Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane

Thrybergh

South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver

 

 

 

 

 

Home Page

Site Guide

HISTORY

The Shaft is Sunk

Dalton Mining Co

Early Years

Early Years 2
1913 Accident

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

War Years at the Mine

1919

Early Trains

The 1920's

War Memorial of 1923

1930's

Travelling to work

Coke Ovens

1940's

1947 Accident

1950's

The Blacking Mill

1966 Disaster

The Silverwood Disaster song

1970's

Mine improvements 1970

Journey to the Face

1980's

Loading Coal

Maps of Workings

1984 Strike

1984 Strike 2

The Miners Return

The 1985 Strike

One Million Tonnes

Weekly Record

Home of Quality

Riddor Incident

Silverwood Closure

Silverwood Closure 2

Final Years Photos

Stuart Tomlins Collection

Stuart Tomlins Collection 2

Stuart Tomlins Collection 3

Sunset on Silverwood

The Last Trains

Final Years

Final Years 2

Work After Silverwood

Silverwood 2007

Listing of Miners

The Colliers

Where the Miners of Silverwood came from

Origins of Miners

Work and Leisure

Working Life

Biographies and Tributes

Individuals

Facts, Stories and Features

Interesting facts

Legends from the Mine

Tales from the Mine

Mining Information

Mining Information

For Your Use

Students Page

Guest Book

Messages

Local Villages

Thrybergh

Ravenfield

Dalton

1970 ONWARD

 

John Berry  started at Silverwood straight from school in April 1970, aged 15 years. He trained as an electrician, and completed his apprenticeship at 19 years old and continued to work as an electrician until April 1994. Like many with the closure of Silverwood John had to seek work outside the mining industry, and is now a Group Health & Safety and QA Manager at Advance Security UK Ltd. In a recent email John writes "I have just viewed your Silverwood Colliery web site and have been transported back to a very special time of my life."

 A wry comment from Geoff Illsley who supplied the following information who realizing that between 1950 and 1970 the workforce was cut by 50% "it seems that if you halved the manpower you needed to quadruple the management!"

Manpower; below ground – 1089
above ground - 321
General Manager - Mr F Thompson
Deputy Manager - Mr R Edwards
Undermanager's - Mr SM Halder,Mr H Pitchford,  Mr CJ Dorlin,  ;Mr JA BrownMr R Sherwood and Mr RC Watson
Source: Colliery Guardian - Guide to the Coalfields 1971


During 1971 Jack Bowen a driver who had worked at the mine since 1928 died at Silverwood, I do not know the cause of death at the time of writing.
Youngsters like Colin Winfindale started in 1971, he later left and joined the Royal Navy,  Colin returned and went back down the pit in 1978  until 1988  as a Beltman. Colin came from a mining background of mining, as his older brother by 18 years Thomas Winfindale worked at the mine pre 1970. Dickie Winfindale was his father a miner of 41 years, passed away in 1988 of lung dust.  Other Winfindale's  Arthur, Sammy and David who also worked at the mine were Uncles.
In 1972 the Barnsley scheme was exhausted making the Swallow Wood seam the main supply of coal for Silverwood, with further development this seam in 1978 placed Silverwood in the Million Tonner Pits listing, producing in excess of one million tonnes of coal per year. Later years saw the additions of larger winders, better manriding  and material handling systems, making Silverwood one of the most efficient mines in England and Europe.

One of the characters at Silverwood was Tom Reed otherwise known as Tommy Toddles by the miners, he was in charge of the cage and checked the men on and off.

 

Dave Edwards worked at Silverwood from 1955 to 1971 starting as a haulage hand in the pit bottom then went onto coal face and became a deputy . He emigrated to Australia in 1971 with his wife and 2 children. He writes: As a young deputy I was privileged to work with officials like Danny Jones and Bill Turner who were always willing to give advice to anyone who was willing to listen. Albert Tuke was the manager at Silverwood in my later years at the mine, one of the best managers Silverwood ever had. I believe his father also worked at the mine and he was rightly proud of his son . It would be great to see their names added to the list, they should all be proud to have worked at Silverwood when the mine was breaking all sorts of production records. I will watch with great interest your web site.
I started work at Appin colliery NSW where I stayed until I retired. Regards David Edwards Australia "Retired out to grass"
Dave also had quite a few relatives who worked at the mine starting with his grandfather Edmund James Edwards, his  father Edmund James "Eddie" Edwards, great uncle Bill Edwards who ended his time at the mines training centre as an instructor. Uncle Bill Edwards who lived behind Whinny hill, brothers Eddie Edwards, Terry Edwards, and Adrian Edwards who possibly would have been there until closure.

