Report - - Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, January 2010 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, January 2010

Oxygen Thief

Staff member

A brief bit of the complex history of this site, quoted from http://www.ihbc.org.uk/context_archive/109/yates/yates.html

Chatterley Whitfield colliery is the most complete surviving large colliery from the peak years of the English coal industry – the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It survived because it was already a museum in the 1980s, when its contemporaries and competitors were swept away. A national survey of coal-mining sites under English Heritage’s Monuments Protection Programme showed that this was the best big mine in England. As a result the site and some structures were scheduled as an ancient monument, while the more useable buildings became Grade II* and II listed historic buildings. In 1937 Chatterley Whitfield was the first colliery in England to produce over one million tons in a year. At this time it employed almost 4,000 people. Nationalisation in 1947 led to a further period of investment above and below ground in the early 1950s, then production slowly declined until closure in 1976. The site reopened as a museum in 1978, backed by the National Coal Board and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The expectation was that this would be the National Coal Mining Museum. Former miners took visitors underground, into workings drained and ventilated by links to the then still operational Wolstanton colliery across the city. However,Wolstanton closed in 1985, and the museum could not sustain pumping and ventilating costs... in 1993 the museum closed.
This was an amazing day. After not being able to get to my number one place, and then risking certain death at another, I decided to get an update on Chatterley Whitfield. Before you know it I was in and up close to the Hesketh Pit...



At this stage I'm already well on edge here, the security have been known to be fearsome, and some while ago we got torched up a headstock and had to lie low for a while. So far so good anyway. There's a scramble bike making a shed load of noise that's covering up my crunching on the ice, so that's good.

The Hesketh Pit has a virtually intact mine car circuit...


This is where the tubs would have been tipped upside down to empty them...


Now this brings me to a quick point. Just the day before, I was telling Dweeb about Beringen and how it's so amazing because it's got things like these, and here we are in the UK with exactly the same things.

Well headstock number one is calling me...


and up we must go...


There's a steam winder hiding in that shed I believe...


Big wheels...



That done, it's down to Middle Pit. The winding room to be precise. This is what it's about. This is a history lesson unfolding in front of me, I'm in my element with this visual feast and the thought that security might be hunting me like a dog outside.

Old winding rules...


New winding rules...


But that's the little stuff. This is what I'm here to see...



Then, all hell breaks loose outside. Lots of shouting and ranting. Damn. Is it me he's after or the kids I saw at the Hesketh Pit area a little earlier? Problem is there's a single set of footprints leading straight to me. Not that it was an error, I just didn't care to be honest.

Well, after a short while I moved on. Where there's a winding room expect headstocks. Up we go...

The wheels of Middle Pit headstocks...


The view looking towards Institute Pit and Hesketh Pit...


With Institute Pit just metres away, we're going for the third headstock now.



Up we go and... here's the wheels...



The fourth headstock now. That's going to involve a sprint down the main track and past (or into) security. We've done alright so far, and before you know it, we're at Winstanley Pit...


Minutes later...


That's it all four done. Good result but it's still light, let's go and find something else.

Hmmmm didn't there used to be a museum here, "The Chatterley Whitfield Experience"? Why yes there was, and we're going to find it. Seems it was distributed across the site though, and the 'underground' section was levelled some time ago when there was a collapse. Still, I managed to get to the old museum and shop...


Oldham Chargers...


The mine map was nice, look how complicated it is in the North, sorry for lack of clarity here...




Access denied due to ticket office being closed...


And finally...


Well that finished the day off well. All four headstocks and the museum. A great day out.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Difficult to manage all 4 Headstocks in a single visit, I've done all 4 in the daylight but not on the same day! The mural is excellent I've not seen that before. I'm assuming its near the lamp room?

The "things" tub hall are called tipplers, As far as I know they are the only ones left in the UK its also the only old style Tub hall left too. There are lots of similar examples in germany but its sad we have so few left here. Working with tubs was phased out by many pits during modernisation schemes after the pits were nationalised. Instead of using tubs Skip Winding became common (the coal is loaded into a skip at the bottom of the shaft and dumped into a conveyor at the top.) Some mines never made the change over though and worked with tubs until the day they closed.

The map is interesting, as it obvously shows both old Board and Pillar working areas and the modern road ways and mechanised faces that must have been worked just before closure.

I've got a few Pictures of the Mock up museum kicking about, I think it was knocked down at the end of 2006.

I'm glad security are still active its good to know they are at least trying to keep the little shits out.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I went there the early years that it was open to the public and then again many years later.

The first time was brilliant- we went down a real cage into the deep workings, I think it was the Winstanley shaft. Outside the headstock building, the wizened old guide told us that when we went inside, to go as far across as possible into the cage then turn round. This we duly did and when he followed us in he burst out laughing, saying-

"Yer daft buggers- this is the bloody airlock!"

The second time was a grockle travesty- the mine was basically faked in the sub-surface workings, plastic coal seams et al. The health n' safety lift cage went down all of about fifteen feet.

The National Coal Mining Museum is worth a visit in Wakefield, you do go down a reasonable distance but the cage is a techno-styled passenger lift & there is a certain amount of fakery down below for artistic license.

It does have a drift emergency exit route that might be worth a look for a bit of off piste/out of hours visiting...

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