Fig. 1: Annesley Colliery in January 1982 during demolition of the Coal Preparation Plant as part of the Annesley-Bentinck Concentration Scheme. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner.
A Brief History of Annesley Colliery (1865-2000)
Annesley Colliery and the Older Concealed Coalfield
Annesley Colliery was part of the older concealed part of the Nottinghamshire coalfield being situated in the Leen Valley, around nine miles north-west of Nottingham. Coal in the concealed coalfield lay deeper than on the older exposed coalfield, a few miles to the west, which borders the county of Derbyshire. The oldest coal workings in the county lie on the exposed coalfield, with records of coalmining taking place at Cossall dating back to 1316.
Coalmining in and around the Leen Valley was developed between the early 1840’s and the 1870’s. The Leen Valley collieries were all sunk to the Top Hard coal-seam that was a good steam coal for industry. Sinking included Cinderhill (Babbington) in 1841, Newcastle 1853, Hucknall (Top and Bottom Pits) between 1861 and 1865, Annesley 1865, Clifton1868, Bestwood 1872, Linby 1873, Newstead 1874, Wollaton 1899 and Radford 1899.
Fig. 2: Annesley Colliery Village in the early part of the 20th century. The pit village is known locally as The Rows. Photo Credit: Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Development of Annesley Colliery and New Annesley
The sinking of twin 13ft diameter shafts at Annesley began on 1st January 1865, reaching the Top Hard seam at a depth of 420 yards in 1867. The colliery was initially developed by the Worswick family from Coleorton in Leicestershire on land belonging to the Chaworth-Musters family from Annesley Hall. The mining community of New Annesley known as the Rows developed around the colliery in the 1870’s. A new church, Annesley All Saints, was consecrated in 1874 and a village school opened in 1872. Between the 1860’s and the late 1890’s the whole face of the Leen Valley changed with the introduction of deep coalmining and the opening of two new railway lines. The Midlands Railway’s Nottingham to Mansfield line through Annesley originally opened in 1848 and was joined by the Great Northern Railway’s Leen Valley Branch in 1882. The Great Central Railway (formerly the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway), developed its loco sheds and marshalling yards at nearby Newstead in the late 1890’s. It’s ‘London Extension’ opened in 1897 and ran for seventy-three miles from Annesley North Junction to Quainton Road in Buckinghamshire, where it joined the Metropolitan Railway.
Fig. 3: Aaron Stewart, early trade union pioneer and Nottinghamshire Miners leader. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
Early Days at Annesley Colliery
The 1872 Coal Mines Act stated that each colliery should have a competent manager in charge. Henry Lewis was Colliery Manager at Annesley from 1874 to 1904, coming to the area from Coleorton in Leicestershire, with the Worswicks. He later managed nearby Linby Colliery.
The 1872 Act also allowed for the appointment of a checkweighman, elected by the miners to check the coal coming out of the pit, alongside the Colliery Company checkweighman. The colliers or hewer’s wages were paid on piece rates, the amount of coal they won determined the wages they earned under a scheme known as the Butty System. ‘Little Butties’ were middle men who ran the stalls on the coalface for the coal-company, they were also known as Contractors. Each collier would have his own stint to work in a stall. Aaron Stewart (1845 – 1910) was appointed as checkweighman for the miners at Annesley in 1880. He played a key role in the development of mining trade unionism in the Nottinghamshire coalfield in the late Victorian period. He was President of the Nottinghamshire Miners Association (NMA) from 1888 to 1897 when he became full time Secretary. He held this post until his retirement in 1910.
Figure 4: Memorial to the 1877 Annesley Colliery disaster in Annesley All Saints graveyard. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner.
The 1877 Annesley Colliery disaster
The north intake, a short distance from the Top Hard pit bottom, was the location for an underground fire in May 1877. The roadway was sealed with stoppings in an attempt to extinguish the fire but on reopening it a month later on 27th June 1877, an explosion occurred which resulted in the death of seven miners. The main cause of death was carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning; three of the miners were killed in a vain attempt to rescue their colleagues. A memorial for the deceased was installed in New Annesley churchyard and can still be seen today (Fig. 4). The deceased miners were:
- William Waplington (alias Newbury) – aged 37, married with four children
- James Bradbury – aged 16, single.
- Thomas Ward – aged 55, leaves a family.
- Samuel Abbott – aged 19, single.
