Sinking of this colliery was commenced in March 1924 by the Leicestershire Colliery & Pipe Co. Ltd. at a site just over ¼ mile and almost due south from the village of Newbold. At first sight this would seem to be a very late and strange location for a new colliery, being an area which had been extensively worked for over 700 years at that time. A former National Coal Board employee has remarked that this colliery was a mopping-up operation of coal left unworked in previous operations.

new lount colliery plan

New Lount Colliery Surface Layout 1959 – Click the image to view a larger version

No.1 Shaft – Commenced in March 1924, this shaft was the downcast ventilation shaft for the colliery and was sunk to the Upper Roaster Seam. It intersected all the seams from the Slate Seam to the Upper Roaster horizon. The single Roaster Seam split in the northwards direction from the village of Ravenstone, to the south of the colliery and at New Lount the Upper leaf of the Roaster Seam was 30 yards above the Lower Roaster coal.

The depth of the shaft was 127 yards and it was completed in late September 1924. The shaft was brick lined throughout and was 15 feet finished diameter. A landing and sidings were laid out for winding from the bottom of the shaft, at the Upper Roaster Horizon. A 1 in 4 cross-measure drift was driven to enable coal from the Nether Lount Seam to be brought to the Upper Roaster pit bottom.

Twin cylinder horizontal winding engine 22in. x 48in., built by John Wood & Sons, Wigan, 1924, for No.1 Pit. John Wood Cat. 1925.

Twin cylinder horizontal winding engine 22in x 48in
Built by John Wood & Sons, Wigan, 1924, for No.1 Pit – John Wood Cat. 1925.

Winding (No.1 Pit) – A new twin cylinder horizontal winding engine was supplied in 1924 by John Wood & Sons Ltd., Barley Brook Foundry, Wigan. Cylinders were 22in. x 48in., fitted with piston valves and independent drop cut-off valves controlled by a governor. The piston valves were actuated by Stephenson’s link motion. When new, a Bertram’s Patent VISOR overwind/overspeed controller was fitted. John Wood & Sons Ltd. held the manufacturing rights for this type of controller. At a later date the VISOR was replaced by a Melling’s (Worsley Mesnes) pneumatic controller and in 1948 the engine cylinders were re-bored to 22.625in diameter.

When new, the winding drum was 12ft. diameter by 6ft. wide and carried winding ropes 1.125in. diameter. Later the winding drum was 11ft. 4in. diameter with winding ropes 1¼in. diameter, flattened strand type, and fitted with Ormerod detaching hooks. Four 1.125in. diameter guide ropes were provided for each cage. The cages were single deck, 9ft. 3½in. long by 4ft. 2½in. wide. Two tubs were carried each 4ft. long, 3ft. 0½in. wide and a body depth of 1ft. 9½ins.

Winding was rated at 150 winds per hour.

No.2 Shaft – Sinking began in May 1924 and was completed in late September 1924, to the Upper Roaster Seam horizon. The Middle Lount Seam was chosen as the bottom winding level at this shaft. The shaft was 15 feet finished diameter and lined in brickwork throughout. No.2 was the upcast ventilation shaft for the colliery.

Winding (No.2 Pit) – A new winding engine was supplied by John Wood & Sons Ltd., Wigan. Cylinders were 12in. x 42in. and the winding drum was 8ft. diameter by 5ft. wide. Winding ropes were 1.125in. diameter and three steel wire rope guides were provided for each cage. The two cages were single deck, 5ft. long by 4ft. wide each carrying a single tub of the same dimensions as at No.1 Pit.

Winding was rated at 180 winds per hour.

No.2 Shaft (Deepening)   Deepening of the No.2 Shaft was started in November 1933, from the Upper Roaster horizon to the Lower Roaster Seam 30 yards below and 151 yards from the surface. This was completed in the summer of 1934 and a new pit bottom was formed.

Winding – Alterations were made to the No.2 Pit headgear in order to accommodate cages of the same size as at No.1 Pit. A new airlock of brick construction with sliding steel doors was also built.

To cope with the increased winding requirements a larger winding engine was needed. An engine was obtained from a closed colliery in Co. Durham and this was installed and in operation by 1936. This larger engine was a twin cylinder horizontal made by Messrs. Longbotham of Wakefield. Cylinders were 24in.x 48in., fitted with slide valves. The winding drum was 12ft. diameter by 5ft. wide. In 1942 the cylinders were linered down to 21½in. bore and a new winding drum fitted 10ft. dia. by 5ft. wide. The winding ropes were 1¼in diameter flattened strand pattern, and in the new winding arrangements with the larger cages four 1.125in diameter steel wire rope guides were provided for each cage. The winding ropes were fitted with KING detaching hooks. Overwind/overspeed control was provided by a Melling’s (Worsley Mesnes) pneumatic controller.

