New Hucknall Colliery

Building a Mining Community

Following initial need of quickly providing affordable family housing in which to suitably accomodate a vast influx of miners, the New Hucknall Colliery Company also faced task of providing their rapidly expanding community with various recreational amenities. Responsibility seems to fall upon Mr. Simeon Watson, the pit manager, often named as purchasing land on behalf the colliery. Amid the Newcastle Street terraced housing, space allowed New Street access, plus a cornering, centrally situated Miners Welfare Institute.

Huthwaite Miners Institue Huthwaite was certainly never short of licenced public houses. All continued welcoming regular custom often given by thirsty miners. Some could argue most pit owners realised opportunity for retaking their workers hard earned wages. Nevertheless, likewise found in other successful pit areas, the club atmosphere went beyond beer sales.

Familiarity between all such Institutes found capacity to broadly cater various forms of popular entertainment.   This New Hucknall Colliery Institute is descriptively reported opening on February 3rd, 1893, with well equipped library, reading room, billiard room, pavilion, and quoit ground and all necessary conveniences. Another report discloses the Company Chairman, Mr Emerson Bainbridge officiated before cautioning the pleased audience about their concerns regarding the tumbling coal prices in a falling market.   Fair warning given, of not seeing improved pay.

The colliery management team felt some need for registering as a new company in 1900, having already financed the sinking of Bentinck Colliery from profits gained here.   Pit wages remained relatively low, and it could again be surmised the provision of Institute amenities formed a constant reminder for appeasing the workforce.   The building was enlarged somewhat in 1912.   Its large dance hall proving popular long after becoming commandeered through the Great War for billeting and drilling fresh army recruits.   Although stretching beyond living memory, when thereafter again regularly hosting musical dance hall entertainment, these retained well recognised addressing, commonly reported to be held in the Huthwaite Drill Hall.

Colliers readily enlisted for active service, our village war memorial bearing testament to the numbers who never returned. 1925 Wages1930 Wages Huge incentive was thus afforded by the war effort to retain or entice more coal miners. A 1925 pay slip shows six days labour is well rewarded still by an additional War Wage.   Many other local working class men could have considered this a very decent income. When the bonus was again removed, there's little difference shown by a 1930 slip, if knowing £7 15s actually totalled three mens wages. Giving these amounts some perspective, their pit manager had been initially awarded a princely salary of £152 around 50 years beforehand.

Noted are company deductions, largely pay back for rented housing. A small club fee reminds to make privileged use of subsidised social amenities given for their pleasure. If not a win win situation, these company ventures certainly barely lost. But sharing self interest, they could afford concern for their skilled workers. Insurance deductions and reported claims prove inherent dangers associated with underground work, or indeed heavy pit top machinery were much too frequently apparent. Their wages never reflecting the dangers regularly faced. One strike made through united pit strength gained some reward by improving underground safety. All New Hucknall Colliery Company Ltd. employees were eventually issued from March 1919, with electric torch cap lamps. It led an industry standard, only fully adopted by other pits into 1932. The limited company had before then, also successfully acquired Annesley and Welbeck collieries.

The New Hucknall Company did promote Huthwaite's prosperity adding a community spirit through sport to rival other pit areas and locally established teams. Welfare A large pleasantly gardened Huthwaite Miners Welfare Park opened in 1920. Gates off Columbia Street invited public entrance through grounds, completed with a bandstand and children's play area. Bordered pathways led into, a pavilion, courts, greens and pitches, accommodating a whole new range of healthy outdoor activities enjoyed elsewhere.   Main access was later given off Sutton Road

A postwar global recession gradually bit harder though, and restrictive coal quotas threated pit closures. By 1934 a three day week was introduced, quickly diminishing to just day to day survival. The company held three other larger collieries, leaving proud Huthwaite miners to fight their pits closure.   After suffering many redundancies, improved productivity eventually returned in time to fuel the Nations next major demand for coal through a Second World War. Introduction of underground machinery saw efficient winning off the Longwall faces from 1940.   Wartime colliery work was a recognised reserved occupation, so employees did find a uniformed role in the local Home Guard.   Younger men still elected to follow the call of duty, later replaced under a government scheme by relocating a number of Bevin Boys into Huthwaite.

During latter war years New Hucknall executives formed an amalgamation with other pit owners.   Grouped under new name New Hucknall and Blackwell Collieries Limited, they retained nine working mines for two years, before seeing the whole coal industry undergo 1947 Nationalisation.   Recurring disputes continued plaguing the NCB industry as the National Union of Mine Workers continued a long fight for better pay.   Two national strikes of 1972 and 1974 finally saw their wishes fulfilled, making the National Coal Board one of the best paid industries.   Efficiency was improved here with further mechanisation, our village workforce maintaining belief Huthwaite's coal reserves would maintain employment another two hundred years.New Hucknall Colliery

Difficulties did however become later realised, although no one would have predicted the eventual outcome.   The shocking news of final closure had to be dismally faced through 1981. After completing the pits 105 years lifetime, a skeleton crew began ultimate 1982 site salvage and its demolition.

E Lakin overlooking the Huthwaite Pit

Written 27 Aug 03 Revised 04 May 12 © by Gary Elliott