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Coquet 26-03-2010 01:54 PM

Whittle Colliery Mining to resume?
Noticed on the front page of the Northumberland Gazette (25/3/2010) that a company called EuroMining Ltd are on site at Whittle Colliery.

Rumours of mining restarting are going around?

Apparently though they have been ordered by the council to remove the accommodation block that has appeared on the site.

Photo we took a few weeks ago:

Pete 15-04-2010 10:21 PM

I thought water pumping had ceased at Whittle some years ago?

Coquet 16-04-2010 11:58 AM

Worked there myself in the 80s but have not been keeping up to date with the recent history of the place.

I do know when it sold to the private mining company in the 1990s they went for the easy option - removed the coal pillar between the two arterial west drivage roadways (also main intake and return roadways) thus removing access to coal in the west, and collapsing several miles of tunnel as 'goaf'

The Drift I assume has been at least partly filled in - no trace on google maps of the entrance. A second means of egress & ventilation shaft existed a few hundred metres or so north of the drift, this also appears to have gone. A third ventilation shaft at a place called 'Overgrass' at a mile or so the other side of the A1 was sunk in the 80s - what has happened to that I dont know. (you could shout up and down this shaft between the bottom and the surface. I recall the booster fan at the bottom of this shaft - it was a monster (for Whittle) with a 500kw motor.

The Whittle workings were connected to Shillbottle Colliery workings underground too but I think Shillbottle shafts are filled in.

Not to mention the flooding, gas etc. problems facing anyone trying to reopen assumming some form of access still exists. Basically a near impossible task.

Coquet 16-04-2010 12:17 PM

Actually the only shaft I can think of that is 'open' in the district is Hauxley, which had a concrete cap fitted, or at least that was the situation with it in the early 90s. Although it will be in some state with 60 years of neglect. Again though once flooded virtually impossible to reopen I believe.

Funnily enough there are apparently massive reserves of coal off the coast at Amble and Hauxley; Ellington Colliery was going for these but Ellington now too is history. Ellington actually sucessfully passed through the main area of faulting, the Hauxley fault, and the igneous rock body the 'Causey Park Dyke' and its associated fault which were the main obstacles to this area- spending millions doing so in the 80s, then they abandoned the project due to the coal rank in the new area being too high for Alcan power station, their primary customer. There were rumors of going back north for the next 20 odd years but it never happened.

Coquet 16-04-2010 12:30 PM

Just been having another look at google maps, this is where the Whittle drift entrance was I believe:,0.005659

Bizarrely there is a 'black hole' here:

which would not be far from the other shaft entrance? Surely that's something that just 'looks like' a hole in the ground???? :eek:

Pete 16-04-2010 06:22 PM

That black hole looks like it may be standing water Mike.
Some of my pals went to work at Whittle when it was being privately run. They reckoned it was like stepping back in time 200 years after working at Ellington :D
It's a crime that we no longer have any deep mines, although 'elf n safety would probably close them anyway.

Coquet 10-12-2011 08:51 PM

On the subject of shafts and drifts into the Whittle / Shilbottle mine, I've just recalled that there was another drift somewhere to the left in the picture above. That was the original Whittle drift. The "modern" drift was 1/2 a mile straight ahead in the picture.

The old workings between the original drift and the modern drift were permanently flooded as a "standage" or water storage area for a large pumping station near the bottom of the modern drift.

Coquet 07-01-2012 07:52 PM

"Digging around" excuse the pun - there appears to be 9 recorded shafts or drifts, and probably more on the 54 acre site.

Or so says this (old?) Whittle Colliery sales piece: Knight Frank pdf

found some online pics of what I assume is the old drift?

curious, never seen those before.

On the old 1923 OS map there are shown two drifts in close proximity to each other.

Coquet 07-01-2012 07:59 PM

2.5 million tons of coal left allegedly, and the highest quality house coal too.

At today's conservative price of £17 for 50kg or £340 per ton then that's a cool £850 million pounds worth. (that's coal merchant selling prices.)

Not much chance of getting permission to mine again though. Preferred scheme for the site is log cabins or something!

phil 31-07-2012 05:24 PM

iam a exminer at whittle and ellington, i thought pumping was stopped long ago , at whittle i got told when it went private they robbed the easy coal between belt road and loco road . the accommateing block is still there. i worked at the mines with my 2 brothers.

Coquet 31-07-2012 08:15 PM

Hi Phil, welcome to the forum.

yes that's what they did, took the coal out between the Loco road and belt road.

I was looking at the sales pitch in the post above by 'Knight Frank', who was trying to market it with 2.5 million tons of coal left, and was wondering where that coal is supposed to be.

If I remember rightly they can only be talking about the lowest part, the 'Shilbottle side' as we called it, which was the 'future of the pit' (ha!), that is on from the faces Y31 and Y32, and another winning to the south of that. Although the whole pit is flooded even up the drift, so wishful thinking on their part.