- Thomas Webster – aged 45, married with nine children.
- Joseph Pickard – aged 45, married, leaves a family
- George (or Lewis) Rye – aged 26, married with no family.
Fig. 5: Annesley Colliery No. 2 upcast shaft in 1907 with wooden headgear. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner collection.
Annesley Colliery: Hardwick Colliery Company Days 1904 – 1925.
The Worswicks lease ended in 1904 when a syndicate headed by Mr Chambers from the Hardwick Colliery Company at Holmewood took over the running of the colliery. A mining engineers report in 1901 described the colliery as antiquated despite the fact that it had been in production for just over thirty years.
During the First World War, the two shafts at Annesley were deepened to the Deep Soft / Deep Hard seams at a depth of 580 yards as the Top Hard seam came towards exhaustion. The Top Hard seam was eventually abandoned in 1921 during the Miners Lockout. Until that time the colliery was ventilated by furnace ventilation but changed over to a Waddle fan during the lockout at a time when some of the workings became flooded. During shaft widening in the 1980’s, the kibble (bucket) which was used to deepen the shafts, a cap and a newspaper from the time were found in the vicinity of the old Top Hard pit bottom area, in addition to remains of the furnace ventilation.
Fig. 6: Annesley Colliery yard with the colliery village in the background in 1932. Photo Credit: Mubu Miner collection.
Annesley Colliery: New Hucknall Colliery Company Days (1925 – 1946)
In 1925 Annesley Colliery was brought by the New Hucknall Colliery Company who were based at Huthwaite. They had to put a significant amount of capital into the colliery as part of a major modernisation scheme. A report from the time described the colliery as been badly run down and suffering from a period of mis-management over a number of years. As part of the modernisation scheme Blantyre’s of Glasgow built a new Coal Preparation Plant, later some additional buildings were erected, along with updating of conveyors and a new dirt disposal scheme installed on the surface. They owned the colliery until nationalisation of the British coal mining industry on 1st January 1947.
Fig. 7: Surface reorganisation and modernisation by the National Coal Board in the 1950’s. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner collection.
Annesley Colliery: National Coal Board Days (1947 – 1969)
The British Deep Coalmining Industry was nationalised on 1st January 1947, referred to as Vesting Day. Annesley became one of eighteen collieries based in the NCB East Midlands Division No. 4 Area with the Area HQ being at Huthwaite, near Sutton-in-Ashfield. The No. 4 Area was a mixture of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire collieries.
In the 1950’s Annesley successfully operated a system of panzer mounted swan necked jib coal cutting machines at the coalface, along with hand filling. This was an early mechanisation success. The first trepanner type coal cutting and loading machines were introduced in the early 1960’s and by this time all output was from the Deep Soft seam. Seam thickness of the Deep Soft seam was 2ft 9 inches to 3ft 3 inches.
Fig. 8: Loader in No.1 pit bottom. Two ton minecars were introduced, one each deck on the cage, in 1955. Photo Credit – Coal Authority.
In 1949, an aerial ropeway was installed to take the colliery dirt away to be tipped at the side of the Midland Railway, just north of Annesley railway station. From the mid 1950’s through to the early 1960’s a major reorganisation of surface facilities took place with two-ton mine-cars being introduced (one each deck) for getting all the coal out of the colliery via the No. 1 downcast shaft (Fig. 8). The No. 2 shaft reverted to manriding and materials only.
In April 1967, a NCB reorganisation took place, and Annesley became one of eighteen collieries in the newly formed NCB South Nottinghamshire Area, the Area HQ being based at Bestwood.
Electric Winding Engines were installed to replace the steam winders in 1968/69. No. 1 Winding Engine was the first to be replaced with an 1800 horse-power English Electric A.C. Winding Engine coming on stream for coal turning via the No. 1 shaft in December 1968. No. 2 winder steam winding engine converted to electric winding in August 1969 with the installation of a 700 horse-power AC electric winding engine.
Fig. 9: S10’s coalface in the Deep Soft seam, 1978. The face machine is a Double Ended Conveyor Mounted Trepanner (DECMT). Photo Credit: MuBu Miner collection.
Annesley Colliery: National Coal Board Days (1970 – 1988).
By the start of the 1970’s the vast majority of Annesley’s coal went to the local Trent Valley Power Stations, initially to Staythorpe Power Station and then to Radcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, for electricity generation by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). All production was still from the thin Deep Soft seam, coalfaces being on the north and south sides of the colliery.
