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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Silverwood Comments

"Simply The Best"


A title bestowed on the miners of Silverwood by Peter Hardy M. P.

Foreword by John Doxey

A lot of comments have been spoken over the years regarding Silverwood Pit and its workforce, the tabloids of course were not slow in coming forward when it came to having a bash at the lads. Thankfully local politicians were often to be found defending their constituents, but whatever our views the facts always speak for themselves, and in the aftermath of the 1984 strike the facts did just that. Leaving us in no doubt that the British miners had been sold out by Mrs. Thatcher and her followers, defeated by lies, and deceit, a shameful episode in the history of England.

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Photo copyright Shane Phillips courtesy of Fionn Taylor

Silverwood 1994 Photo copyright Shane Philips courtesy of Fionn Taylor,

double left click on photo to see more of Shane Phillips work

Fred Kelly finishing his shift Rotherham Advertiser photo courtesy Nadia Kelly


1959 Fred W. E. Kelly [ pictured ]  addressing NUM meeting " I trust we shall all strive to make Silverwood better for our being there"

1994 Mr. John Healey (Wentworth): Extract from maiden speech 19 May 1997
The last pit in the constituency, at Silverwood, was closed in 1994 after breaking all production records for two years on the trot.  

Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper branded Silverwood miners near Thrybergh "the scum of the earth" during the 1984-/5 miners' strike. [ Apparently the printers went on strike and refused to print this slur ]

2005 Fred Spencer ex miner and police officer
My time at Silverwood, a time when I experienced comradeship that never existed in the Police, I made some good friends at Silverwood.


George Smith a Silverwood miner who worked there all his life perhaps summed up what a lot of people felt regarding working down a mine, his son Peter writes Whilst we remember Silverwood Colliery with fond nostalgia as it was a key part of the community; I quote my father when it closed.  He worked there all his life.
"The best thing that ever happened to Silverwood Colliery is when they closed it.  Human beings should not have to do that kind of work."


Jeff Lovell 2006 I could write a book on my experiences in the Coal mining industry but that is beyond the scope of this short article.
I would however like to say as a testament to all of the people I have worked with in my 35 years, one could not have worked with such hard working people who made the Coal Mining Industry such a proud industry.
The team spirit and particularly in an emergency cannot be bettered.



What Peter Hardy said in Parliament.  [ Extract ]


Hon. Members will be aware that I represent in this House the National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers, but I also represent Silverwood colliery. When I read the leaked Rothschild report and saw that Silverwood was not one of the 14 collieries that had been identified as likely to survive, I was astonished. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) knows, there is rivalry between Maltby colliery in his constituency and Silverwood in mine, but he and other hon. Members may also be aware that for a long time Silverwood has been one of this country's most profitable collieries. The explanation for its exclusion can only be that, when Rothschild examined the industry, Silverwood was not making very much money because it was investing in opening up new faces. Shortly after the leak of the Rothschild report, Silverwood again began to make a lot of money, because its investment had come to fruition.
Before Christmas, Silverwood colliery produced its millionth tonne of coal. It produced 1 million tonnes of coal once before--in the mid 1980s-- [Interruption.] That is not very many years ago. I am talking about what has happened while the Government have been in office. Just before the last election, Silverwood produced 1 million tonnes of coal with 1,500 men on its books. Last year it produced 1 million tonnes of coal again, but with 800 men on its books.
Silverwood colliery has recently smashed further records. The latest output per man shift figures are astonishing 53 tonnes of coal per man shift at the face, with the overall output per man shift at the colliery being almost 10 tonnes. Those figures should put British Coal firmly on the slate.
If the Government and the electricity industry recognized that coal from heavy duty faces can pour out to ensure that Britain remains self- sufficient in energy, thus avoiding the enormous balance of payments deficits that will apply if the contraction of the industry continues for much longer, they would congratulate rather than threaten Silverwood. Silverwood has not been included in the list of 14. That list of 14 has not been increased to a list of 15. I am not involved in the arrangements to protect Mr. Edward's, but if some of British Coal's board members are to be removed, I would suggest certain gentlemen other than Mr. Edward's, who has been committed to achieving a viable coal industry while some of his colleagues seem committed to the cause of privatisation whatever the future size of the industry, provided only that a few profitable pits remain and that they make a lot of money. I should prefer the national interest to be served. I have far more respect for people like Mr. Lawson, the manager at Silverwood, and for Granville Richardson, the union secretary at Silverwood, who rejoice in the success of their pit because they believe that they are serving not only themselves but their country.
That endeavour and success is not properly appreciated by British Coal, although it was appreciated at the pit. Although I share many of my constituents' aspirations, I do not share their taste in music. The colliery tannoy plays records, and on the day that it passed its millionth tonne of coal everyone at Silverwood colliery was singing a popular record that had been made by a lady called Tina Turner. I do not recognise the record myself--
Mr. Lofthouse : Sing it.
Mr. Hardy : I should not dream of singing it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Everybody at the colliery was singing Tina Turner's record, "Simply the Best", because they believed that they were the best. British Coal should have recognised that they were the best. It should not be left to a bunch of merchant bankers or a crowd of short-sighted politicians--
Mr. Ashton : Merchant what?
Mr. Hardy : Merchant bankers-- [Interruption.] I said "merchant bankers", Mr. Deputy Speaker, and "merchant bankers" was what I meant. The miners at Silverwood should not be left to sing "Simply the Best" alone, because we should all recognise that they have achieved coal production figures which are among the best in Europe


