Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver




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The Shaft is Sunk

Dalton Mining Co

Early Years

1913 Accident







Early Trains

The 1920's

War Memorial of 1923


Travelling to work

Coke Ovens


1947 Accident


The Blacking Mill

1966 Disaster

The Silverwood Disaster song


Mine improvements 1970

Journey to the Face


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


Facts, Stories and Features

Interesting facts

Legends from the Mine

Tales from the Mine

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This very early depiction of Silverwood is quite revealing, the tip is nowhere in sight, to the right looks like the brickworks constructed to produce the bricks for the colliery buildings. Woodlaithes can clearly be seen top centre. Hollings Lane in the foreground is still a dirt track.



The coal that lays below South Yorkshire started to form over 280 million years ago in the Carboniferous period. The very same rich coal  seams stretch from Scotland, Northumberland, Lancashire into North Wales and around the Staffordshire area. Most of the southern counties do not have large coal seams below.

Ireland has a tremendous coal seam beneath its green grass.

Wales has a somewhat smaller size seam in the south toward Bristol.

Which explains why we in South Yorkshire had so many coal mines and the southern counties didn't.

Silverwood then was yet just one more mine, in an area surrounded by mines, a mine to beSilverwood Plate photo linked with the older Roundwood Colliery a couple of miles away.

Situated between the Villages of Thrybergh and Ravenfield on Hollings Lane, Silverwood Colliery was sunk by the Dalton Mining Company between April 1900 and December 1903, There were two shafts both sunk to the south of Hollings Lane by the Dalton Main Colliery Company at Silverwood . These shafts entered the Barnsley Seam at a depth of 750 yds.

Transactions: Volume 34
Institution of Mining Engineers (Great Britain), Martin Walton Brown, Percy Strzelecki 1908
DALTON MAIN COLLIERIES, LIMITED : SILVERWOOD PIT. The shafts, 21 feet in diameter, were commenced in April, 1900, and reached the Barnsley seam at a depth of 2238 feet in December, 1903. A considerable quantity of water was met

To ensure vertical rise plumb bobs were used for the entire depth of the shaft, metal tube was used to suspend the plumb bobs which enabled the sinkers to measure from and ensure a constant diameter.

The walls of the shaft were constructed as the shaft was sunk, these walls made of brick or stone were thicker at the top of the shaft than the bottom section.

There was eventually a link to the Roundwood Colliery underground and it is thought that this link was started from Roundwood prior to the shafts at Silverwood being sunk .

The Barnsley seam provided most of the output at Silverwood until the Melton field was developed in 1952 .

The area of the mine including the tip was  128 hectares or 311 acres. The tip itself was to eventually cover 93 hectares of the Silverwood site.
The buildings at Silverwood which became a familiar sight to us all  were actually constructed with bricks from a local brickworks on the Silverwood site, the brickworks itself  being constructed for that purpose. The brickworks were eventually covered by the ever expanding tip. The clay was also thought to be gained from  local quarries, which may have been the quarries off Oldgate Lane. 

The Ravenfield Stream was diverted with the use of two 900mm pipes so that the construction of the Mine would not interfere with the flow.

One of the most important features which would ensure transportation of materials to and from the mine was the railway line, and this was constructed during this early  period. In 1907 What was named Spring Cottage at nearby Ravenfield was demolished so that the new railway line from Silverwood to Haxey and to Dinnington  with connections at Bawtry could run through the Village. A second line was run down through Thrybergh and out toward Kilnhurst.

A system known as the Pillar and Stall system was implemented in the mine, this system consisted of stalls which were inserted in the roadways and galleries, these were then supported by timber pillars. The size of the pillars depended on several factors including the structure of the coal, and surface structures above.

Two main roadways would be cut which would be connected by cross cuts as a means of ventilation, this system enabled coal to be removed by two operations


Electrical Times - Page 833 1902
... Ltd., for the I outstation at Mexborough, where ill form the feeder for a new 66 kv station being erected at Silverwood

In the sinking of shafts and the cutting of roadways only men with experience were employed, the same rule applied in any work on the pillars as in their removal.

It was in October 1905 that the first coal emerged from the East Pit, thus began the legend of Silverwood  a record breaking Mine.
During its early days the mine was to earn a macabre nickname of "The Merry Widow Maker" due to the amount of deaths within the Mine.

