Pit ponies being brought out of the pit for the last time at Shirebrook Colliery in 1970. Source: Mansfield Chad


Coal mining was crucial to the economy of the East Midlands. At its peak, around 120 deep coal mines were operational in the region. In the post war era, increasing mechanisation of the industry changed how the coal was won, moving from man and horse power to fully mechanised collieries. In some collieries, pit ponies co-existed with machinery until the 1970s. The allure of the pit pony remains firmly established in our collective memory. Another enduring aspect of mining culture is the camaraderie that existed between working miners, developed over generations, working deep underground in often perilous conditions.


Shaft sinking at Bevercotes Colliery in the late 1950s. Source: Coal Authority

Faceworker cleaning up with shovel at Pleasley Colliery in the 1960s. Source: Coal Authority

Circular tunnelling machine being assembled for development work at Cadley Hill Colliery in 1981. Source: Coal Authority

The Hunt Rider was a new mode of underground transport for miners in Babbington Colliery’s Tupton Drift in the 1960s. Source: Coal Authority

Miner reading Coal News in 1963. Published monthly by the National Coal Board (NCB), the title ceased production in January 1995. Source: Coal Authority

Silverhill miners celebrate after achieving a record breaking coalface production target in 1989. Source: Mansfield Chad