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A Comprehensive History Of Mining In The Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire And Leicestershire Coalfields - Page 21


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Dennis Devon - Gedling Colliery - I was a Pit Bottom loco driver From Jan 1969 to March 1971
Richard Earnshaw - Deaths at Hucknall No 2 Colliery, Wilfrid Robert Eley Killed 1949
Edie Sisson - Watnall Colliery
Tony Mellors - Newton Collieries for Bob Bradley
Dennis Devon - Re: Gedling Colliery
Heather Parkinson - Terminology - Haulage Boy Underground

In MemoryRichard Earnshaw
2 Oct 2015
Deaths at Hucknall No 2 Colliery, Wilfrid Robert Eley Killed 1949

I came across your site whilst researching my great grandfather, Wilfrid Robert Eley; thank you for taking the time to put this information together.

We believe the photo of Wilfrid was taken sometime in the 1930s. 

The page

contains the entry under Hucknall No 2  of:-

Wilfred Robert Eley (64) fall of roof 5/8/1949

I would interested to know if you have any information as to the source of this entry.  My own research and family tradition held it that the death was due to being crushed by moving tubs.

I have two clippings from the Nottingham Evening Post that appear to corroborate this:

Nottingham Evening Post
6 August 1949:
Hucknall Pit Worker's Death

"Wilfred [sic] Eley, 64, of 10, William Street, Hucknall, a conveyor transfer joint attendant at Hucknall No. 2 Colliery, has died at Nottingham General Hospital, from multiple injuries received when he was knocked down by tubs at the pit yesterday."

Nottingham Evening Post
8 August 1949:
Inquest On Hucknall Miner

"The Nottingham Coroner (Mr W. S. Rothera) to-day opened and adjourned until next Monday the inquest on Wilfrid Robert Eley, 64, a coal miner of 10, William-street, Hucknall, who was fatally injured while working at Hucknall No. 2 Colliery on Friday.
Evidence of identification was given by his daughter, Mrs. Rushby, of 4a, Albert-street, Hucknall."

Unfortunately, I have been so far unsuccessful in trying to track down any records of the inquest, or any reporting of the outcome.

Just for the record, the correct spelling of his name was Wilfrid (two I's).

5 Oct 2015

I was able to visit Hucknall library over the weekend and looked at some microfilmed copies of the Hucknall Dispatch. The following is the report it contains on the inquest.

Hucknall Dispatch
Friday 19 August, 1949
Trapped Between Wagons - Inquest On Hucknall Miner

At an inquest at Nottingham on Monday on Wilfred [sic] Robert Eley (64), miner, of 10, William Street, Hucknall, who died following an accident below ground at Hucknall No. 2 Colliery, the jury retuned a verdict that death was due to injuries received when he was accidentally trapped between two wagons.

Joseph Arnold, a main line corporal, of 58, Titchfield Street, Hucknall, said that a wagon he had left in a swilly — a depression in the roadway where wagons are left for safety — had run away. He had never known this to happen before.

Frank Severn, electrician, of 2, Parker Street, said that he was told by Arnold that a wagon had run away, and went to a junction point. There he found Eley trapped between two wagons, one of which had come from the direction of the swilly. The pit, he added, was well lit, but there was considerable noise.


See Also Alan Beales Entry

Edie Sisson
6 Oct 2015
Watnall Colliery

I was a member of Moorgreen Mines Rescue team and trained at Ilkeston Rescue Station. I still have exam result sheets from the rescue station for the Moorgreen team, also some training booklets.

On the subject of Watnall Pit we used to walk underground from the underground training gallery at Moorgreen to Watnall Pit as the fans installed there helped to pull the air through Moorgreen workings. During the walk we passed under the longest stretch of unsupported roof in any colliery in the area, this was due to the rock strata above us.

At Watnall before you got into the pit bottom were the fans then to get to shaft side there was a steep incline of about 1 in 3, this had an endless haulage rope installed and at the bottom was a stack of walking sticks with an "s" shaped hook on the bottom, this you twisted onto the endless rope and it helped you to walk easily up the slope into the pit bottom. The shaft there was always flooded so the sump was always full of water. There was one man in the pit bottom to look after the fans, he was also the banksman. I think from memory that the fans were switched off in 1977, but am not sure.