One of the most frightening aspects for miners was the collapse of a roof and the actual floor rising. This was caused by weak floors and roofs reacting to pressure and the collapse of pillars.

Between 1899-1904 there was a  report and valuation on mineral estate and agreements re collieries with Denaby Main, and Dalton Main.
With the building of Silverwood large housing estates were also built to cater for the flow of miners into the area in Thrybergh, Bramley, Dalton, Wickersley, the garden village of Sunnyside, and Ravenfield Common. Bricks from the colliery brickyard were used.
Dalton Mining was part owner of these estates some of which were built by the Industrial Housing Association.
In 1901 listed as living in Thrybergh with his family was James Ball a Pit Sinker, age 35  born in Bristol  Gloucester. James had children born at nearby Hoyland and Barnsley, so we can presume  that James had previously worked at Mines in that area. It is also reasonable to presume that James was playing an important role in the sinking of Silverwood.

At the age of 15 James was an apprentice painter living in Bristol.

 John Henry Mcgann came to the area specifically as a shaft sinker to work on the Silverwood site. On completion he signed on as a Stoneman and lived at the end house of Osberton Street /Saville Street. He was sacked in around 1926 which was the year of the strike.
John Haddrill age 29 in 1901 who was born in Chipphan Wiltshire was living at  Thrybergh listed as a Colliery Sinker.

A young Alfred Wyett started work in 1900 at Silverwood as a Pit Pony Boy. His younger brother William aged 13 was also listed in 1901 as a Miner Pony Driver but it is not certain which mine William worked at. Both boys were living in Rotherham in 1901. In the year 1904 Alfred left the mine and enlisted in the York And Lancs. Regiment.


Amongst the first miners at Silverwood was one George Willey around 1901, his descendant Fred Willey an Overman locked up the mine in 1994.


William Woolford who was born in Highworth Wiltshire was listed in 1901 as a General Labourer, he moved into Thrybergh with his family including  Levi and Ernest Woolford also listed as General Labourers.  The family had moved to Thrybergh from Gresley Derbyshire between 1900 and the time of the census in 1901. William was an experienced Pit Sinker and it is believed the three men above were involved in the sinking of Silverwood.  [  Woolford One name Study  ]


In 1904 George Thomas Mason  born in 1878 at Wednesbury Staffordshire moved into 6 Norwood Street, Dalton Brook with his wife Margaret Ellen . It is not known at this moment if George started at Silverwood in this year, but moving into Dalton Brook tells us that if not then he worked at Roundwood before moving to Silverwood as a Hewer. Georges family were not coal miners but his wife's father was a Welsh coal miner.

James Browne  arrived at Silverwood from Wigan Lancashire, like my father he was born in Ince Lancashire, a little suburb near Wigan dived into Lower Ince and Higher Ince. In 1901 James can be found listed as a Colliery Labourer at Wigan age 22. Arriving prior to 1906 James was involved in the sinking of the mine.


A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Page 231
by Henry Patrick White, David St. John Thomas - 1963
The H 8c B South Yorkshire Extension Lines Act of 1902 authorised a route from Hickleton ... 8c Dalton Railway in order to reach Silverwood Colliery. ...


As the mine expanded so did the workforce, and the men came from far and wide to work at this new mine. One man arriving from as far away as Australia, another from America, from neighbouring counties in the British Isles, many of them already experienced miners, some came from university, others from local steelworks, the list is endless. Amongst the early arrivals to work at Silverwood were youngsters from the Padcroft Boys Home Yiewsley Middlesex. The home closed in 1949 after 47 years of taking care of young offenders, many of whom  found success in various occupations.


A large number of miners left Silverwood to work in other mines, only to return within a short period of time, many youngsters age 14 left School worked on the pit surface for awhile and then signed on to work underground.Fred Foster and Grandson Graham photo courtesy of Colin Fell
 Fred Foster [ pictured right ]the man who created Fosters Store on Whinney Hill was amongst those who worked at Silverwood back then. Fred worked there until 1919 and then ventured into business.

In 1908 the mine was listed as Silverwood,  Manager Jas. Elce Under-manager D. Tuke with 2,532 men underground and 576 men on the surface. Owned by Dalton Main Collieries Ltd., Parkgate, Rotherham who also owned Roundwood Parkgate listed at the same time  Manager W H Ball Under-manager AH Vernon with 915 men underground and 219 men on the surface.


