Annesley & Newstead Collieries – Past and Present
On Sunday 18th November 2012, twenty-seven walkers enjoyed a four-mile trek around Annesley and Newstead in the heart of the former Nottinghamshire coalfield. The theme for the day was the industrial heritage of the area and several significant former industrial and railway sites were visited as part of the walk. The walk was led by David Amos, a local historian who specialises in coalmining and railway history in that region, and was in conjunction with Ashfield District Council and the Friends of Annesley Old Church.
For more details on the Annesley Old Church Project contact the Project Officer on (01623) 457537 or have a look at the Annesley Old Church Facebook page.
Having the Crack was a distinct type of dry, quick witted humour that existed, not only in the pits, but in many of the traditional heavy British industries. Have a neb at David Coleman, the Eastwood Pitman, telling a funny story about a miner’s snap tin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLrrs5MI8oM
This section aims to collect some of the humorous bits connected to the coalmining industry – witty quotes, short stories, poems and cartoons.
On Sunday 16th September a group of 32 people took part in a Mining Heritage Tour as part of the 2012 DH Lawrence Festival. The two-week annual festival took place from 6th – 19th September 2012 and included many activities and events connected with the Eastwood author. The Mining Heritage Tour visited various mining memorial sites at former Nottinghamshire collieries as well as various mining heritage sites including Brinsley Headstocks, Bestwood Winding Engine house and the Breach House. David Amos, tour organiser, gave a potted pit history at each stop as well as introducing the visitors to some prominent, and often controversial characters, connected with the various pit sites on the tour. These included Arthur Lawrence (Butty), Colin Clarke (NUM Branch Official), Harold Larwood (Cricketer) and George Spencer (Controversial Notts Miners Leader from 1926).
I recently visited the former Colliery Winding Engine House at Bestwood Colliery. It was the first time I have visited since restoration work was done as part of a successful HLF funding bid in 2009. A magnificent example of a vertical steam winding engine, the only one in Britain that survives on its original site. Most steam winding engines at collieries were of the horizontal type. The Bestwood Winding Engine House is open on Saturday mornings (10.00am – 12 Noon) from April to October.
An event celebrating the local mining heritage was held at the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre in Eastwood on Sunday 27th May. Several organisations put on displays of mining memorabilia and some associated activities took place in the Green and Gold Room. John Stafford and David Amos did a session called “Having the Crack” which looked at pit humour and pit poetry. David Amos also gave a short presentation on the “Mubu Coalmining Project 2010-2012″ which looked at how coalmining was represented in the Heritage Centres, Museums and other establishments in the East Midlands. The second part of the project brought aspects of Digital and Social Media to this representation.
In all 64 people attended on a red hot sunny day in addition to 19 people who put on displays and activities. Special thanks to Kathleen Bartholomew for the Story Reading and Alan Taylor and friends for supplying the music. Also special thanks to Sue for supplying the buffet and to Liz Harvey from the Writing our History / Digging our Past initiative from the University of Nottingham who funded the buffet and advertising for the event.
On Wednesday 18th April 2012 the play Dust was performed at the Mansfield Palace Theatre in Mansfield. Dust is the story of miners and coal mining communities. It is a story of dreams and reality in Britain partly shaped by the the social and political upheaval of events surrounding the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. It is also the story of two Arthur’s – Arthur Scargill, NUM President 1982-2002, and Arthur Cook – A J Cook – leader of the Miners Federation of Great Britain in the 1926 Miners lockout. Scargill’s inspiration and involvement in mining trade unionism was based on his admiration for A J Cook.
Dust is a fictional account of a ghost from the past that comes to haunt Scargill the morning after the death of Margaret Thatcher. It was not without controversy and the plot questioned aspects of Scargill’s role in the 1984-85 strike among other things. To that end when the play opened in Barnsley on 17th March it was disrupted by hecklers in the audience. The play was written and directed by Ade Morris.
This recent exhibition looked at issues connected with the landscape, environmental and cultural changes in the former Nottinghamshire coalfield following the demise of the once vast deep coalmining industry. Some of the socio-economic implications from the run down of the industry are still being felt today. The landscape has altered almost beyond recognition during the last decade with many former colliery sites now being transformed into country parks, industrial and commercial sites with light industry. Some of the former mining communities have become deserted ghost-towns and have been plagued by a benefits dependency culture, crime and drugs problems.
