Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

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Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

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A presentation by Michael Knight

Plan of Silverwood coke plant


Silverwood Coking PlantI don't know if you will remember but prior to nationalisation Silverwood ( actually Dalton Main Colliery ) was owned by John Brown along with Aldwarke and Rotherham Main ( at Canklow ). The profits from the sale of coal were not that good, the market was not as big as it could have been, but there was a demand for coke particularly in the thirties. So J. B. built coke ovens at Silverwood and Canklow to increase his profitability.

It was said that the sale of the coke paid for the low priced washed slack and the cost of running the plant, the sale of the by-products and gas were profit. The gas produced in the ovens could not be put into the mains as it was loaded with chemicals not required in the gas.
These included tar, naphthalene, benzole and ammonia.
The tar was either distilled on site ( as at Silverwood ) or sold as crude tar to such as Yorkshire Tar Distillers ( Y T D ) at Swinton. The distillation of the tar produced light creosote oil, heavy creosote oil, anthracene oil, a wash oil rich in tar acids e.g. carbolic, and pitch.
The benzole was taken by road tanker to the refinery at Manvers where it was distilled into carbon disulphate, pure benzene, pure toluene and the xylene's.
Naphthalene was usually just sold on.
Ammonia was a bit of a bugbear, there was not much demand for it and it could not be poured down the drain, so it was made into ammonium sulphate useful as a fertiliser. The snag was it took a tonne of sulphuric acid to make a tonne of ammonium sulphate, not very cost effective but it got rid of the ammonia.
As iron and steel production got more efficient the coke usage went down quite considerably from a tonne of coke per tonne of steel produced, to now somewhere in the region of a third of a tonne of coke per tonne of steel. So now the coke ovens owned by the steel works produced more than sufficient coke for their own demands and they were able to sell some as smokeless fuel for home consumption. Part of the reason that as the coke ovens at Silverwood then Canklow then Smithywood ( at Thorpe Hesley ) and finally Manvers ( at Wath upon Dearne ) were not rebuilt when they wore out and were lost along with the by-product plants.
 The above is by no means comprehensive as I have read books that were needed to explain fully what I have tried to convey in a few paragraphs.

Michael Knight.


Footnote by John.

In September 1924 Specification and estimate for a Coking Plant at Rotherham for Messrs. John Brown & Co. Ltd., scheme 3
There were five agreements between John Brown & Co. Ltd., and the County Borough of Rotherham for the supply of Crude Coke Oven Gas from Rotherham Main Coking Plant.

 On the 4th February 1935 there was an Agreement for the supply and taking of Coke-oven gas from the Silverwood Colliery Coke Ovens of the Dalton Main Collieries Ltd. by the SYGG Co. Ltd.

The coke plant owners of South Yorkshire were members of the South Yorkshire Coking Plant Owners Association.


Smokeless Air: The Smoke Abatement Journal - Page 138
by National Society for Clean Air - 1939
Owing to the depressed state of the coke industry, the Silverwood coke ovens which supplied the Board with 3-1 million cubic feet of gas a day have been closed


Thomas Willert, worked in the Coke Oven Plant.

Jack Sansome started work at Silverwood on the pit top working on the coke ovens in 1940

Robert Pepper  worked at the plant prior to 1960



Many thanks Michael for the above article.

 I must confess that as I build this site I learn more and more about the varied complexities and technology involved in the production of the fuel we know as Coal and its by products like Coke. So when I thank people like Michael on the sites for providing insights like the article above, I thank them with a grateful sincerity for the knowledge gained.





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