Tony Mellors
3 Oct 2015
Newton Collieries for Bob Bradley

Hi Bob
As a resident I am interested in the old collieries in Newton Blackwell. I have found references in your pages to Tommy Newnes ( Newnies) and Diminsdale, and on a map of 1877 these are shown (I think) as currently working, as is a third colliery, which lies close to the border with Huthwaite, and had been served by the same Tramway as Old Hucknall Colliery, and thro to Pinxton. On the map is shown Engine House, Shaft and Tramway. There is no name shown for this colliery but locals refer to it as Deepwater… do you have any knowledge of it? Was it connected to the Old Hucknall and Mellors ?

Miners Arms

Above is a photo, which I am assured is taken in front of the Miners Arms, Huthwaite, opposite Pit Row and the Old Hucknall Colliery abt 1915-1920, Centre Back are Licensees Isaiah and Mary Pitchford and their youngest Harold and Florence. Because of the date I guess the colliers were working at the New Hucknall Colliery.


Sent from Windows Mail

Dennis Devon
1 Oct 2015
Re: Gedling Colliery

Hello Fionn, as an ex Gedling pit heavy ganger, loco driver, 1960s/mid 70s. most questions are gang/loco related.

  1. The date period, during the 1960s when the BPD loco road was lowered due to a result of sinking rings.
  2. Does anyone know, roughly, the date when an A-panel horse died/put down, sometime during the early 70s.
  3. When were the, CB type loco radio/telephones fitted to the man-riding loco's.
  4. When were booster fans installed at A Panel Stables.
  5. Exactly when did pit bottom loco system finish.
  6. Exactly, when my work colleague/comrade (Mac) sadly died, sometime early 70s!
  7. Were pit ponies taken out during the 70s strikes.
How many questions am I allowed?

Many thanks
Dennis Devon

6 Oct 2015

Hello again Fionn.  Mac, was already a member of the man-riding team when I joined. that's what he was known as. Afraid I know no-more than that. He was Scottish. A staunch union-man and was often my guard. Sadly his death was apparently NOT an accident, as in (self-induced) = I WAS TOLD AT THAT TIME = Also, does anyone know if the pit-ponies were taken out of the mine during both of the 70's strikes?

Thank you for your time.
Dennis Devon.


  1. The BPD loco road was lowered around 1966-1967
  2. The A-panel horse died/put down around 1967-1968
  3. Still investigating when the radio/telephones were fitted to the man-riding loco's
  4. The booster fans were installed at A Panel Stables when 50's Panel area was working mid 1980's
  5. The pit bottom loco system finish when the conveyor system and 10 ton skips were installed at No1 Shaft, summer 1975
  6. Can not find any information, at this stage, about when 'Mac' died
  7. The Pit Ponies were dispensed with around 1970 so were no longer down the pit during the strikes, the last 3 were Blackie, Short and Starr

Bob Bradley

23 Nov 2015

I was a Pit Bottom loco driver From Jan 1969 to March 1971, (according to my time-sheet records. Regretfully, my team mate (Jim) and I were informed by our deputy (Blodwyn), prior to the 2nd date, that pit bottom loco's were to finish. We apparently worked the last P/B Friday shift with our opposite team mates Harry and Vince. That night Blodwyn came to us on emptys to say Vince refused to work with Harry on the last shift so we were split-up, (I went with Harry). My team-mate went to be an onsetter, not sure what became of Harry and Vince. Harry was a gentleman, possibly went on man/riding. I went on man riding as guard until Chris-P unfortunately had an accident, whereby I then became Billy-M's partner. would this be a correct statement, as I've been getting contradictory information regards event timings?

Dennis Devon

Heather Parkinson
30 Sep 2015
Terminology - Haulage Boy Underground

Searched the pit terminology section on the website but couldn't find what a haulage boy underground did. Could you please tell me what that job entailed as my great grandfather was one at Warsop main in the early 1900s. Thank you.

Heather Parkinson

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Haulage Boy, Underground

Haulage boy (1) aged 13 to 18 usually employed lashing or clipping and un-clipping tubs on an engine driven (moving) haulage rope on main roads or pit bottom area.

Haulage boy (2) could also be one say 15 years plus employed getting tubs or jotties of supplies to a face and empties back in panel gates by engine driven haulage rope, or ganging same by a pony. The age of starting work was 13 from 1880s up to 1913, then 14 from 1930s to 1948, 15 up to 1960s, thereafter 16 plus.

Haulage boy (3) generally a young boy 13 to 15 assisting an experienced person doing the above jobs (description sometimes varied pit by pit).

Haulage boyWarsop was sunk 1894 / 1895 and was opened on the tub stall system of working the Top Hard coal seam at about 1.8m thick in 1896. The coal faces radiated out from the pit bottom and there were several smaller roadways off main roadways, leading to the coalfaces.

