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Thorne Colliery

 

 

Thorne Moorends, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

 

 

Background



Thorne Colliery is situated at the edge of Thorne Moor, on the northern outskirts of Thorne town, and lies 16km north east of Doncaster.

The colliery was established in the early 1930's and worked until 1956 when production was halted and the workforce transferred to neighbouring collieries.
There had been a history of strained labour relations at the colliery, which was cited as adversely affecting productivity and profitability.
There was also the problem of the increasing rate of water ingress in No. 2 Shaft which, by the time production was halted, had become intolerable. At the same time, part of the shaft wall collapsed and revealed a very significant cavity which made the shaft virtually unusable.
Over a period of years, a temporary and then a permanent repair was made to the shaft, but this caused a reduction in the shaft's diameter.

Several times, British coal considered plans for reopening Thorne, with plans for a third shaft once being proposed as a means of bringing coal to the surface. None of these plans came to fruition however, as coal prices tumbled in the 80's and a more modest plan for restoring the colliery was adopted.

At this point I should add that plans for the multi-million tonne capacity shaft were well developed and for a time the shaft was in the process of extraction and work had commenced .

The massive potential for Thorne’s development was kept alive by Harold E Taylor the former NCB South Yorkshire Area Director, throughout the 1980s. His 1985/86 report is boasting of Thorne’s £2.9 million development programme that year. As coalfield strikes still raged round the Area his faith in the future for the coalfield was diminished and he was to bitterly pull the plug on the massive third shaft development which had begun and was progressing a pace.

In the early '80s the two existing shafts were equipped with new headgear and winding systems. The surface was cleared of the older buildings and the pit bottom insets and circuits were repaired. It was at this stage that, due to the falling demand for coal, BC decided not spend any further money on Thorne Colliery.

The mine has been contained on a care and maintenance basis since that time and RJB Mining acquired the colliery at privatisation.

 

Thorne Colliery's Futuristic Headgear

Thorne headgear, 1980's style

Thorne Banner

Thorne Banner

Click to see full image

The Thorne banner was lost for years after closure, then remarkably it turned up in mint condition still in its box, hidden for years under the stage at Thorne Miners Welfare. As far as we can tell this is the original banner. It is most uncharacteristic for the region, being without the ornate scrolls and fancy letter work and without heroes or dramatic scenes. It is more in common with some plain pragmatic Scottish and Kent Area banners. Perhaps given the influence of the Communist Party in those areas and a similar flavour at Thorne this is a 'no -nonsense' approach to banner design, such is entirely speculation however. What makes this banner stand out is its colossal size. The only way we could find to display it at Thorne rallies during 84 was to suspend it from the roof of a recreational building and let its width hang down the entire side of the building.

Communist Branch officials were rare in Yorkshire still rarer were Communist Local Council officials. Thorne had had both in the guise of Sam Cairns and Bill Carr, legends in the 30's miners movement and right through the 1950's and into the 60's.

Most famous of Thorne's Branch Officials was however Alwyn Machin who went on to briefly serve as Area president only to die suddenly in office. Alwyn had been originally a Derbyshire miner as had we believe his father before him. His Lad Frank after serving for a time on the Area Executive Committee won a scholarship to Ruskin and then went on to Oxford university quite an achievement for a pit lad in those days. Frank was to write a History Of The Yorkshire Miners, particularly dealing with the Unions early years and struggles for justice.

 

Frank Machin - History of the Yorkshire Miner

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The Present
The Present Position

The present position of Thorne Colliery remains the same as it has since the restoration work of the 80's
Reserves and Resources

The High Hazel seam at a maximum depth of 900m has been worked extensively within a 3 km radius of the shaft. Access has been made into the Barnsley seam, 60m below.

The High Hazel seam has an estimated 38 Mt of resources and the Barnsley seam an estimated 37 Mt

 

Thorne High Hazel Workings and Reserves

Click to see full image ( 107K )

 

This illustration, taken from the International Mining Consultants Ltd report for the DTI clearly show massive reserves, but this of itself is an underestimation. It appears the company was only asked to disclose reserves accessible from existing colliery limits. The Thorne reserve shows the colliery boundaries, however the actual geological reserves go on without limit to the coast. The Hatfield take has been limited at its boundaries to the former Askern Colliery reserve and although these have not been proved it is clear they have the potential of massively extending the range and life of Hatfield beyond already sizeable known reserves. Taken together, Hatfield and Thorne in many ways complimentary, could prove a long life complex far into the future. It is far from idle speculation to predict such a complex as the last mines in Britain.

Thorne Barnsley Workings and Reserves

Click to see full image ( 76K )

 

Into the Future...

 



Future Prospects.

RJB Mining has retained Thorne on the basis that it could be developed into an operating mine when market conditions and economics allow.

The company believes that a saleable output of 1.2 Mt/a can be profitably achieved.

No estimates have been provided by RJB Mining for reopening the mine.

 

Update - April 2002

UK Coal, (previously known as RJB Mining) announced plans to seal the shafts at Thorne. This led to huge outcry among people who believed Thorne Colliery should be reopened, or at least maintained.

 

 

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