Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver





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Presentation by Ralph and John Law

Text John Doxey


From the moment the miner entered the cage his life was at risk until they emerged at the end of their shift. As they were lowered down the 221" diameter shaft to the pit bottom some762 yards depth we can only imagine what may have crossed their minds at times as the cage was lowered at 50ft per second.

There was even danger using the cage as Bruce Wilson discovered one night when he and several others had " The ride of a lifetime"


Once they reached the bottom of the shafts the gates would be opened by an Onsetter, Nigel Walker was at one time employed in that position. He explains that an onsetter worked at the bottom of the west pit and east pit shaft side. The men came down the shaft on the chair and we opened the gates to let the men off the chair, when the man riding was finished, we also unloaded supplies so they could go to the paddy's for the men on the face inbye.




The graph on the right shows the depth of each Silverwood seam worked. As can be seen the depths were around 1/2 mile underground, and one can well understand why many miners at the beginning of the last century [ 20th] worked naked. The temperature at that depth would be quite high.

With modern ventilation being installed during the mines lifetime the conditions would have improved to a certain extent.



The pit bottom at Silverwood as can be seen left was quite a large area that was well maintained and also had adequate lighting, note the safety rail on the left behind which the men are standing. It is from this point our fathers and Grandfathers would depart into the less spacious working areas of the mine.

The drivers of the underground trains that ran on the tracks shown left underwent special training, Dave Vicars ex loco driver has kindly provided us with an insight into being a loco driver at Silverwood here Dave Vicars

When they arrived at the pit bottom the men would board the train which would transport them part of the way to the coal face. This first train was hauled by rope, and has can be seen on the photo left it was capable of carrying a large number of miners. The reason for a rope hauled train was due to the gradients in that section of the roadway.

During the time following the 1966 paddy train disaster the safety rules and regulations were upgraded to ensure that such disasters would not happen again. A section of those rules can be viewed here.

The standard height of the roadways pictured left was six feet six inches

[ approx. two metres ], and the standard width of the roadway was ten feet

[ approx three metres ]
Tom Phillips informs me that "The three men sitting at the front I can identify the man on the left side as you look at the photo. His name is John Arthur and he came from Maltby, Sadly he passed away 2 yrs ago[ 2005], he was my brother-in -law.


Once the gradient evened out the men would disembark the rope hauled train and board a Hunslet diesel loco train which would take them within walking distance of the actual face.

Once on the face the miners would remain there until the end of the shift, the face being not only a working location but also was the lunch room and amenities.
For those of you wondering, there were no toilets or actual lunchroom available. Which is a thought to make you shudder, nonetheless these were the conditions miners worked under, and it is why they earned every penny in their pay packet.



Diagram of coal seams in July 1975

Does anyone recognize any of the men above? If you do please send their names in


Many thanks to Ralph Law and son John for their contribution above.




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