Thorseby Colliery

Shaft sinking started in 1947, opened in 1952 and closed in 1993 after 41 Years

Calverton Colliery was closed in 1993 but re-opened again. (see 1994). Maximum output 1,243,056 tons 1963/64 with 1,487 men. Maximum manpower was 1,837 in 1958. The colliery had lost over £6m from May to November 1993. Of the 300 men, 100 were offered jobs at Clipstone, Thoresby, Harworth or Welbeck, in Nottinghamshire or Maltby in Yorkshire, the rest taking redundancy terms.

Photo by Stuart Tomlinson

Sir Hubert Houldsworth, Chairman of the NCB wished the pit ‘God speed’ as it was the first pit to be opened by the NCB and the first rail link. Lord Leather made a speech and pressed the button to start the washery plant that was planned to deal with 450 tons per hour. The colliery was planned to produce 1 million tons a year for 100 years. A new colliery village was built to house the workforce. The colliery would be re-opened in 1994 by RJB.

  • Underground locos: 2’ 0” gauge. The diesels were used for pit bottom marshalling and High Main salvage.
5 small locos at 25 to 28 hp were used in the Low Bright / Brinsley seam.
  • 2 x 0-6-0 DMF 100hp HC 1948, 0-4-0 DMF 68hp HC 1948
  • 3 x DMF 100hp HC 1952
  • 3 x 4wDMF 22hp HE 1953, 4wDMF 24hp HE 1954, 0-6-0 DMF 100hp HC 
1956, 4wDMF 48DLZ RH 1958, 0-6-0 DMF 100hp HC 1959
  • 2 x 4wDMF 23hp HE 1961, 0-6-0 DMF 100hp HC 1962, 0-6-0 DMF 100hp 
HC 1963
  • 2 x 4DMF 25hp HC 1965, 0-6-0 DMF 100hp HC 1966, 4wDMF 28hp HE 
1974, 4wDMF 28hp HE 1980, 4wDMF 28hp HE 1981 .

Seams Worked:

The Abdy/Brinsley coal 2’ 10” (0.89m), mud 1’ 9” (0.54m), coal 6” (0.16m), mud 1” (0.04m), coal 6” (0.15m), mud 8” (0.20m), coal 1’ 6” (0.67m) 1972 -13th Oct 1993, originally called Low Bright / Brinsley until 1989 accessed by 2 drifts at 1in5 from High Main, 100m below started in 1970 and High Hazles 40” (1.01m) 1981-1996 accessed by 2 drifts from Abdy / Brinsley 1977 and High Main app 40” (1.02m) thick 1948-1952 dev, 1953- 23/12/1977. Manpower at finish was 471 underground /102 surface plus 23/11 contractors.

The shafts were 576 yards (527m) and 562 yards (514m) deep and 18 feet 3 inches (5.54m) and 20 feet 3 inches (6.15m) diameter respectively.

No1 electric winder manufactured by Fraser and Chalmers, 391 Kw with a bio -cylindrical conical drum and a locked coil rope of 43mm dia with a breaking strain of 113 tonnes.

No2 shaft winder, 1,640 Kw Fraser and Chalmers with 2 drums, one fast and the other clutched, both 5.3m dia. The winding rope was 170mm circumference locked coil with a breaking strain of 212 tonnes. A wide coal heading was driven from Bestwood called the Calverton Head, to gob the dirt in the excavated sides, then a roadway to the sinking position. Roadways were driven to form a water lodge and later drift drivages to High Hazles and High Main and Abdy Brinsley.

When the first shaft was sunk it was used for ventilation intake to Bestwood and as a manriding shaft for the miners working in that part of Bestwood Top Hard from 1939. Following the second shaft sinking 4 parallel headings at 20 yards (18.25m) centres in the High Main seam started in 1948 were driven on strike to North and South of shafts.

In 1952 the South heads encountered a 10 feet (3m) fault. Shafts were measured in 1950 and check measured 1976. High Main pit bottom base checked by Gyro theodolite and agreed to 7 seconds of arc.

The first longwall face was opened in 1951 in a North West direction, the second face to the North side of shaft pillar opened in 1953. 3 further sets of headings were driven in a North East direction to bring district roadways off of them onto strike for ease of servicing… 40s Loco Road, 40s Belt Road, 40s Return to south of the shafts and 50s Loco Road, 50s Belt Road and 50s Re- turn and 60s Loco Road and 60s Belt Road commenced North of the shafts.