Development of the Tupton Seam (formerly Low Main seam) commenced in the mid 1970’s with two drifts being driven on the south side from the Deep Soft level to the Tupton seam. The first Tupton coalface (T1’s) came on stream in 1979. The Tupton was to take over production as the Deep Soft seam reached exhaustion and it was estimated there were 5 million tons of coal reserves in that seam. Only three faces in total were ever worked in the Tupton seam, T1’s, T2’s and T3’s. and it was abandoned in 1986 due to difficult geological conditions. Additionally in 1986, production in the Deep Hard seams finished due to deteriorating geological conditions. Two coal face, H1’s and H2’s had been trialled from 1981 to 1986. From 1986 all production was concentrated on two coal faces in the thick Blackshale seam (seam thickness 6ft 6inches).
Fig. 10. Members of S8’s coalface team at Annesley Colliery in March 1977. Photo Credit: MuBu Miner collection.
The colliery featured in two TV current affairs productions in the 1970’s; World in Action in 1974 and a Panorama documentary in June 1977 following the surprise Conservative victory in the Ashfield by-election earlier that year. Annesley National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members took part in the two national strikes of 1972 and 1974 but the vast majority worked through the 1984-85 dispute. In December 1985, Annesley became one of the union branches of the newly formed Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).
Fig. 11: Workings at Annesley Colliery in the early 1980’s. Photo Credit – MuBuMiner collection.
Restructuring and Rationalisation at Annesley Colliery in the 1980's
Fig. 12: Workings at Annesley Colliery in the thick Blackshale seam. The first coal face, K80’s, commenced production in early 1981. Photo Credit – MuBuMiner collection.
Figure 13: Annesley-Bentinck Record Breakers – November 1992. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner.
Annesley-Bentinck Colliery: British Coal Corporation Days (1988 – 1994)
Annesley and Bentinck Collieries merged into one colliery, with one payroll, from April 1988. The colliery was named Annesley-Bentinck and became part of the Nottinghamshire Group of the British Coal Corporation. The Newstead part of the Complex had closed at the end of March 1987. Production at the Bentinck side of the colliery finished in July 1991 when K56’s, in the Three Leaf Blackshale seam, finished and Bentinck became a surface only mine dealing with the coal from Annesley via the Surface Drift. From this time, all production came from two coalfaces in the thick Blackshale seam at Annesley and in the period 1992-1994 many colliery production records were broken (Fig. 13). Record annual tonnage was in the financial year 1992-93 when 1.67 million tons of coal was produced and a commemorative pit plate was designed for the occasion (Fig. 16).
Figure 14: Steve Parr on the controls of the shearer on a thick Blackshale coalface at Annesley- Bentinck Colliery – 1992. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
Figure 15: In the early 1990’s, British Coal produced glossy coloured coal face booklets for each new installation in the Blackshale seam, this one being for BS87’s. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
Fig. 16: Commemorative pit plate for the record production year of 1992/93 when the colliery produced 1.67 million tons of coal. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner
Fig. 17: Local press report on the closure of Annesley-Bentinck by British Coal in February 1994. Photo Credit – MuBuMiner collection.
Annesley- Bentinck Colliery – British Coal closure (February 1994)
The colliery finished production under British Coal on the week ending 11tth February 1994 following a “Special Colliery Review” meeting held at the Edwinstowe HQ on 4th February 1994. The deep mining industry had been affected by the “dash for gas” and since the Government’s announcement of thirty-one colliery closures out of the then fifty operating British collieries in October 1992, the market for deep-mined Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) coal for power stations had continued to decline. Along with Annesley-Bentinck, Manton and Ollerton collieries were also closed at the review meetings on 4th February 1994 despite the fact that all three were producing some of the cheapest deep-mined coal in Britain.
The new contracts under the now privatised electricity generating industry had no markets for their coal. The irony of the situation was that since the formation of the Annesley-Bentinck Colliery in April 1988 it had made an operating profit of £64 million in just over five years. At the time of the British Coal closure, Annesley-Bentinck was producing the cheapest coal in the Midlands Area of BCC and was £10.5 million in profit for the financial year 1993-94. The closing of the colliery was featured in a six part BBC documentary, ‘Coal’, which was broadcast in the Spring of 1994.