A portion of a coalface including generally a centre gate road was run by a butty who would have 4 or 5 men working for him, firstly by under chopping out the coal to about 3' 0" (app ) 1m, then next day levering the coal down into as many big lumps as possible as small coal was not needed particularly and if any was sent out of the pit the price paid for such coal was less. These lumps or pieces no less than 4 inches to 6 inches (0.10m to 0.15m) would be loaded into tubs or trams at the coal face using screens or forks. In order that loading could be done a haulage boy had got to get some empty trams to the face by driving a pony, and would then take a couple of full tubs of coal pulled by a pony back to a main road where they were clipped on by another haulage boy onto a steel haulage rope running at about 2 miles an hour, driven by say a 200hp engine. The haulage boy in this situation was also called a ganger or a pony boy. The Butty would constantly pressurise the boy on his particular part of the face to make sure that there were sufficient empties to hand at the face, and that he had brought sufficient timber e.g. pit props and split bars and wedges etc, and then had taken the full coal tubs to the rope. The haulage boy would also have to make sure that the rails were kept clear of any spillage so that the tubs did not derail, because any hold up cost money. It was sometimes a lottery, i.e. to get his tubs to the main rope and loaded before any other haulage lads from other stalls got theirs there first and clogged up the system and also be able to get sufficient empties before they were taken by other haulage lads. In times past in the mid to late 1800s the lads would be beaten by the butty for not being quick enough! In the mid to late 1800s and before, the lads trammed tubs by hand or pulled them wearing a belt and chain.

The money for the stall, for the colliers, and maybe odd times for the haulage lad, unless he was paid by the day, depended on the amount of coal produced and sent out of the pit and weighed. The boy would probably be responsible for marking the tub or coal with chalk to denote where the coal had originated from, e.g. 6s or 99s or 143s (this being the stall number) so that the weigh man on the pit top would know where the coal had come from and he would write it in the book with the relevant tonnage, and that would be added up each day / week and the appropriate amount of money for the coal would be paid as agreed in a contract made between the butty and the Undermanager. Of course the butty had the 'lion's share'..

Lads working on the main road where the tubs were clipped onto an under tub rope with a Smallman clip or a star clip or screw clip or other, or lashed on by a chain to an over tub rope, moving at about 2 miles per hour were also called haulage boys and they would also take empty tubs off the rope by un-clipping them and run them into the gate ready for the pony boy.

Full tubs of coal would be 'knocked off' the rope near the pit bottom and these lads again could be called haulage boys. An experienced haulage worker who had previously been a haulage 'boy' and now in charge of all the haulage system on his part of the pit was called a Corporal and he would oversee the general running of the system and arrange for the boys to be available and assist them if necessary should a problem occur.
When the panel system of working came in during the 1930s and continued, the coal was undercut by machine and blasted down by explosive or hewed at the face and cast on to a face conveyor and then on to a gate conveyor leading to a loader point down the Loader gate. Haulage boys were then used to run the empty tubs under the loader where a man loaded each tub and the boy would again clip runs of say 4 tubs on a gate rope and another boy would take them off the rope at the end of the gate and thence on to the main rope haulage. Ponies were still used until the mid 1970s locally but only to transport materials on jotties or tubs, again with items such as pit props, bars, for the face, and gate supports etc, and sometimes machinery, and off loaded near the face. He then went back down the gate with an empty jotty and the cycle continued. He could also be employed on salvage operations, that is recovering material from a finished district to be re-used at a new district. When the ponies were dispensed with, the haulage lads clipped runs of say 4 or 5 tubs or jotties of material onto a small hp gate engine ropes and again transported materials to the face and brought the empty tubs back to go out of the pit and be refilled with materials and so on.

With modern machine mining from mid 1950s gate belts were extended and coal went onto main road conveyors instead of tubs, to a central loading point. Obviously all the coal from all districts was mixed so the marking system was dispensed with.

As you can see the term haulage boy could refer to several different jobs but the end result mainly from the 1940s was getting materials to the coal face or working around the pit bottom area or on the roads. Boys were generally offered a job to work at the coalface when they were 18 plus, then new entrants to the pit would take their place. Sometimes of course some did not want to work at the face so stayed on the haulage work until they finished work and retired.

Trusting this will give you a comprehensive reply, enabling you to understand the term and what your relation would have done.

Look on my site under healey hero as there are pictures throughout showing all the various jobs.
Bob Bradley