A display of David Severn’s photographs showing aspects of the changing mining landscape went on show at Mansfield Museum between 3rd March and 14th April 2012. Coal mining entertainer, David Coleman, presented two of his mining shows on 2nd and 3rd April.
19th March 2012 saw the 25th anniversary of the finish of coal production at Newstead Colliery. At the time Newstead was part of the Annesley-Bentinck-Newstead Complex, with all coal from Newstead travelling by underground conveyors to the coal preparation plant at Bentinck. From here coal was dispatched by “Merry Go Round” Trains to Ratcliffe Power Station.
Newstead’s peak period of production was 1960 – 1976 when it regularly turned over 1 million tons of coal each year. During this period Newstead employed 1,400 men. At the time of closure Newstead employed just over 600 men turning 385,000 tons of coal. At the finish of production coal was being produced from the High Hazels seam.
The sinking of the Newstead shafts commenced in 1874 and the subsequent colliery village (the Old Village) followed shortly afterwards. The colliery village was extended in the 1920′s (the New Village). This part of the colliery village was sometimes nicknamed “Wembley” following one of the house designs being exhibited at the 1922 Wembley exhibition.
Food for thought that anyone under the age of 35 will hardly have known Newstead as a coalmining community.
On Thursday 15th March 2012 the MuBu Miner led an Industrial Heritage Walk for the East Midlands Branch of the Railway and Canal Historical Society around the Pinxton area on the Nottinghamshire / Derbyshire borders. Fifteen hardy souls took part in the walk which commenced at Pye Bridge, initially following the former Pinxton Branch of the Cromford Canal to the current Pinxton Wharf and the site of the former Great Northern Pinxton Station. The second stage of the walk went from the Wharf to the John King Museum which was kindly opened up by members of the South Normanton and Pinxton Local History Society. John King, a Pinxton Victorian, invented the safety detaching hook which unhooked the cage from the rope in the event of an overwind.
The third stage of the walk went from the museum to the Horse and Jockey Public House on Church Lane, Selston via the former Brookhill Colliery site (closed 1969) , the current coal prep plant which is washing the coal from the tip recycle at the former Langton Colliery (1844-1968) and the former Pinxton and Selston Station on the former Midland Kirkby to Pye Bridge line.
A good day was enjoyed by all and many thanks go to the South Normanton and Pinxton Local History Society for opening the John King Museum and providing tea and coffee for the walkers. Also thanks go to Jane, Landlady of the Horse and Jockey.
On 15th February 1937 South Normanton Colliery or Winterbank as it was known locally, was the scene of two violent explosions on 11′s district in the Waterloo seam. 7 men were killed and an 8th succumbed to the injuries a week later. Several other miners were injured. The explosion was a “double wamy” igniting both methane gas and coal-dust.
As with most explosions in the past crowds of men and women folk gathered at the pit head to hear of the dead or relief for the survivors. Volunteer miners assisted in the rescue operation and according to one of the survivors, Ram Simpson, they did so without thought of the danger to themselves.
South Normanton Colliery staggered on in production through World War Two (keep the home fires burning) and finally closed in 1951. It became a pumping station for minewater until the late 1960s to protect other nearby pits. Following the demolition of the headstocks the site became the home to the NCB South Nottinghamshire Transport Depot until 1988.
How many of the vast hordes that congregate on the site today would have though the site was a scene of immense tragedy 75 years ago. What is the site today I hear you ask; why its the McArthur Glen Shopping Outlet near Junction 28 of the M1 Motorway!
The MuBu Coalmining Project took place from April 2010 to the end of March 2012. The remit was two-fold - firstly to see how the once vast coalmining industry in the East Midlands was represented in the Heritage sector and secondly to bring aspects of social media to that representation. The Coal mining project was funded by Renaissance East Midlands (REM) and the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) at the University of Nottingham. The Bursary holder is Dr. David Amos who completed a PHD on the 1984-85 Miners Strike in the Nottinghamshire Coalfield. David is an ex miner, having worked in the deep mining coal industry at Annesley Colliery for 24 years.