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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Author Bruce Wilson

 "When I used to work with old miners down "pit  I would listen intently and even prompt them for more".

From the diary of Bruce Wilson the following tales are recollections of the authors time at Silverwood, the tales are a mixture of personal events and stories related to Bruce. In with the tales are some first hand descriptions of the mine workings, and a fascinating glimpse into the history of Silverwood. So read on, explore the mine and meet some of the miners.


Please note that the tales from the mine pages are linked at the foot of each page.




" I was well prepared for it the environment was different, but to me the men were the same .I came across the older end, whom you respected, good old fashioned, down to earth, stand no nonsense men, do your job, have a laugh, you couldn't put a price on those times".


All the elder men had been in coal all their lives, their sons were there as well, one of my first jobs was tramming supplies up S9,s loader gate, Ted Holton was the official, (9,s face swallow wood seam ) I used to load supplies on a skelly, ( a flat mine car/ tub) girders, steel sheets, throw a rope over my shoulder and pull it several hundred yards up to the loadergate rip. (where the roadway ended and the rippers were setting roof supports etc.).


There was Jack the pit Bottom fitter, as straight as a die, must have been getting on in years then, on leave in the war, he was called back up, in the last bayonet charge in the war (in the desert) came back down the pit.

During my first few years, I worked along side a lot of the old school George  being one of them, he was Pit bottom loco guard, he told me the story of how he was the paddy mail guard on that fatal trip in 1966. He knew summat, was up and bailed out, and jumped over the Braithwell air range ( I saw the spot) years later when checking the egress with the deputy in 1979, when the old mail plain was opened up, and a drift was started, several yds inbye. you could walk to the Stoppings, just behind them was the passbye were many men met their end.


My deputy down Braithwell 2 development in 1979 that mans name was PAUL ROACH. Nuns fetched him up in Torquay, a club turn he was. Even down the pit he was always singing, he would say OK for sound son, you knew which generation he came from. ( Marx bros? ) He was a p.o.w.  japs got him owd he told me, because he was a miner they put him in the Jap mines, their coal was rubbish he told me, horrible Brown stuff, I don't know which Island he was on, Again he told me, one day a Jap guard came to the fence, a British Soldiers Buttons were always highly polished, Paul told me , having a couple in his pocket, he swapped them for a couple of cigs with the guard, Paul, told me he kept out of that guards way after that. At this time in 1979, Paul was nights regular, everybody knew him.


Did I tell you the one about Ginner, John ,it was told to me as a Pit joke, but as they say many a true word is told in jest. I was told it by an old miner at Silverwood years ago, I do think its true. In the old Barnsley seam the old hands told me you could hear Maltby men working close by, so the Silverwood men would shut the face down for safety etc, and move on. One day they broke into some old Maltby workings, they said it was as if time stood still, the elements couldn't get down here, mine tubs ,upside down, stuck in the roof, pit props snapped in two like matchwood, the Silverwood men knew what they'd come across, the disaster of 1912 or 1933 ?

They started to immediately seal this tomb off straight away, but as they did, they found a scalp, of Ginger hair, it was put in a snap bag, and duly given to the manager, who took it to the Maltby manager, as the Silverwood manager told the Maltby manager what he had.  Maltby got a list of missing men , never recovered  in the explosion, the Maltby man exclaimed its Ginner, the only man with Ginger hair not found. I was told this in deadly earnest. by an old miner. 


An old mate of mine George Coult, died a few years ago I would like you to hear some of the stories he would tell me he was my Loco Guard  1979-1982,one of the old school, he retired in 82, After a lifetime in mining. its all he knew, working at Skier Springs, Barley hall, Bradgate, Grange, all the old pits before nationalization, working in mines that shallow you could hear trains above you, The day they ran like rabbits, "floor lift" the floor rises or the face roof comes down to meet the floor and you cant do a thing about it, a truly terrifying experience.

A man called Johnny Lynch trained me up on the locos in 1979, he told me his Grandad was one of the shaft sinkers at Silverwood, Johnny was a lovely man, very nice natured, again one of the old school, bet he knew your dad. His son Paul, used to repair cars etc, in the home coals garage in the pit car park. a good lad, in the strike, the police took his authorisation to M.O.T. cars off him, he looked after us, the powers that be didn't like that, recently owd Paul bought the Grapes Hotel, flattened it .now its a car sales pitch, garage.


I used to go round the old gates ,roadways with the deputy, I know one of the reasons they called Silverwood  The Widows pit we used to go into old workings exploring.  We went in the old Barnsley seam (workings) it was a time warp as if time stood still, pony droppings, touch them they'd turn to dust. Motty,s hanging on old tubs. then you'd look down the face and into the GOB, you could see with your lamp for tens of yards, (the  Gob. as the coalface  moved forward leaving a void behind where there was once was coal ) The problem was , the roof was rock, and as the face advanced the empty void got bigger, when old miners would say I like wood (props) it talks, to you, what they meant was that when the weight came on those wooden props "didn't it let you know" a sign to run. The Barnsley seam at Silverwood was renowned for the roof that never came in, but when it did!!!



The picture above is a drawing I did in 1982, in one of my tours of the old workings checking old districts, workings etc. it was the duty of officials to do this, mainly on a Sunday night, checking for gas etc. where I did the drawing was one of the few places down Silverwood were you would encounter Black Damp, a mine gas, deadly as well.
I was with Johnny Long (Deputy he was a light house keeper at one time but went back down the pit) the deputy would chalk his initials and date, on an old steel girder, or wall etc to prove he'd been there.
The old dudley water can on the left. stoppings in front. old workings sealed off. the old wooden pit props snapped like matchsticks, the old wrapping wires, (signal wires ) fixed on the old props. if you touched the wires together with a piece of metal you'd make a circuit and hundreds of yards away someone would hear a bell ring, a signalling system used down the pit, probably to this day.

 I drew this picture when I got home, it was near the pit bottom, Swallow wood side, maybe 100 yds. from the diesel garage ( loco garage ) about 300yds from the pit bottom. If it isn't flooded, or even if it is the place is still there to this day a Time warp, where time stands still, the elements and nature cant reach it, I could be wrong I've put 1912, I'll bet those workings were older !!!!!!

Copyright Bruce Wilson



Tales from the Mine Page 1 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 2 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 3 Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 3a Bruce Wilson

Tales from the Mine Page 4 Fred Spencer

Tales from the Mine Page 5 John Doxey

Tales from the Mine Page 7 Geoff Walker



Many thanks to Bruce Wilson for his contributions to this site

Bruce Wilson

Other pages and stories by Bruce


Mining Terms

The Miners Return

Underground pre 1994

Silverwood Ghost





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