 

During the 1970's the N. A. C.O.D.S Executive were:- J. A. Hale Branch Secretary, H. Marsh Branch President, T. K. Mellor Branch Vice-President

and F. Schofield was Branch Delegate.

The Management at the time prior to the Queens visit were;-  J. Aird Production Manager, P. Lawrence Colliery General Manager, D. Taylor Deputy Manager, the undermanagers were G. Taylor , R. Sherwood, R. Melluish, R. Turner , and G. Newton. M. J. Cawkwell was the Mechanical Engineer, B. Fleet Electrical Engineer, H. Shaw Colliery Surveyor, C. Critchlow Assistant Manager Personnel, R. Norman Safety Engineer, and K. Smith was the Administrative Officer.

 

Wilfred. Bartholomew was a locoman in the 1970’s,Wilfred nicknamed the “Honey Monster” due to his large size, thick ginger hair and his bushy ginger beard. Unfortunately is now [ 2007 ] deceased.

 

Many Miners were  dying from industry related disease's like Joseph Walker a member of the well known Walker family of Thrybergh.  Joseph died in 1973 of the coal dust disease silicosis, after working all of his working days at Silverwood.
In the 1970's a young Electrician died whilst carrying out repairs to the Washers on the surface, a sharp reminder that tragic deaths were not confined to working underground.

 

 Michael (Mick) Shaw started work at Silverwood Colliery from 1972 to October 1993.
From 1972 to 1974 he was a collier at the pit & then from 1974 to 1993 worked as a deputy & acting overman. During this time he was also a miners rescue member.
Today 2007 Mick states "I loved working at Silverwood and would go back tomorrow given the chance. I miss the atmosphere & camaraderie with my workmates."

 

In 1973 another wage dispute was to arise on the12th of  November 1973 The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) began an overtime ban. This panicked the Heath Government and a state of emergency was declared on the following day.
 With a lot of maintenance occurring on the week-ends it came as no surprise that on the 26th of  November over ; 1,000 Northern miners were sent home without pay due to the stoppage of  production  because no weekend maintenance had been carried out..
The situation was now becoming desperate and no agreement was agreed on the pay dispute in a meeting between the NUM and the National Coal Board on the 27th of  December 1973 . By this time 400,000 workers in England and Wales had been laid off due to the fuel crisis. In a further meeting on the 2nd of January 1974 an offer of 40p and 70p per week on top of the current offer was rejected by The Pay Board.

Edward Heath the Prime Minister in a letter of appeal to the president of the NUM on the 24th January 1974 pleaded with the miners to accept what was offered, return to work, and return to negotiations to discuss improvements. Having no confidence in the Heath Government and its promises the NUM decided by 16 votes to 10 to put the matter to its members by  a ballot for a national strike. On the 4th of  February 1974 Edward Heath met with the TUC in a final effort to stop the impending strike but again he failed.  Nine days later the vote was cast and the miners opted to strike from midnight on the 9th of February.

The strike and Edward Heaths decision to call an election was to be the downfall of his career, the election on the 28th of February was a win for Harold Wilson and the labour Party.

The strike was to end on the 11th of  March 1974 the miners were victorious, as for the Government,  well they did what was expected and raised the price of coal, blaming the pay rise for the price increase.

 

Report and accounts Great Britain. National Coal Board 1975
Application has been made to HM Inspectorate of Mines to consider a closely controlled trial at Silverwood colliery of firing a boiler with drained mine gas down to an inflammable gas content of 30%. Capital investment


John Long ex deputy. at Silverwood suffered a sad loss in 1974 when his brother Bertram D Long had a heart attack and died whilst working on the surface, Bertram had worked at Silverwood in the 60 70s  as a collier and had transferred to Kilnhurst during this period but returned to Silverwood.