The colliery was put on a care and maintenance basis awaiting a potential buyer under the Governments preferred bidder’s scheme for the soon to be re-privatised British coal industry. In 1995 it was offered to Coal Investments plc as a lone colliery in the newly formed Midlands South area of the privatised coal industry. The majority of the collieries in the Area, and indeed in Britain, went to RJB Mining, a consortium headed by Richard Budge.
Fig. 18: Annesley Colliery – Coal Investments plc 1995/96. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner.
Annesley- Bentinck Colliery: Coal Investments plc (1995-1996)
Coal Investments was formed by Malcolm Edwards, former Financial Director for the British Coal Corporation. They took over six former BCC collieries, which had been abandoned for production purposes during the “coal-crisis” of October 1992 – March 1994. Annesley-Bentinck was taken over by Coal Investments on 25th April 1995 and restarted production in June of that year. Production recommenced on BS88’s retreat coalface and BS93’s advance coalface. These were the two coalfaces BCC had abandoned in February 1994 and formed the basis of production for the rest of the 1995-96 financial year.
Coal Investments went into serious financial difficulties in the first half of 1996 following the failure of a planning application to mine coal on a coalface at its Hem Heath Colliery near Stoke-on-Trent. The company went into administration in February 1996; administrators overlooked the running of the company whilst looking for a potential new buyer.
Fig. 19: Midland Mining Ltd in Mining Technology Journal, February 1997. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
Annesley – Bentinck Colliery: Midlands Mining Ltd (1996 – 2000)
Midland Mining Ltd were the preferred bidders for Annesley – Bentinck. They took over the running of the colliery, along with Silverdale Colliery near Newcastle under Lyme, on 8th June 1996. Markets for coal were established with Power Gen for ESI coal at its Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. A new coalface, BS84’s, commenced production in March 1996 with a second new coalface, BS89’s, coming on stream in November 1996. The company initially planned for a 7 – 9 year production period, with all coal coming from the thick Blackshale seam. The colliery employed a core base workforce of around 400 with additional development work and other various colliery work being done by outside contract firms.
Figure 20: Miners Pete Holmes (left) and Andy Symonds (right) hang their caplamps and self rescuers up for the last time as Annesley-Bentinck closes at the end of January 2000. Photo Credit – Chad Newspaper.
Annesley-Bentinck: Final Closure January 2000
In January 1999 Midlands Mining announced that Annesley – Bentinck Colliery would finish production early in 2000. Actual production finished over the weekend of 29th / 30th January 2000, final production being from BS 101’s coalface. The two shafts were filled in between February and April 2000. This brought to an end the era of deep mining in the Ashfield region of Nottinghamshire after 180 years and ended one of the last links to the Industrial revolution, which helped build the social and economic base of the region.
The site lay derelict for a number of years with some demolition taking place including the No.1 headstocks in 2001. Following an unsuccessful campaign to try and preserve the No. 2 headstocks, demolition of the rest of the site occurred in 2008. In 2010, building work, for new housing, commenced on the site of Annesley Colliery by Persimmon Homes.
Fig. 21: Annesley Colliery mining memorial and A frame artwork, December 2020. Photo by MuBu Miner.
Annesley Colliery Mining Memorial
A mining memorial to the pit exists at the top of the colliery village near to Station Road and later was accompanied by an artwork A frame. An Annesley headstock wheel is preserved on the former Holditch pit-tip near Apedale in Staffordshire, as a memorial to the Staffordshire miners.
Fig. 22: Annesley Miners Welfare Institute, tap room side, in the late 1990’s. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Fig. 23: Annesley Miners Welfare Cricket Club, 1985. Photo Credit – Chad Newspaper.
Annesley Miners Welfare Institute
Annesley Miners Welfare Institute was established in 1920 after a Miners Welfare Fund was set up that year under provisions of the 1920 Mining Industry Act. A dance hall and sports pavilion were added in the early 1930’s. In 1976 a lounge and Stewards living accommodation were added. The Miners Welfare closed in 2009 and lay empty and derelict until demolition took place in July 2020, one hundred after it was first established. Like the colliery site, the welfare site and grounds are to be re-developed for housing.
Fig 24: Harold Larwood, Nottinghamshire and England fast bowler, who worked at Annesley Colliery from 1918 to 1927. Photo Credit – Kirkby Heritage Centre.
