor was fined £6,000 and 3 others were reprimanded and had to pay costs. The firm had handled some 4,600 claims. An investigation by the Serious Crimes Office begun in 2005 was still ongoing in 2010.

Neil Greatrex retired and Jeff Wood (47) succeeded as President of the UDM.

Record Advances

Sept 2009. A record 209m advance for the week setting 5.5m x 3.4m supports was achieved at Thoresby using an ABM235 heading machine in Deep Soft seam DS1 road. A total of 700m advance was done in 4 weeks. £55m had been invested in the project. There was a new generation energy pumping station some 3,000m away. The main hydraulic supply to the 2 leg push button shield chocks gave a guaranteed pressure of 4,500 psi through the face line in 15 seconds. German built variable speed drives were installed on the panzer, the first in the UK.

Worlds Biggest DERDS

The worlds biggest Double Ended Ranging Drum Shearer, (DERDS) a 100 tonnes Eickhoff SL500 was installed at Daw Mill (Warwickshire). A muster station some 5km from the pit bottom was installed at Daw Mill. It was 50 sq m and had a back up of water and long life food enough for 48 hours to cater for up to 80 men in the event of an incident or emergency where the men could be cut off. 600 men were working the Warwickshire Thick coal which consisted of 6 seams that had come together, each separated by a very thin dirt band namely 2 Yard, Bare coal, Ryder, Top Nine Feet, Nine Feet and High Main. The washery plant had a 9 months refurbishment to produce a greater volume of singles coal 2009-2010. The main customer was e.on. During 2010 coal was transported by road to be washed at Welbeck.

UK Coal Results Tumbled

UK Coal results tumbled for 2009-2010. Thoresby (Nottinghamshire) last panel in Parkgate in the Ollerton take ran into problems of hard dirt and a swilley slowing the retreat face drastically. Development into Deep Soft seam continued and a face began working. The conveyor system now stretched for 13km. Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) on their last face in Deep Soft also ran into bad ground but extended the life of the pit by a few weeks in doing so. Daw Mill (Warwickshire) had to drop the extraction in the Warwickshire Thick coal from 5m to 4m as the CPP could not handle it, thereby cutting output down. Kellingley (Yorkshire) similarly had bad ground conditions but in March 2010 there was a fatal accident causing the pit to be closed for a week. Harworth (Nottinghamshire) still remained in mothballs awaiting a buyer.