 

In October of 1975 the Rotherham Advertiser carried an article by J. L. Ferns, in that article he states that :-

"The seam being worked at Silverwood at that time, (1975) is at 900 yards. Above it are 29 other coal seams separated by various rocks and sedimentary material. Seventeen of these seams are less than 20" thick and eight more are less than 30". " The seams are not horizontal because of the many convolutions as the strata were laid down millions of years ago. That and the presence of methane gas in the Barnsley Bed has made for difficulties in mining."


William Newey (bill) who had been a Foreman at the colliery sadly passed away age just 48 on the 24.12/1973, son of Ben and Ethel Newey of Dalton. Ben had worked at the colliery from the early 1920's and had four other sons who also worked at the colliery Jack Newey, Tom Newey, Joe Newey, and Ben Newey jnr.

 

 

In 1975 Silverwood was one of the first mines to introduce a Dosco Mk2a roadheader, which is a light duty borer developed for mining, James Williamson a Kilnhurst Colliery miner did some of his training at Silverwood so that he could work with the Mk2a. This roadborer is still in use today and are found for sale worldwide, though the series has been updated quite a few times by the manufacturer Dosco

 


As other local Mines closed some Miners were transferred to Silverwood, men like Leslie Hartley a Deputy who was transferred in 1977 from the New Stubbin Colliery, and remained at Silverwood until its closure in 1994.
During this period of Silverwood's history the National Coal Board Chairman was Mr. D. Ezra.


On the 31st of July1975 Queen Elizabeth visited the 2200 metre deep coalface at Silverwood Colliery.The Queen underground The cage was lowered very slowly for the descent into the mine. Miners are usually lowered at around 50 feet per second, her majesty was lowered around 25 feet per second. Along with Prince Phillip they rode 1/4 of a mile to the coal face where the Queen was given a freshly cut piece of coal
 

As a Preparation for this visit anything at the mine that didn't move was painted green. Some of the men were to joke that a lot of foremen and undermanagers were painted green. The Manager at this time was Peter Lawrence [ On photo with the Queen right ] and the Mechanical engineer was Mr. M. J. Cawkwell.

Billy Frith, Freddie Powell,  and Fred Hartle, amongst others had their photo taken with Prince Phillip.

 

George (Tupper) Featherstone, who probably worked at Silverwood pit throughout WW2 and definitely did after WW2 until his retirement was the man who drove the Queen on an underground train on her visit in 1975, and lived at Gullingwood Drive in Thrybergh until his death in 1991.

 

Now apparently the Royal Couple spent the night sleeping in the sidings on board the royal train, so another legendary tale emerges of the night the royal family had a kip at Thrybergh. 

 

Donald Pickering  worked at Silverwood from 1976 until the closure of the mine as a coalface development official.

 

Tunnels & tunnelling: Volume 9 1977
Yorkshire mine drift drilling Drifts giving access to reserves of 10 million tonnes of high quality coking coal are being constructed at Silver- wood Colliery in the NCB's South Yorkshire Area to the Swallow Wood Seam in the Braithwell ..

 

The mine still had its characters like Joe Mcdermott, who worked at Silverwood from 1977 to 1989,and was known for his singing on the chair coming out of the mine. Now that must have sounded awesome and I am sure well appreciated by his work mates. Joe came from the Mcdermott family of Dalton and Thrybergh who established themselves at the mine around 1920.

 

 Alan John Riley started at the mine in 1977 and became a fitter working there until 1988. He spent most of his time in the pit bottom. Then did 9 years in the Selby coal field where he went from fitter to site foreman fitter. Following that he then moved to Maltby  pit as a pit top fitter / fabricator on the coal prep plant. Presently [ 2007 ]Alan now works on the railways as a site supervisor with an old Silverwood friend Nigel Walker who is also a site supervisor. Alan tells me that thanks to this website he has  found that his grandfather and four uncles worked at Silverwood, and that in keeping up the family tradition his son Steven is presently [2007 ] working at Maltby colliery in the control room.

