2011 - Page 1
Ironically a monument in the shape of a miners oil lamp carved out of stone for all the miners killed at Bilsthorpe Colliery was unveiled on 4/10/2011 only three weeks later, on land dedicated as a memorial garden at the junction of Main Street and Crompton Road, Bilsthorpe. The design of the lamp was chosen as best from ideas created by pupils at the local school. A service of remembrance was held in the Village Hall on Cross Street beforehand and was attended by school children and many from the village as well as several dignitaries including Mark Spencer Conservative MP for the district. Following the unveiling and photographs taken by the local press I read out a poem I had composed that day dedicated to the victims of the coal industry at Bilsthorpe Colliery. A stone tablet naming the 14 sinkers who were killed during shaft sinking at Bilsthorpe in 1927 had been erected in the Churchyard previously in 2010.
Hatfield Tip Slide And Railway Closure
‘It never rains without it pours’ goes the saying....in the same week the dirt tip at Hatfield (Yorkshire) suddenly slumped across and under the main railway line lifting the contorted and bent rails high into the air. It was said at the time that it could take months to stabilise the tip and remove the material and replace and realign the railway lines and this was to cost an estimated £500,000 a month to the company of INGs Bank and Hargreaves. The line is closed and a bus service has had to be laid on to transport people from a station below the slip to a station above the slip to be able to continue their journey. It had already been muted that the output at Hatfield needed to be increased to 45,000 tonnes saleable from the average of 35,000 tonnes albeit that 50,000 tonnes of run of mine is being raised at present. The winding engine had broken down only weeks before and it took a week to repair it so there was no coal produced once again.
(Hatfield Main has had a turbulent life. In 1910 Emerson Bainbridge formed the Hatfield Main Colliery Co. Sinking was finished in 1917 but by 1927 that Company was bought out by the Carlton Main Colliery Co. Under the NCB, Hatfield Main and Thorne Colliery merged in 1967 but were separated again in Feb 1978 only to be once more in Feb 1986. British Coal closed the combine on 3 Dec 1993. On 25 Jan 1995 the management at the pit re-opened Hatfield and formed the Hatfield Colliery Co Ltd, making an excellent profit of £2.4m in the first year. However on 9 Aug 2001 the firm went into receivership and 200 jobs were at stake. Richard Budge the former owner of RJB Mining under the company name of Coalpower took over but he went into administration in Dec 2003 followed by liquidation on 22 Apr 2004. Again Richard Budge formed another firm called Powerfuel Co in 2006 (52% owned by KRC (Kuzbassarezugol, the biggest Russian Coal Co who put 36m into the enterprise). New drivages from the High Hazel pit bottom area into the Barnsley Bed were begun after first dewatering the shafts plus other repair work. The seam in that area is very thick but that tends to cause problems. It was mentioned by Fred Paling to me that in the early days there were quite a few gob fires or heatings and that is why there appears to be only a relatively small area worked previously from sinking. Fred started work there, moved to Nottingham pits and returned to Yorkshire where he eventually became Area Chief Surveyor. The colliery was once more in difficulties and an influx of money by INGs bank plus machinery from Hargreaves who ran Maltby just managed to keep their heads above water).
It was announced on 8th July 2013 that over 1m cu m of spoil had been removed and re-graded and made safe at the dirt tip that had collapsed in February and lifted the main rail line that passed by. A train had been driven over the re-aligned track and normal service was resumed around 20th July.
A614 Fissure And Road Closure
Within days of the tip slide at Hatfield the A614 about a mile from Ollerton roundabout towards Doncaster was closed. There was a fissure in the main road and the minor side road had collapsed creating a huge hole due to subsidence by being undermined by a coal face in the Deep Soft seam at Thoresby. Diversions were put into place creating lengthier distances to travel particularly for lorries carrying goods. At least 2 more faces are planned to undermine the A614 further up the road.
If compensation is to be paid out it could be the crippling blow to these two collieries.
UK Coal Into Administration
UK Coal went into administration on 8th July 2013. Only 2 collieries left in the company now, Kellingley (Big K) in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire. As mentioned before Thoresby vend of coal to dirt had approached well below 50% at one time and it was noticeable that the size of the dirt tip was increasing rapidly.
It was further announced that the Pension Scheme had been taken back into the public Pension Protection Fund. The Pensions Act 2004 had been against any scheme abandonment. Miners who had not been in the Mineworkers Pension Scheme, before the changeover to privatisation would have their pension reduced by 10% and would not receive the enhanced redundancy / payoff package only the Government Redundancy.. However, anyone who had been in the scheme before that cut off date of 1994 would be unaffected by the changes. Kevin McCullough, Chief Executive of UK Coal.
Alkane Energy arranged for vent pipes to some stoppings underground to be opened at the abandoned Maltby colliery and when the shafts were filled with red shale etc in 2013 a pipe up the shaft now carries methane gas from old workings. No expenditure was necessary for drilling from the surface into abandoned workings.
Some men from the closed Maltby colliery had been transferred to Hatfield, now owned by Hargreaves, including another Deputy Manager plus a further Underground Shift Supervisor, now making 4, and creating for them a different shift pattern to accommodate them all. Undergound visits by these Supervisors were only made when they are on the Day shift and the other shifts spent in the Surface Control Room monitoring operations. Again problems were experienced in salvaging chocks from HO6s panel just finished production in December 2013. The new HO7s retreat face had thirled in August but was not fully equipped until December 2013 when the first operational cuts were taken. Planned outputs were again not achieved.
