Clipstone Colliery

Date Visited: March 2009

New Clipstone is a mining village, just outside of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. The village was established at the same time as the colliery in the early 1920’s by the Bolsover Colliery Company.

By the Second World War, the seam being worked was becoming exhausted, which prompted development of deeper seams of up to 1000 yards (920 m) . The National Coal Board (NCB) took on programme of reconstruction and reorganisation upon nationalisation in 1947-48. The plan was for both underground and surface re-organisation. On the surface, works had started in earnest by 1953. The old steam winders, boilers, and fan, were scrapped; the winding houses, head frames, boiler house, fan house and heapstead buildings demolished. They were replaced by new heapsteads, headframes, a fan house, and a winder/power house located between the two shafts, with two electrically powered winders. The consultant architects for this scheme were Young and Purves of Manchester.

New buildings contained new machinery, and in the case of the winding system, a different form from that of established practice. By the late 1940s, it was common for collieries in the UK to use drum winding to raise and lower miners and materials in the shafts. However, the period after the war saw the coal industry investigating relatively new technology, some of which was already established in other countries. One system already adopted in Europe was that of 'Koepe' or friction winding. This uses a single loop of rope, or two or more ropes in parallel, and a powered pulley or 'Koepe' wheel to move things along, rather than the standard drum. The system is under balance, needing less power for operation, and was invented in Germany in 1877 by Frederick Koepe.

The heapsteads are two monolithic brick buildings, enclosing the areas beneath the headframes. The central winder house is a modernist brick and glass affair. A few of the original 1920s ancillary buildings remain on the site. But it is the sculptural qualities of the two magnificent headframes, which were the tallest in the UK when built, standing at approximately 65m high, which are the real landmarks. They can be seen for a few miles around, but the best view has to be looking eastwards along the straight of Mansfield Road, running through New Clipstone, and at the end of the vista, the two headframes rising up forming almost a gateway appearance.

Even though the colliery never recorded a loss it was closed in 1993 and mothballed. It was re-opened in 1994 by RJB Mining (now UK coal) but finally closed in April 2003. This was one of 31 mines named for closure by British Coal but was to be the first to restart production under licence arrangements a full year ahead of the privatisation of the NCB. Production re-commenced in 1994 with six to seven years of reserves. After nine years the colliery had produced nearly four million tonnes of coal, but the other reserves remaining were not viable based upon their quality, high sulphur content and cost of accessing them.
In 2003, a referendum in Clipstone was held and the villagers voted for demolition of the whole site. The Coal Authority has made a listed building consent application for demolition, and everything except the tallest all metal headstocks in the country and the winder house and other immediate buildings have been demolished including the baths and coal hoppers.

History abridged from