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Mining News

This page is a link to some of the recent articles we have found about mining. Note that the links are to external sites and so may well become out of date and cease to work:

Morwellham mining museum in Devon saved from closure

BBC News, 15th April 2010.

One of Devon's highest profile tourist attractions has been saved from permanent closure.

Morwellham Quay has been bought by Simon and Valerie Lister, who run Bicton Park Botanical Gardens near Budleigh Salterton in Devon. The open-air mining museum went into administration in September 2009, after Devon County Council withdrew its funding. The new owners now hope to reopen the World Heritage site by September.

In the 1970s Morwellham Quay attracted more than 150,000 visitors a year, but that number has dropped by two-thirds. In September 2009, Devon County Council announced it was to stop funding Morwellham, a Unesco World Heritage Site, leaving it with a £1m shortfall. It went into administration, closed in October and was put up for sale with a guide price of £1.1m.

Councillor John Hart, leader of Devon County Council, said: "The new ownership will put Morwellham Quay on a more financially secure footing, and I wish them well for the future in these exciting times."

The Listers were unavailable for comment. In its heyday as an attraction about 300 people were employed at the site, which once served the local silver, tin and copper mines.

Fears grow for missing miners at Upper Big Branch Coal Mine

BBC, 7th April 2010

25 miners have died after an explosion on 5th April at Upper Big Branch Coal Mine, West Virginia, USA. Read More....

China rescuers battle toxic gas as more bodies found

BBC 7th April 2010

Rescuers trying to reach miners trapped in the Wangjialing mine in China's Shanxi province are facing of a build-up of toxic gas, officials have warned.

A mineshaft as deep as Nelson's Column in the garden brings a hole lot of trouble for couple

Daily Mail 21st December 2008

Another coal mine shaft collapse. This time the CA fenced it off before it collapsed.

Mark and Susan Gilbert watched in horror as the ground caved in and a 'vast crater' appeared just steps away from their back door of their £250,000 home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Had the Gilberts been sitting on their patio when the mineshaft opened up they could have plunged to their deaths. The stunned couple heard a 'loud creaking' moments before their patio collapsed into the pitch-black chasm. When the smoke and debris finally cleared, they were left with a giant hole measuring 15ft in diameter - and a staggering 165ft (50m) deep.

Read more:

Tunnel Vision

Observer, Thurday 4th December 2008

Newspaper ArticleIn the past year about 500 explosions have been carried out beneath the city centre, creating a new tunnel which runs for half a mile through some of the country's hardest rock.

The Dramway

Evening Post, Thurday 17th November 2008

Newspaper ArticleThe construction of the Dramway between Coalpit Heath and Bristol straddled the period between horse-drawn transport and the newly invented steam engine.

Coal Mine Death

21st July 2008

On 17 July 2008, an adult caver became unconscious, apparently due to a lack of oxygen, soon after entering a disused coal mine shaft. Despite prompt efforts by his companion on the surface and the rescue services, he died in hospital three days later. Following this recent death the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority have issued a statement - it is aimed at organizations providing commercial activities in caves and mines but contains some useful points and should be considered carefully by anyone contemplating exploring abandoned coal workings. NAMHO have also added these details to their website adding that coal mines are .. dangerous places and entering / interference with such workings is prohibited in the UK. NAMHO has also asked for a positive response from mine explorers to stay well clear of coal workings, otherwise these workings and the surface archaeology are likely to be destroyed.

For more information on the story see:
BBC News article
and (an earlier one)
BBC News article

Shedding new Light on Mining Disaster

Evening Post Tuesday 9th April 2008

Newspaper ArticleA century ago, coal mining was one of the North Summerset's main industries. But 100 years ago today an explosion at the Norton Hill Colliery left 10 men dead and shattered a community. Now an exhibition and talk are being held in Midsomer Norton to commemorate the anniversary of the disaster.

How Dry Coal Dust led to Pit Disaster

Evening Post Tuesday 8th April 2008

Newspaper ArticleCoal mining was once the biggest industry in the Radstock/Midsomer Norton area. Norton Hill Colliery had a good safety record - but 100 years ago this week an explosion left 10 men dead and a community in mourning.

'Recognition at last for two 'Bevin Boys'

Gazette Thursday 3rd April 2008 - By Alex Ross

Newspaper ArticleTWO unsung heroes from World War Two have expressed their delight at finally receiving recognition for their efforts.

Pensioners Jack Allen, of Almondsbury, and Selwyn Jones, of Thornbury, spent a combined total of seven hard years conscripted to working in coal mines during and after the war.

The men were part of a 'forgotten army' of 48,000 'Bevin Boys' whose shoulders it fell on to fill a labour shortage in the mines, which threatened coal production.

Following a campaign, the government announced that the Bevin Boys - taken from the name of Minister of Labour and National Service Ernest Bevin - would get recognition for their wartime efforts.

Selwyn, aged 83, has received his commemorative badge while Jack, aged 82, is in the process of applying. Both said they were 'honoured' by the recognition.

Jack, who served at mines in Houghton, Midsomer Norton and Coalpit Heath between 1944 and 1947, said: "We were the forgotten army of the war. I had my eyes set on joining the armed forces but was conscripted to go down the mines - I was devastated but had no choice.

"Entering the mines was a tough and dangerous job, it taught me respect of the miners and we just couldn't wait to get out. When we were eventually demobbed we received little recognition, it was as if we did nothing for the war effort. Like us the armed forces were given 56 days' pay - but it was a hell of a lot more than what we got."