Coquet 07-09-2012 06:30 PM

This sketch might be interesting to a few ex Whittlers. [Courtesy local mining historian Alan Jamieson]:

Low resolution base map; © Crown copyright and database rights. Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey.

Coquet 07-09-2012 06:33 PM

I can remember the shortening of Y66 coal face due to a fault. [note the dog-leg] Quite a job. The guys worked round the clock 7 days a week in the most atrocious conditions.

hollydog 08-09-2012 10:44 AM

Very interesting to see maps like this. I, for one, would like you to perhaps sometime produce an "idiots" guide to mining at Whittle as most people have no comprehension of what the mining at Shilbottle and Whittle entailed and how the coal was won.
That would keep you busy for a while!

Coquet 10-09-2012 12:56 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by hollydog (Post 971)
Very interesting to see maps like this. I, for one, would like you to perhaps sometime produce an "idiots" guide to mining at Whittle as most people have no comprehension of what the mining at Shilbottle and Whittle entailed and how the coal was won.
That would keep you busy for a while!

It would be quite a challenge, with my memory too!

I have a small number of cuttings relating to the final year of Whittle; this one from the Coal News July 1986. Y332 is Y32 on the plan above, Y333 would be the next face west, but the place was closed before work on that one was completed. There's some mining speak in there but you can get the general idea that the guys are doing the very best they can:

by Chris Crouch

NORTHUMBERLAND pitmen working by the old Great North Road have achieved an Al performance to drive a new face in record time — and help repay a multi-thousand-pound investment in their future.

A new mining system for 65-year-old Whittle drift enabled development men to complete a 275-metres drivage and equip Y332 in only 11 weeks — a job that would have taken twice as long in the past.
"Some people said it was an unrealistic target, but we achieved it a week ahead of schedule through tremendous team work," says manager George Heydon. "The men's attitude was a deciding factor — and we now need the same effort to get 333s ready by the end of the year." Face teams who work some of the thinnest seams in the country - — taking only 28 inches of coal — saw a down turn in production when one of their two faces ran into a further series of geological problems.
With the mine averaging 1,400 tonnes saleable a day, it became vital for Y332s face — planned as their first 2,000-tonnes-a-day unit — to be ready as soon as possible to improve output.
"We were running two shortened mechanised faces which were in trouble with both geology and water," says Mr Heydon. "It was imperative we develop a replacement face in three months because all the indications were that faulting would bring Y66s to an end around the end of May — and we've been very accurate in our forecast."


The new development technique involved advancing a completed AFC systematically with every metre driven. Both ends of the face were equipped with pan launchers which pushed the completed face conveyor on by one pan at a time.
"The old system, driving separately, would have taken 15 weeks for the same distance — then to equip the conveyor another two weeks," adds Mr Heydon.
Helping the pace-setting pitmen into the twin advancing headings were 23-feet-long Dosco MkIIA Roadheaders. In the maingate the 100-metre stage loader — carrying all services required for the face — was moved by UMM roll rammers, a new system for the region.
Capable of pushing 180 tonnes, the rammers first lift then move the loader forward, saving time and cutting out all the major operations of moving equipment.
In the tailgate, a hydraulic bunkering technique immediately behind the Dosco machine was planned instead of building a conventional bunker. It was backed by a crush-and-blow stower which put debris from the heading direct into the packs.
The new face, 5,000 metres from the drift top in the Third West district and supported by 267 Dowty 5 by 150 chocks, uses an Eickhoff in-web shearer with the latest 60mm picks which can go down to a 33-inch section, necessary for quality control.
"In the last 15 months we've had an intense programme of development and re-mechanisation," adds Mr Heydon.

phil 12-09-2012 06:55 PM

whittle workings
the map has moved down on whittle workings, overgrass is below all workings as overgrass is at the top y19 . not all workings were y some were a, i as a pipeman worked at a4 bore hole from loco to belt road, there was a bore hole that went from swarland spring wood down to the top of y58.

Coquet 12-09-2012 08:01 PM


Originally Posted by phil (Post 998)
the map has moved down on whittle workings, overgrass is below all workings as overgrass is at the top y19 . not all workings were y some were a, i as a pipeman worked at a4 bore hole from loco to belt road, there was a bore hole that went from swarland spring wood down to the top of y58.

I noticed it was wrong too, didn't think anyone else would!

I think it needs rotated anti-clockwise until y19 lines up with the Overgrass shafts as you say. this would bring the shaft that's a few hundred yards from the drift into the correct position (as it is, the shaft is up the hill in an old quarry)

Coquet 12-09-2012 08:08 PM

This is the Overgrass building I believe:

Coquet 12-09-2012 08:18 PM

red dots have to come together?

is that the right gateway the shaft holed into Phil?

Coquet 12-09-2012 08:23 PM

Can you remember the fan at the bottom of that shaft? 500kw - noise? you've not heard anything like it. Nearly made your false teeth fall out.

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