18th January 1994

"I should like to say much more about Silverwood. I find it far too distressing even to contemplate that men with such a proud record and splendid achievement should be treated as British Coal has treated them. The one thing that I regret about the leadership of British Coal is that they seem to have forgotten that they have been paid to lead their industry on behalf of the nation."



John Healey maiden speech in Parliament


19 May 1997 : Column 480
Opencast Coal Mining
10.24 pm
Mr. John Healey (Wentworth): I am grateful for this opportunity to raise the concerns of Wentworth constituents about opencast coal mining, and I am particularly grateful for the chance to combine this debate with my maiden speech.
It is a great honour to be elected to represent the people of Wentworth. It is a special privilege and responsibility as it brings together a unique mix of the political and pastoral duties of a Member of Parliament. I remember words from the book of Luke: "Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required".
I hope to serve in that spirit.
May I begin by paying a warm tribute to Peter Hardy? He had been a Member of this House since 1970, representing first Rother Valley, then Wentworth when the constituency was formed in 1983. "He is part of this area", an old newspaper editor once told me, "a very big part". He has been a dedicated local Member of Parliament and I am conscious that he is a hard act to follow--conscious that I can succeed him, but not replace him.
The Wentworth constituency comprises a string of communities. Many were pit-based and all still retain a strong local identity. The parishes of Bramley and Wickersley lie to the east, next door to Dalton, Thrybergh and Sunnyside, which surround the site of the old Silverwood colliery. Rawmarsh, Swinton, Brampton Bierlow and Wath-upon-Dearne are our other major towns. The whole constituency now lies within the Rotherham borough, but the north also remains a proud part of the Dearne valley, with strong links to Barnsley and the town's successful football team.
The constituency's history has been closely tied to mining, a dependence which has always been a mixed blessing. The first record of coal mining in the area is at Abdy, near Wath, in 1606. It is the first record of a mining death. Twenty years ago, the constituency still had six pits employing nearly 5,000 men. At Manvers, we also had British Coal's South Yorkshire headquarters, its regional science laboratories and the largest coking plant in Europe. The last pit in the constituency, at Silverwood, was closed in 1994 after breaking all production records for two years on the trot.
In a typically British touch, however, the constituency draws its name not from coal but from the home of an 18th century aristocrat. Wentworth Woodhouse and the village of Wentworth lie on the far western edge of the constituency and were home to the first Marquis of Rockingham. It was there that the Whigs plotted the downfall of the Government of their day, although defeat was never on the scale of 1 May 1997.
Wentworth is a constituency within a county that has suffered terribly under the Tories. Since 1985, 50,000 coal and steel jobs have been lost in South Yorkshire; one in three of our young people are neither working nor training; and unemployment is the highest in the whole of the Yorkshire and Humberside region. New jobs--where they exist--are part time, poorly paid and insecure.
Last month, a new European Union report showed that South Yorkshire is now bottom of the prosperity league in Britain. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister shares my concern about the county's future.
That is the legacy of the old Conservative Government and the challenge for the new Labour Government. The events of 1 May lifted spirits across the constituency and throughout the country.



Evening Standard


"The figures are heartbreaking. In 1947 there were 958 pits employing 718,000 people and producing 200 million tonnes of coal. There are now 19 deep-mine pits supporting around 10,500 jobs."



> Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) :


Some of us have seen profitable collieries such as Silverwood in my constituency doomed soon after the brilliant men of Hobart house approved millions of pounds of expenditure, which simply stopped before Christmas and before the coal face that was being developed could begin to turn coal.
We have had enough stupidity, we have had enough dogma and we have had enough malice. It is time that the Government reconsidered the matter and accepted the amendment--in the national interest.

Mr. Peter Hardy 1994 My hon. Friends will have heard my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) and me make relevant comments about the matter. British Coal intends to de-mothball Maltby but close Silverwood in my constituency. It will transfer men from Silverwood to Maltby, having got rid of most of the Maltby men first.

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the one thing that Hobart house should have been worried about was to keep Maltby going immediately after completing 190 million of capital investment ? The price that British Coal would have had to pay for taking Maltby into the core group it wants to set up might well have been rather higher than it wished to pay.








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