Jack still holds photographs and a £3.33 a week payslip from his time in the mines. He added: "Recognition is great news for all of us Bevin Boys. It's just a shame it comes too late for many of them."

Selwyn was training to be a teacher at York University in 1944 when he was called up to miners' service. His wife Eluned, known as Lynne, spoke on behalf of him. "I know he is pleased to receive the badge," she said. "Although quite enjoying the job he did find it very challenging. He just knew what he had to do and got on with it. The work could be very dangerous, some days he would spend eight to nine hours pulling coal out of seams just two to three feet high. He was pleased to get out by the end of it." Selwyn later finished his teacher training and worked at schools in Patchway, Bristol and Almondsbury. Eluned added: "It is important people like Selwyn are recognised for the work they put in - I'm delighted."

Jack's wife Pat said: "I couldn't think of anything worse than work as a Bevin Boy. It's about time they got the due respect they all deserve."

Former 'Bevin Boy' proud to have wartime efforts recognised.

Evening Post, 27th March 2008
Observer, 3rd April 2008

Newspaper ArticleA former 'Bevin Boy' from Bristol is looking forward to receiving a badge for his work during World War II.

Newspaper Article

At last, recognition for Bevin Boys

Evening Post, 26th March 2008

Newspaper ArticleTWENTY-SEVEN "Bevin Boys", who worked in Britain's coal mines during World War ll received commemorative badges from Gordon Brown yesterday - including Sir Jimmy Savile.

Yate Mine Shaft Collapse

25th March 2008

Some time over the Easter weekend (March 2008) a mine shaft near Yate collapsed. It is believed that this was part of a colliery that closed in 1888, with several shafts some around 300m deep. The area has now been sealed off by the Coal Authority with a security fence. They will then probably take the area down to the bedrock before filling and capping the shaft.

Please note that the site is on private land, so visits should be by appointment and at your own risk.

Postcard of the Week - Kilmersdon Colliery

5th February 2008 - Evening Post - Bristol Times
Postcard of the Week, Kilmersdon Colliery

Jill Finds Mineshaft In Garden (Bristol)

29 January 2008 - Evening Post

A homeowner had the shock of her life when a huge hole appeared in her garden.

New hole at Robertson Road

Jill Hembury was relaxing at home in Greenbank when she heard a loud noise outside.

Hours earlier she had been turning a compost heap on the very spot a 3ft square hole opened up. Ms Hembury and her son peered into the 18ft deep, fishbowl shaped hole under the garden, which she believes is a disused mineshaft.

The 47-year-old civil servant has been renting the Robertson Road property since a fire burned her last house to the ground. She said: "The night before I heard this 'whomf' noise and thought a lorry had shed its load. The next day I went into the garden to turn the compost again and there was this gaping cavern."

"We think it used to be what is called a bell pit. Apparently, these go up to 90 metres down and are dug side by side. We are in the centre of three pits, the Easton Colliery, Whitehall Colliery and the smaller Dunball Colliery."

"My son wanted to tie a friend to the washing line and lower him down, but we obviously didn't do that. There was no smell of gas in the hole and I lit a newspaper page to see what was down there. We poked a board down there and it was more than 18ft deep.

"It's a big hole though and I'm a bit scared to go into the garden now. I subsequently found out that the house down the road is partly fallen down, it looks lob sided.

The Easton area is said to be riddled with old mine shafts. The Easton Colliery was worked by teams of men and boys in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eight were killed in a pit explosion in 1886 and the colliery was abandoned in 1911.

Troopers Hill Fireclay Works

15th January 2008 - Evening Post - Bristol Times Fireclay works a mine of memories

30th May 2007 From Andrew Brander

Anyone fancy a theatrical event for the mining calendar?

Travel deep into the underworld with a man who risks everything to bring the love of his life back from the cold clutches of Hades.

Based on the epic story of Opheus and Eurydice, SOUTERRAIN is a tale of love and adventure in the underworld. The men have come home at last. They have been away at war for seven years. The women are throwing a welcome home party for them, there is dancing, singing, music and excitement. Everything is going to be alright, but then something goes wrong....

Dolcoath Mine, Camborne is this year's only UK venue. This unique event is set in and around a mining site, so come prepared for rugged terrain, dress for the outdoors and if possible wear walking shoes.

Friday, July 13, 2007 - Saturday, August 04, 2007 8.30pm

For more information see the Hall for Cornwall website and the Dolcoath Mine website.

25th May 2007 From Andrew Brander

The 3rd International Symposium on Archaeological Mining History will be held from the 9th-11th of May 2008 in Valkenburg and Maastricht, South of the Netherlands and Kanne-Riemst which is a border region to Belgium.

The symposium was established in 2006 when it was held for the first time in Reichelsheim, Germany, and in 2007 the members travelled to Freiberg, also in Germany. Both assemblies, focussing on medieval mining, were successful in bringing researchers and officials from several European regions together in a discussion about archaeological mining history in all its aspects.

For more information visit their website

3rd April 2007 From David Hardwick

SGMRG members may be interested in this news item about Hatfield Colliery being re-opened

15th March 2007 From David Hardwick

Members might be interested in the following website of old pictures of coalmining in North Wales

At least one of these pictures was used in Richard Humphries talk to the SGMRG on the area, it being a picture used in NCB safety material - I think the picture is the one showing how NOT to remove a prop!!
- interesting to see it now also the basis of a sculpture.

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