The Railway news ...: Volume 89
The increased profit of 1358 received from the Great Central and Midland is due to the working of the Dalton Main Colliery Branch, which was not included in the corresponding period.


The wage in 1909 for a Coal Hewer was 45 shillings a week, which was quite a decent wage for the time. If you can imagine the pathetic conditions many of these Miners and their families lived in prior to coming to work for Dalton Main Collieries Company, you can understand why they traveled from far and wide to work for the Dalton Main Co, as there was also a chance of living in a new home. Many of them would have lived in shared rooms, or even worse conditions prior to arriving in the Thrybergh, and Dalton area.

During these early years the Silverwood Colliery football club was formed, the club was to produce quite a few legends in its history, including one player who played for England.


There were many tragic accidents at Silverwood, including quite a few roof falls which  were  typical tragic events that occurred in many mines which not only inflicted painful suffering for the miners families, but in the case of a roof fall where bodies were not recovered it also deprived the families of giving their husbands and sons a decent burial.

So the grieving widow and family were left to attend a funeral lacking the presence of the deceased, the widows sometimes had a grave constructed,  an empty grave to pay their respects. This is how the mine earned its black humorous nick name " The Merry Widow Maker" I say black humorous because the Widows were far from " Merry"


In 1901 Charles Power age 55 a foreman working on the sinking of the shaft was killed when a horse drawn wagon ran over him causing intensive injuries to his legs. On the 16th of June during the same year 1901 Mr C. Sims age 60 a Labourer met with a similar fate when he too was hit by a moving wagon.
In the following year on the 17th September Mr W. Cook age 22 a pump attendant was killed whilst carring out his work in the shaft. He was working on a pump located in the shaft when the accident occurred, it was stated that Mr Cook was provided with a safety belt and failed to secure it,he fell some 240 yards to the bottom of the shaft and it is not known if he fell from the platform or a rising bowk, what is known is that the bowk made contact with the platform.



The are three early accidents recorded found so far concerning a Mr Gascoigne, Mr Cartwright, and Mr Jennings so hopefully I will eventually be able to get some details.

The Mines around this time were insured with  Yorkshire Coal Owners' Mutual Indemnity Co. Ltd. for compensation cases.


J. Merrills was killed at Silverwood Colliery on the 4th January,1909 aged 52 years. <More>


This was mining in its worse scenario and from these accidents many heroes were to emerge men like Bill Hill who was a Loco Driver on the pit top pre 1947, received a First aid medal for saving A. Gibbs life on the 1st Jan 1909. There were quite a few of the Hill family who became employed at the Mine.

 It took just five years of coal production for Silverwood to become the biggest mine in the Yorkshire area.  In 1910 the mine employed, 2,593 men working underground and 635 on the surface  It was also considered to be the largest mine working on just one single seam throughout Great Britain. The legend had established itself.
Amongst the new employees at the mine in 1910 were Jno Wain from  Staffordshire age 23 living at 44 Savile St Dalton signed on as a pit bottom worker.  J. R. Shaw also of  Staffordshire age 28 signed on as a Filler. William Moore age 14 living at 24 Saville St. Dalton signed on to work in the West Pit bottom.  James Laughlin age 24 of 27 Norwood St Dalton signed on as a Collier.  Fred Gill age 27 living at 55 Kelvin St. signed on as a Filler he had previously worked at Orgreave.  Sam Swancott of West Bromich age 32 living at 5 Osberton St. signed on as a Filler


Tragedy struck yet again when in1911Edward Wilson of Thrybergh became a Stoneblower fatality on the 23rd  of December of that year.
On the 5th of October 1912 John Culkin age 29 who was a lodger at number 13 Doncaster Road Dalton who worked as a Filler at Silverwood was added to the many fatalities. He was killed when 12 tons of stone fell on him at the mine. According to a Rotherham Advertiser report the coroner Mr J. Kenyon Parker held an inquiry at the Grapes Hotel Dalton <More>

By 1912 the Silverwood mine was listed as having 3, 467 men underground and 828 on the surface a total of 4, 295 men employed. The output of coal  was 27, 000 tons by the end of that year, and the patent coke oven produced 2,000 tons. Other by products at the time produced at the mines were sulphate of ammonia, tar and pitch, various oils, and ammonium chloride.

William Drabble was an early pit top worker at Silverwood as an engine driver, he lived at Thrybergh for 84 years.





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