A big tick for me! This Colliery is a disused coal mine in the north of England. It was the first colliery in the UK to produce one million tons of saleable coal in a year. The colliery and pithead baths complex are on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register due to being in very bad condition and not in use. In 2019, due to the serious decay of the site, the colliery was named on the Victorian Society’s list of the top ten most endangered buildings in England and Wales.
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is an abandoned colliery near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. Coal has been mined in this area for a long time, with local tradition believing that monks from Hulton Abbey mined coal. Full coal mining started in earnest in 1863 when the Ragman Shaft was dug to a depth of 137 meters to work at the Ten Feet coal seam. In 1868, the colliery and a 214 acre estate around the site was purchased by the Whitfield Colliery Company Limited for a sum of £40,000. This company did not last long – the colliery was bought out in 1873 by a Mr Charles J. Homer of the Chatterley Iron Company Limited to supply a steady feed of coal to the oil distillery and blast furnaces his company operated. The new owners began developing more infrastructure to cope with more coal mining. In 1874 they began deepening the Bellringer Shaft to a depth of 400 meters and not too long after this, the Bellringer Shaft was renamed the Insitute Shaft. However, in 1881 there was a large pit disaster in which a blacksmith’s forge caused an explosion which killed twenty four men and boys. The colliery’s golden age began when Edward Brownfield Wain took over the company. Chatterley Whitfield became the first coal mine to produce over one million tones of saleable coal in the UK. However despite this boom in productivity, the colliery ceased production in 1977 and became a museum that operated until 1993 whereupon the museum and site was placed into the hands of liquidators. Since then, the site has lain derelict and gathering dust.
We arrived at the site on the way back from another explore. It was a big tick for me personally as the Victorian steam engines have seriously interested me. The access was easy as anything and I could not understand how I failed back in 2020!! But, we progressed. We spotted the large CCTV towers with infrared cameras, motion sensors and speakers. My friend Robin accessed the engine house where the steam engines were whilst the other two wandered around outside. They were confident that the CCTV cameras were not monitored… about ten minutes into mine and Robin’s photoshoot of the engine house, we heard a tannoy beep go off…
“Beeeep booooop… “THE TWO MALES ON SITE, LEAVE THE SITE IMMEDIATELY. THE POLICE HAVE BEEN CALLED.” Beeeeep boooooop”.
I rolled my eyes and started sniggering. It was quite the funny thing to listen to and to see the others scuttling away into bushes to hide. So, after a small amount of hiding and waiting to see if the rozzers did turn up, Robin and I continued our explore. The exit from the engine house was… a little clumsy on my part – I climbed over a railing to dangle myself onto the part we needed to use to get back down and misjudged how high it was… 7ft… not 5ft… I slipped, slammed my chest into a steel beam and winded myself, then accidentally released my grip on the railing and fell about a foot, and smacked my chin on the same steel beam that I’d smashed my chest on. I was a winded mess for a couple of minutes and then, when I stood up, I didn’t notice there was a small rod protruding out of the beam… I conked my cranium quite hard on that. So, head, chin and chest all hurting, I made my way towards the rest of the site. Whereupon I hit my head a further three times on low things. Bloody joyful! Unfortunately however, we could only explore the minecart circuit as the time was getting on by that point which was sad. However, enjoy the photographs!
Hesketh Engine House
Main Tub Circuit
Institute Shaft Winding House