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



The Silverwood miner above is checking the leg powered supports used below ground, a far cry from the old timber supports used in earlier times.


In the 1970's Silverwood was employing1,500 men of which 1,150 worked underground. The mine with its modern machinery was producing 1 million tons of coal per annum. There were four fully mechanised coal faces .  Two shifts in any one day would see the coal cutting machine traverse a 250 yard coal seam five times, slicing the coal at 72" width giving a total of 320 tons produced. The coal was cut and loaded onto the conveyor in one operation.

As any miner will tell you there were three shifts a day at a coal mine, the men on the third shift would be responsible for maintaining equipment and also making sure everything was prepared for the following shift which would be the day shift the next morning.  With the advancement in machinery and work methods just 56 men were required per day to ensure the coal faces ran efficiently at this time..

The safety of the coal cutting machine operator was in the form of a line of six-leg powered supports, which form a protective canopy of steel, as the coal cutter advances this canopy was moved by a lever control.

One of the main dangers in the Swallow Wood seam was methane gas, the presence of this gas was eradicated by holes being bored and installing pipes to remove the gas up to the surface where it would be discharged into the atmosphere.




We have to remember that at this time the 1984 strike was not to far away and that despite the following facts Silverwood was to be listed as a non viable mine and pinpointed for closure.

Close to 5 million had been spent to develop the seams and a vast re-organisation of the whole mine. The coal preparation plant [ pictured left ] was improved to wash and grade the different types of coal. Walt Norburn was a one time foreman on the washer. The Barnsley seam produced steam-raising coal, and the Swallow Wood seam produced coking coal. The winders were electrified and skip winding was introduced. Further to this the coal board invested in a rapid-loading system for moving coking coal At  a cost of 1 m  the loading system would enable 1,000 tons to be loaded in on a train within 30 minutes. In effect coal extracted from the Swallow Wood seam faces which were approximately half a mile underground would reach the surface and be loaded and headed for the BSC coke ovens within four hours. This project was linked to the British Steel Corporation's Anchor project located at  Scunthorpe.

On top of the 6 m already invested a a further 2.5m was to be added in the development of an additional section of the of Swallow Wood seam.
As the equipment at the mines became more complicated with improved Technology, it became very important for men like John Lindley B.S.C. who was a Deputy Mechanical Engineer for many years at the mine to keep abreast of these advancements by constantly updating their own skills and knowledge, and also ensuring that the men who worked under them were also up to date in their knowledge.
In 1978 Alan Rothery was to become the Mech shift charge engineer until 1992.

Jeff Lovell was employed in this year as Safety Engineer and writes "During my 15 years at Silverwood we only had one fatality to a sub contactor who was transporting a powered support along a roadway, the powered support due to the limited clearance in the roadway fouled a roadway support.  Whilst he was freeing the support the haulage inadvertently started and his head was crushed between the powered support and the roadway support. The mans twin brother witnessed the accident and never went underground again.




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





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