Princess Margaret visited the mine on 7th April 1954

Dowty Roofmaster hydraulic face supports were pioneered in 1957 on 41s.

A High Main short wall face 21s was tried in 1962 but was unsuccessful. In 1963 a connection from Linby development headings was made to Calverton 30s district and a second connection into 30s closer to 60s headings. There was also disturbed ground in certain areas as well as a washout. A protection pillar had to be left for Papplewick Pumping station. The High Main panel numbers were changed to comply with the rest of the Area and M58 became known as 258s and M40 as 240s, however the numbering system previously did not appear to have any logic whatsoever as is seen below.

A Loco shed was erected in 1956 for a Stephenson Crossley 300/330 Diesel Loco and there was a spotter device for railway wagons, called a ‘mule’.

Pithead baths were opened in 1955/56.
A Trepanner was installed in 1956 in the High Main seam and a skip at No2 shaft.

A telephone exchange was operational in 1956 and Russian mining engineers visited the mine. Also in 1956 a ‘Butler’ stretcher carrier for use on tub tracks was operational.

Stables in the pit bottom were opened in the same year for a few ponies.

A prefabricated steel Air crossing 4’ x 5’ (1.2 x 1.5m) sections made by William Wrigley and Sons Ltd at 44s High Main RHG / 40s intake was erected in 1957.

Trials with various lip supports for horseheads and a conveyor with a rope structure in 1960.

Many visitors were attracted to the new modern mine including British Transport Commission for the London Midland Region and a group of Labour Party MPs in 1959. Lord Robens the Chairman of the NCB and MR Garner Minister of Power visited the colliery in 1961. In the previous year there were a visits by the East Midlands Clean Air Society, a Headmaster and Youth employment, Chamber of Commerce Nottingham.

A Miner’s Welfare was opened in 1963.
Stables opened in 1963 for ponies that were used underground. Mastabar supports were installed on 55s face.

Modifications were made to the washery plant in 1965. A large diameter underground vertical bunker was constructed in the High Main pit bottom area and later a further vertical bunker at A2s district area in the High Hazles.

Materials transport by Loco and endless rope and Becorit Loco system to High Hazles and manriding by Becorit Trapped-rail Loco and 2-way conveyors to Low Bright / Brinsley and materials were transported by 100hp and Pony Lo- cos and manriding was by Diesel Loco and 2-way conveyor belt.

South West chocks were installed on C1s Low Bright face in 1972.
A Hollybank Palm tree junction was constructed underground in that year. Bestwood High Main workings were abandoned in 1967.

In 1970 a triangulation of Calverton, Linby, Hucknall, Annesley and Newstead was carried out and underground checks done using Gyro theodolite and Auto-plumb at the shafts, a very small difference from the previous correlation of 15 seconds of arc, a most satisfying result.

A weigh bridge and office was built in 1951.

In the 1980s Calverton was chosen as a trial colliery for computerisation and great strides were made in producing notices and plans by computer, the idea being to spread the system to all pits.

The computer and printing machine was in the Survey office and Mick Clayton was the Surveyor who was given the task of promoting it and developing pro- grams. The idea would spread to the few remaining collieries later when it was possible then to print out most of the plans required at a pit. The Working plan of each seam at the mines though would always be plotted and inked in and coloured by hand.

The coal prep plant had a capacity of 500 tonnes per hour by 2 Baum wash boxes. The run of mine is fed from the skip pockets into a 750 tonnes bunker that had a facility to load to a stockpile if necessary. The material was out loaded in times of low production from the faces. The product was sent to a 2,000 tonnes rapid loading bunker or by lorry from 3 landsale bunkers. Foreign coal could be added to the system as a sweetener.

Dirt disposal was by TS14 and TS24 scrapers and bulldozer. In 1992 a Dosco 65hp MkIIA was replaced with a Dosco SL120H due to the rock strengths in the cross measures 1in5 drift to the Top Hard seam being in excess of 14,000psi

Colliery was closed 1993 but re-opened again. (see 1994). Maximum output 1,243,056 tons
1963/64 with 1,487 men.
Maximum manpower was 1,837 in 1958. The colliery had lost over £6m from May to November 1993. Of the 300 men, 100 were offered jobs at Clipstone, Thoresby, Harworth or Welbeck, in Nottinghamshire or Maltby in Yorkshire, the rest taking redundancy terms.

Acknowledgements to Bob Bradley and Healy’s Hero’s site for their kind permission for use of their information. Produced by The Nottinghamshire Mining Museum. All rights reserved.