A HISTORY OF FLORENCE COLLIERY

By Jim Worgan


The Colliery takes its name from the 3rd Duke of Sutherland's eldest daughter whilst the area of Florence is just to the south of Longton. Shaft sinking (2 shafts with a 3rd sunk around 1916) commenced in 1874 on land which formed part of the Trentham Estate where it was intended to mine both coal and ironstone. Initially the undertaking was small but to assist in the development of the mine, a private railway was constructed to connect with the NSR line at Trentham. Completed in 1876, the line was originally worked by the NSR until the Duke obtained his own locomotives in 1882. The undertaking was however entirely separate from The Stafford Coal and Iron Co. Ltd and was worked privately by the Duke until a private Limited Liability Company -Florence Colliery Ltd. - was incorporated in October 1891. The 3rd Duke died in September 1892 and in May 1896 the Company was dissolved to be replaced by a new Company -Florence Coal and Iron Co. Ltd - which allowed the then Duke additional powers in the management of the undertaking.

Following the commissioning of a report an agreement was entered into between The Coking Co Ltd (A subsidiary of the Shelton Iron, Steel and Coal Co Ltd) and Florence Coal and Iron Co Ltd in March 1911 whereby the former agreed to work the current mining lease area until its expiry in 1950. Profits were to be shared on a 50 - 50 basis and the assets of the Florence Coal and Iron Co Ltd were loaned to the new Company free of charge. The Company instituted many Reconstruction schemes both underground and on the surface and much of the output was destined for Shelton Steelworks. Manpower was increased and output rose from 275,000 tons in 1924 to 567,000 tons by 1940 and gradually fell to 394,000 tons by 1945. Following the closure of New Haden Colliery in Cheadle in 1943 their output was transferred to Florence Colliery to make better use of the workforce.

After Nationalisation in 1947 the Coking Co Ltd continued to operate the coking plant at Shelton until it went into voluntary liquidation in 1955, but the final Florence Meeting was not held until April 1962 even though the company had not owned the Colliery since 1947.

Major reconstruction schemes were instituted by the National Coal Board which involved shaft sinking, Horizon Mining, installation of electric winding engines, 2 of which were Tower Mounted, together with a new Coal Preparation Plant. The Colliery prospered and was one of the most profitable in the North Staffordshire Coalfield. Shortly before the closure of the adjacent Parkhall Colliery in 1962 an underground connection was made with Florence for ventilation and pumping purposes. The connection was sealed off by the mid 1960's.

The Colliery became part of the Trentham Project in the 1970's (See Hem Heath Colliery). Surplus methane was disposed of via the gas grid.

Following the takeover by Coal Investments, the underground connections to Hem Heath Colliery were sealed off, the shafts filled and all surface structures demolished. The latest plans for the site are the Construction of Houses.

During the 1970's, trials were carried out with various grasses and the tips were subsequently seeded and let out to a local farmer for sheep grazing.

The Mineral Railway originally terminated just to the North of Trentham Station and until the cessation of coal preparation at Stafford Colliery in the early 1960's (Transferred to Hem Heath Colliery) there was no physical connection between the Florence Mineral Railway and the internal network from Hem Heath to Stafford Colliery. New sidings were constructed, and thereafter trains to and from Florence ceased to travel direct to Trentham. Until the late 1940's there was a small wharf adjacent to Trentham Station and branches from the mineral line went to both Blurton Tilery and Blurton Waste Farm. The line was taken out of use following the transfer of coal winding activities to Hem Heath Colliery.

See also Old Pits By Geoff Mould

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