 

Sid Scales writes:

Sid Scales snr deputy, Sid Scales jnr., Lol Scales, Charlie Scales. Sid Scales jnr worked at the mine from 1964 –1978 then left the NCB to go contracting, so did Charlie 1969-1978 all good men fine workers who really knew their job Sid injured in 1988 and forced into retirement Charlie finished up working on the channel tunnel all on the scrapheap now thanks to Maggie Thatcher.


In 1979 Mike Mcgann became undermanager and stayed until 1987, his father Hugh had worked there since 1923 and his Grandfather John had worked at the mine as a Shaft sinker when the mine was first sunk.


Silverwood saved a lot of money when it started using free natural gas to heat up the water in the Pit head Baths in 1979

 

Steve Matthews writes I started work at Silverwood on 24th September 1979...2 days after my wedding. Yes...no honeymoon...just straight darn pit !
I lived at 7 The Wellway, Sunnyside for the first 9 years at Silverwood but moved to Brinsworth, Rotherham where I still reside today. I left Silverwood on 1st Feb 92..having seen the impending closure looming so made a fresh go of things....one thing is I'll never forget the years at Silverwood !  a great work colleague of mine. Barry 'mad as a hatter ' Gray.....
I spent many happy years down Silverwood...yes happy as the lads I worked with, we were like brothers and we all looked after each other...not just down the mine but out of work as well. I had a quality check number ..No 2....I obtained this after I had been asked by one of the old trainers in the pit top offices on the first day I started at Silverwood to pick from a list of checks. I asked for the lowest number he'd got and the rest is history so they say......some blokes use to call me by my number instead of my name...pit humour no 2 ? I guess it was but I took it in good banter...

I was made aware that the number use to belong to a fella by the name of Abrahams...later on I use to work with his son/grandson ?...such was the continuation of family generations throughout the years the pit was open...

My mother was a Dalton lass ( Critchley)..still going strong at 72.....and her father Fred and three brothers Ronnie, Eric and Brian all worked underground.
Ronnie was a face machine worker, Eric a face worker and Brian a loader gate ripper. All still alive and I bet with a million stories to tell. Guess that's where I got my mining side from. Ronnie's lad, David (RIP ), was fitter on the opposite shift to me. He was one of the lads buried alive trying to dig for coal during the strike...sadly he died of cancer a few years ago. One thing he always shouted to me in the pit bottom as I got of the chair to start my shift. as he got on to go home was 'Family' at the top of his voice.....not Couz or Cousin but Family....as that's what we were....

 

Many miners were very flexible and versatile in their employment and  would learn many aspects of mining during their years at the pit. Brian Whitehead who started in 1979 was such a man and his son Chris informs us that his dad worked as a conveyor attendant, supply man, belt man and latterly as a face and heading man. Brian finished at Silverwood in 1992 shortly before it's closure.

 

  In November 2010 Jack Macreadie from Sunnyside who worked at Silverwood  Silverwood Aug 1972 to July1988 then Maltby 1988 to 1993 then Selby 1993 October 2004  sent in the following:

I have just taken time to read / look at the web page of Silverwood. Its very good. I was looking at the list of names. Some good memories in there. I have read Jeff Lovell's bit saw a message from Mick Mcghan  from the list You could go on for ages.
I regularly speak to Gerry Hunt, Charlie Kemp, Trevor Gibson, Jack Parker and yes we all ask each how we are going and then you have to start
reminiscing. Keep up the good work.


Recently in 2011 I received this email which I place here from a man who spent just three months at Silverwood a short period which he has obviously remembered fondly.

"Hi, I saw your site, found it by looking for details on Silverwood colliery. As a student of mining engineering from Istanbul I worked for about 3 months at this colliery in late 1979. Now retired and I have  very good memories of these old days. Greetings to all people I met. Especially to my old friend John Kevin (Jack) Macreadie from Sunnyside who worked together at this colliery. Also to my landlady Emily, her husband Alan and her son Glynn Parker from Rawmarsh nr. Rotherham. I hope all people I met are living healthy  and read my message.

V.Semih Buyukakin,Istanbul.

 

 

 

 

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