A HISTORY OF WOLSTANTON COLLIERY

By Jim Worgan


The Colliery was originally sunk by a Group of Pottery Manufacturers in 1920, with 2 shafts, to work the ironstone seams at the top of the productive coal measures. In 1927 the No.1 shaft was deepened to 635 yards in order to exploit the upper coal measures. It became clear, however, in the 1950's that the Colliery, together with the adjacent Sneyd and Deep Pit Collieries were nearing the end of their reserves which could be economically worked with the facilities then available. After the scheme for the proposed Bradwell Colliery had been formally abandoned (see above) a major scheme for connecting the 3 Collieries and providing up to date means of ventilation, transport and coal preparation was implemented. One feature in favour of the scheme was that Wolstanton Colliery had direct access to the main railway line from Stoke on Trent to Stafford and Crewe and Manchester. The concentration involved many miles of tunnelling and the sinking of a new shaft, No. 3, together with the deepening of the existing No. 2 shaft down to 1140 yards which were the deepest coal mine shafts in Europe. The existing No. 1 shaft was used to ventilate the upper horizon, where production was abandoned in 1969. No. 2 shaft was used for materials and winding of dirt whilst the new No. 3 shaft was used for winding coal. Nos. 2 and 3 Shafts were of the concrete Tower type and equipped with 3,000 h.p. Koepe Winding systems. Jacking systems were incorporated into the legs of the Tower Winders to compensate for any settlement.

In 1963 the Colliery became the first one in the West Midlands Division to mine 1 million tons of coal in one calendar year, the first since Chatterley Whitfield in 1936. The area worked lay chiefly under heavily built up and industrialised land, much of which was vested in the Duchy of Lancaster. As a result special conditions were laid down which limited mining to only a few of the many workable seams, which often presented problems which of necessity involved special and often inconvenient methods of mining. The area was also affected by major faulting and from the fact that the area had been extensively worked from the 3 former independent Collieries which made systematic layouts very difficult. Work began in late 1974 to drive an underground connection to Chatterley Whitfield Colliery from where coal reached the surface for the first time at Wolstanton in January 1976. By strange irony, the last coal faces worked from Wolstanton were in the area previously allocated to Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. The Colliery never really recovered from the Miners strike of 1984/5 and closed in 1986. Methane from the Colliery was sold to local Industry and a purpose built plant, taking gas from all Collieries connected to the gas main to replace the original Methane Plant at Etruria Gasworks was constructed on site. It remains at the time of writing although only taking gas from Hem Heath and Silverdale Collieries. The site is now the Wolstanton Retail Park.

The site was owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and was only purchased by the National Coal Board in the 1980's.

See also Old Pits By Geoff Mould

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