Annesley Colliery Celebrities: Harold Larwood.
Annesley Colliery’s most famous claim to fame is its links with cricket in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Several famous Nottinghamshire county and later England international cricketers worked at the colliery during that period. Perhaps the most famous of these was the fast bowler, Harold Larwood, who was employed at Annesley Colliery from 1918 to 1927. His father, Bob, and brother also worked at the colliery, the former being the Union Branch Secretary for a considerable number of years.
Harold Larwood appears in several of the signing on books that survive from the 1920’s and 1930’s (Fig. 25). In the signing on books, he is employed as a “Bank Lad” on the surface, which is probably not surprising in such a dangerous occupation like coalmining. It is thought this was a clerical logistical exercise in order for the cricketers to play at Trent Bridge during the Spring and Summer months and be at the pit in the autumn and winter. Having a good cricket team and players who appeared for the county was of significant prestige for the colliery management!
Fig. 25: Members of the Larwood family signed on at Annesley Colliery in 1925. Home address was 17 Chapel Street, Nuncargate, Nottinghamshire. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner collection.
The Bodyline Ashes Test 1932/33
Harold Larwood came to national prominence after the role he played in the controversial Bodyline Ashes Test of 1932-33 in which he took 33 wickets. England won the series 4-1 to reclaim the Ashes and such was the controversy over the bodyline bowling methods it almost cut diplomatic links between England and Australia. Larwood was used as a scapegoat in the ensuing enquiry following his refusal to apologise for the controversy. He commented that he was just following Mr Jardines orders and never played for England again. Born in the nearby mining village of Nuncargate, he emigrated to Australia in 1952 where he died aged 90 in 1995. Larwood’s death was described at the time by Alan Smith, Chief Executive of the Test and County Cricket Board, as “the passing of the last central English link to a distant era of high drama!” A framed picture of Larwood in his bowling stride adorned the private office of John Major, who was Prime Minster from 1990 to 1997.
Shout down the Shaft for a Fast Bowler! Cricketing legacies at Annesley Colliery.
Fig. 26: Andrew McGrath (left), grandson of fast bowler Harold Larwood, on a VIP visit to Annesley Colliery in 1993. With him is Eric Morley, former Annesley Colliery miner, who started at the pit in 1936 and knew Harold Larwood. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner.
A Cricketing Legacy: A VIP Visit in 1993.
In 1993, Andrew McGrath, Larwood’s grandson, visited from Australia and was taken on an underground visit at Annesley Colliery (Fig. 26). During his visit to local cricket clubs, he deposited various documents from his Grandfather’s collection of cricket memorabilia.
Fig. 27: Fred Pella (left) presents a set of his coal carvings to NCB Chairman, Sr Derek Ezra (right), on an official visit to Annesley Colliery in 1978. In the centre in Colliery Manager, Jack Hand. Photo Credit: Chad Newspaper.
Annesley Colliery Celebrities: Fred Pella – Coal Carver
Fred Pella settled in Annesley from his native Poland following World War Two and his coal carving exploits received much acclaim in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Some of Fred’s coal carvings were selected as Royal gifts for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and for the Pope’s visit to Britain in 1982. He also presented some of his coal carvings to NCB Chairman, Sir Derek Ezra, when he made an official visit to Annesley Colliery in 1978. (Fig. 27)
Fred died in 1992 and is buried in the churchyard at Annesley All Saints Church. A street on the redeveloped Annesley Colliery site, Pella Grove, is named after him.
Fig. 28: Surviving Annesley Colliery buildings as part of the redevelopment of the colliery site during the second decade of the 21st century. On the left is the former union office, known as the Union Box, and on the right is the colliery electrical workshop, formerly the corn stores. Photo Credit – MuBu Miner, December 2020.
Jasmine Gardens: Annesley Colliery redevelopment
The Annesley Colliery site was redeveloped by Persimmon Homes in the second decade of the twenty-first century, the housing development being called Jasmine Gardens. Two original buildings, the Corn Stores, later an electrical workshop and the original union office, both survive and have been incorporated into the new development (Fig. 28).
Some of the streets’ adopted names associated with the history of Annesley Colliery: Pella Grove, Stewart Way and Lewis Crescent. Henry Lewis was colliery manager from 1874 to 1904.
Blog by David Amos
Heritage Resources Office
Posted 24th June 2021
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