Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

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History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

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By Geoff Illsley


I came across your web pages whilst looking some information on Silverwood Colliery. Five hours later I had to exit as my mind was full of so much additional information, images and, dare I say it, some corrections to the facts.
My credentials: I was born in Thrybergh in 1944 and lived there until 1965, when I married a Thrybergh lass and moved to Ravenfield. I worked for the National Coal Board for 18 years, but never at Silverwood. My family though have lived in Thrybergh since the early 1900’s.

Geoff Illsley



Henry and Sal IllsleyGrandfather Henry “Ben” Illsley was from South Derbyshire and was a miner all his working life. He moved north to Rotherham around 1885, when the pits began opening in South Yorkshire. Unfortunately I don’t know which pits he worked at in his earlier life in Rotherham but he was living at 44 Silver Street, Thrybergh with his wife Sarah Ann (Large) when my father Albert Henry Illsley was born there in 1909. He was also a miner at that time at Silverwood. Henry died in 1934 aged 73 and is buried in Thrybergh cemetery.
Thomas Large, my great grandfather also died at No 44 in December 1921. He was also a miner from South Derbyshire who moved to the Rotherham area about the same time as Henry.
Later Thomas Jones and May (Illsley) lived at No 44. Thomas was killed in a road accident in 1939. May and her family continued to live at No 44 until the early 1950’s.

The first photograph shows Henry “Ben” Illsley and his wife Sarah Ann (Large). Although neither was born in Thrybergh they had a long association in their later life with Thrybergh.
Henry was born in Swadlincote in 1860. His father Joseph (1837-1916) was a collier. It is no surprise that Henry is recorded in 1881as a coal miner at Newhall, Derbyshire. By 1884 he had moved to Rotherham and married Sarah Ann Large who was born in Albert Village, which is situated between Ashby de la Zouch and Swadlincote. Her father Thomas Large (1846-1921) was also a collier. Between 1884 and the early 1900’s Henry and Sarah Ann lived at Greasbro Road, 230 Doncaster Road and 27 Rawmarsh Road, Rotherham and Henry must have worked at a number of Rotherham pits.

Sarah Ann had given birth to six daughters before moving to Thrybergh. Albert Henry, the only son, was born in 1909 at 44 Silver Street, Thrybergh. Was it the Thrybergh air? Henry must have been one of the early recruits to Silverwood. He died in 1934 and is buried at Thrybergh cemetery.





"Pur us sum rag on ‘eer”


Albert Illsley

 Henry’s son Albert Henry Illsley. He left school at 14 in 1923 and was signed on at Silverwood as a West Pit worker. Although Albert Henry worked underground he soon became interested in first aid, taking his first examination in February 1926. On his certificate the Surgeon Instructor is Dr GH Sedgwick and the Surgeon Examiner Dr JJ Hily. He followed this with courses in 1927- 29, gaining his Medallion and Label in 1929.


He married Phyllis Maud Goodwin in 1935 in Leicester. They moved to Thrybergh and lived at 11 Park Vale Drive. Sarah Ann lived with them after the death of Henry in 1943. Albert Henry worked underground at Silverwood from 1923 until 1946.


An accident meant he had to take a pit top job, as an Ambulance Man At that time the ambulance room was on the pit side of the colliery by the rail tracks. The building looked like a disused colliery workshop. High ceilings, very poor lighting, bare brick wall. The only furniture was a desk lit by a small electric lamp, a chair and a small treatment cabinet in the middle of this large room. Not an ideal place to treat injuries. I remember this place as Albert Henry used to help train the Silverwood First Aid Team for its completions and individuals for their St John's Ambulance examinations. I acted as a patient on practice nights. The new Medical Centre was built behind the Baths. What luxury! Tiled surfaces, treatment rooms, recovery rooms with beds, showers and more equipment and dressings than ever before.


The photo above shows Albert Henry in his Medical Centre “uniform”, a familiar sight to thousands of Silverwood miners. The catchphrase of the miners when they came out of the baths and into the Medical Centre was “pur us sum rag on ‘eer”!


 During the War years he was a member of the local First Aid Party in Thrybergh. After the War between 1954 - 66 he continued attending a number of courses for his Medical Room Attendant Certificates concluding in 1971 with the Higher Certificate. In May 1969 he was made an Honorary Life Member of The St John Ambulance Association. Albert Henry retired in 1974 having worked 51 years at Silverwood. On his retirement letter signed by the Manager they spelt his name wrong!

He retired to Blackpool where he died in 1978. He is buried at Thrybergh cemetery.



© Geoff Illsley 2008



There is no doubt that many a miner would have been grateful to Albert Henry Illsley and his first aid skills, and if you have a memory of this man you would like to share please send it in


Many thanks Geoff from John






















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