National Mining Museum Visit By Royalty
Her Royal Highness Anne Princess Rose visited the National Mining Museum near Wakefield on 23rd July 2013 and formally opened the extended underground tunnels etc and other improvements, costing over £2m. She was accompanied among others by Willie McGranaghan (11633) Deputy Director and Colliery Manager. Anne had previously made an underground visit to Harworth 21st September 1999 accompanied by Richard Budge.
Other Royal Visits to Mines
King George V and Queen Mary visited Lewis Merthyr Colliery on 27th June 1912. David, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) toured a mining community in the 1920s. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited a Yorkshire mining area in 1944. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh made an underground visit to Rothes in the 1950s, Philip also made a visit to Bevercotes in 1965. Charles the Prince of Wales made his visit underground to Welbeck and Princess Margaret to an underground Calverton again in the 1960s. It shows that Royalty has observed the underground life of a miner in a small way and therefore could appreciate some of the circumstances and conditions that they worked under.
Hatfield output tumbled significantly in August / September 2013 due a very large cavity on HO6s retreat face. Instead of the expected 40,000 to 45,000 tonnes per week it was more like 20,000 tonnes. The workforce was in the region of 800 and some 400 contractors were given notice. The workforce had got to be pared even further. By December there were about 380 men. HO6s face had almost finished but difficulty with chocks and HO7s retreat face started production. The output now had increased to 55,000 tons run of mine but because of the vend ratio only about 38,000 tons saleable. In January 2014 a few men set on and work was progressing to prepare a new face HO9s on retreat back towards the drifts from HO7s end.
By June 2014 HO7s panel had retreated leaving about 600m to go. Salvage work continued on HO6s. Development of HO9s continued firstly with a shorter run headed out, then to re-head the face beyond the swilley to retreat all the way back to the drifts. The vend ratio is 47%, in other words more muck than coal. Recent run of mine results in June 2014 were 45,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes, ie 21,150 tonnes and 23,500 tonnes saleable. About a dozen contractors are employed at weekends etc additional to the approx workforce of 400.
Thoresby Colliery Co
In September fortunately planning permission was granted for extra dirt tipping space and permission to heighten the existing tipping area. The Deep Soft seam unfortunately has a middle dirt band and a soft floor thereby giving a vend of coal to dirt of around 52%. It can be seen that almost as much muck as coal is being produced. Because of diversification of the UK Coal Company where it has been split into several different areas of management, such as deep mines, surface etc and each Colliery is now run as a separate concern so Thoresby is now known as Thoresby Colliery Co and Kellingley similarly so that should one of those collieries closes or has deep problems it would not affect the other.
In October 2013 UK Coal having gone into administration announced that concessionary fuel to miners was to cease. Uproar. Questions were asked in Parliament. (see below). John Mann MP (Lab) for Bassetlaw had campaigned on behalf of the miners as he had on other various issues regarding the industry previously.
In mid November 2013 the Government stepped in and guaranteed the concessionary fuel for all previous recipients. On his visit to Nottinghamshire the Chancellor announced an existing Government scheme would be extended to give the former miners £1,300 of free coal or up to £600 cash every year. Some ex miners had lost the concessionary coal because the company they worked for had gone bust. The allowance of coal had been agreed between unions and British Coal before the industry was privatised in 1994.
NUM To Sue Scargill
Chris Kitchen General Secretary of the NUM based in Barnsley announced on TV in mid January 2014 that they were to sue Arthur Scargill for the return of £20,000 per year subscription and a legal bill of £100,000.
Caphouse National Mining Museum
Willie McGranaghan Deputy Director and Mine Manager at the National Mining Museum, Overton, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, retired at the end of March 2014. He had started his career at Cardowan, Scotland under NCB from 1975 - 1981 and obtained a Higher National Diploma and BSc in mining and a First Class Mine Managers Certificate (No 11633). He moved to Bilsthorpe (North Nottinghamshire Area) in 1981 as a Face Deputy and was upgraded to Overman. From 1984 - 1986 he was an Assistant Undermanager at Ollerton, then under British Coal from 1986 - 1988 Statutory Undermanager at Clipstone, from 1988 - 1989 Assistant Manager Development at Sherwood, and from 1989 - 1992 Deputy Manager at Bevercotes, transferring then from 1992 - 1994 as Deputy Manager at Bilsthorpe. Under RJB Mining 1994 - 1996 he was transferred as Deputy Manager / Statutory Undermanager at Asfordby. From 1996 - 1999 he was the appointed Manager at Rossington / Thorne, moving to the Selby complex (North Yorkshire) from 1999 - 2003 as Manager at Wistow, transferring from 2003 - 2004 as Manager at Riccall, before moving in 2004 - Oct 2006 as Manager at Harworth (Nottinghamshire). Harworth mine was closed and put into mothballs, awaiting a new buyer. After a few months break in service he was appointed to Caphouse Museum in Nov 2007. He replaced Erwin Bottomley (Manager at Caphouse for 20 years up to 2005) who had stepped back in again temporarily after Jim A Daykin ex Manager at Welbeck had left earlier in 2007. Willie was replaced in April 2014 as Manager by Andy Smith who was the Health and Safety Engineer at Caphouse, who in turn was replaced by Gerry Starkey.