Coal, Community and Change at Pleasley

Snibston Colliery in the 1970’s, NCB South Midlands Area. Photo Credit – Coal Authority

Snibston Colliery: 40th anniversary of closure


Snibston Colliery was situated near the north-west edge of the mining town of Coalville, Leicestershire, and was known locally as ‘Snibby’. The colliery was developed in the early 1830s by George Stephenson, the famous railway engineer, along with his son Robert. Later in the decade George Stephenson was instrumental in the development of the North Midland Railway and the Clay Cross Works in north Derbyshire. Joseph Sandas and Charles Binns were also involved in the original development of Snibston Colliery. Three shafts were sunk to the Middle Lount seam at a depth of 195 metres and the colliery was one of the first collieries to use cast-iron tubbing in the shaft to hold back strata water.


Sketch of Snibston Colliery when relatively new in the 1830’s. Photo Credt – David Amos

The original tandem headstocks (Nos. 1 and 2 shafts) were of wooden construction, later to be replaced by steel in the 1940s. A fourth shaft, No. 3 Stephenson Shaft, named in memory of the colliery’s founder, was sunk from 1913-1915. Seams worked during the life of the colliery included the Roaster seam (till 1885), the Upper Main, Yard Seam, Middle Lount seam, Nether Lount seam, Smoile, New Main and Lower Main. The colliery was bought by the South Leicestershire Colliery Company in 1885.


Snibston pit pony ‘French’, exhibited at the 1933 Royal Show at Derby. Photo Credit – Coal Authority 

At nationalisation in 1947 Snibston initially became part of the NCB East Midlands Division No. 8 Area, going into the amalgamated No. 7 Area a year later in the first NCB major reorganisation in the region. In 1967 the colliery went into the NCB South Midlands Area following another major reorganisation of the coal industry. Electric winding was introduced at No. 2 and No. 3 shafts in 1959 and at the Stephenson shaft in 1964.


Snibston Colliery in the late 1950’s.  Photo Credit – Coal Authority

In the1961-63 period a 925 yard surface drift was driven at a 1 in 4 incline as part of a major reorganisation at the colliery. Underground connections were made with nearby New Lount Colliery (closed 1968) and South Leicester Colliery (closed 1986), from 1964 all output from these collieries surfaced at Snibston for preparation. In 1969 an underground connection was made with nearby Whitwick Colliery (closed 1986). Record output of 544,958 tons was achieved in 1965-66.


One of the last coal faces at Snibston Colliery  Photo Credit – Coal Authority

Coal production at Snibston Colliery finished in December 1983 after 151 years, but coal from South Leicester and Whitwick Collieries continued to be brought to the surface via the Snibston Surface Drift until closure of both these collieries in July 1986.


Snibston Colliery site in 1987 following demolition of the coal preparation plant.  Photo Credit – Coal Authority

In 1992 the colliery site became part of the Snibston Discovery Centre, a joint discovery centre, museum and country park, which included surface colliery heritage tours as part of its repertoire. The Snibston Discovery centre closed in July 2015. The headstocks were designated as an ancient monument by English Heritage in 1998.  Surface tours at Snibston Colliery recommenced in 2022 organised by Snibston Heritage Trust.


Guided surface tour of the Snibston Colliery site in November 2022. Photo Credit – David Amos