In April 1936 a mishap occurred to the engine crankshaft which caused a stoppage for several days. Coal output was transferred to No.1 Pit which was worked double shift until repairs were completed on the No.2 Pit engine.

Initially at the deepened shaft, winding took place from a mid-landing at the Middle Lount horizon as well as from the new pit bottom at the Lower Roaster horizon. To eliminate the mid-landing, a 1 in 4 drift was raised from the Upper Roaster Seam near No.1 Pit, to the Middle Lount main dip haulage road. This enable Middle Lount coal to be diverted to No.1 Pit bottom and winding concentrated there.

The headgears at both shafts were of steel construction with 12ft. dia. pulleys, made by Messrs. Head, Wrightson of Thornaby-on-Tees, as were the pit head gantries and coal screening plant. In 1937, Westinghouse compressed air rams for tub changing were installed at both pit tops. With these in operation the winding cycle times were:-

  • No.1 Pit (winding from 127 yards) – Running time in shaft 16½ seconds
  • Tub changing time 6 seconds
  • Total cycle time 22½ seconds
  • Winds per hour – 160
  • No.2 Pit (winding from 151 yards) – Running time in shaft 19 seconds.
  • Tub changing time 5 seconds.
  • Total cycle time 24 seconds.
  • Winds per hour – 140

Boilers – 3 Lancashire boilers working at 160psi were installed in 1924. In view of the relatively high working pressure these boilers were moot probably new to the colliery.

Ventilation – An 80 horse-power SIROCCO ventilating fan, 12ft. diameter, and running at 580 rpm was installed for the opening of the colliery. The speed of the fan may indicate that it was direct coupled to a 10-pole AC motor.

This fan was replaced by the National Coal Board in the early 1950’s.

Electrical Power – Electricity was normally purchased from the Leicestershire & Warwickshire Electric Supply Co. Ltd. but a Belliss & Morcom steam engine generating set was installed at the colliery.

Pumping – The initial pumping plant at the colliery comprised 2 Mather & Platt electrically driven turbine pumps, one of 130hp. delivering 600 gallons per minute and one of 47hp. delivering 200 gallons per minute. These were located in the Upper Roaster Seam in a pump house near to No.1 Pit Bottom.

In 1936 a third turbine pump was added in the No.1 Pit Bottom pump house. This again was by Mather & Platt, of 60hp. and 300gpm delivery capacity. To cater for this extra pumping capacity, another delivery column was installed in No.2 Shaft to the surface. Prior to this, in 1934, a new water lodgement had been made, adjacent to and connecting to the existing pump house. The water lodgement capacity was approximately 300,000 gallons.

During 1930 pit head baths were constructed and water was supplied to these in quite a novel manner. A suitable supply of water was given out by the Stinking Seam. This was therefore connected by piping to the No.1 Pit Bottom pump house. A small 10hp. Worthington-Simpson 3-throw ram pump was installed in the pump house and this delivered through a new 2½ inch pumping main in the shaft and thence to the baths.

About 1930, a 3-throw Lee Howl ram pump driven by an oil engine was installed at an old shaft in Smoile Wood, in order to de-water a large area of old workings in that locality.

In 1942, it was known that the neighbouring workings of the closed Coleorton Colliery were waterlogged and it was decided to de-water them by means of boreholes from the New Lount dip workings in the Nether Lount Seam. A 5 inch diameter pipe range was installed from the pit bottom to the Nether Lount dip and a 175hp. multi-throw ram pump was installed in the dip. At the surveyed 40 yard limit between the Nether Lount and the former Coleorton workings, specialist boring contractors, Messrs Kyle of Ayrshire, drilled two boreholes and contacted the water at the precise distance. The water was at a head of 240 feet and it was allowed to flow in a controlled manner to drain the old workings. This continued from October 1942 until the spring of 1943 when the head had reduced to zero and there was an inflow varying from 50 to 75 gallons per minute.

By 1944 the Nether Lount workings had reached their lowest level and Messrs Kyle drilled two further boreholes which contacted water at the surveyed distance. The previous boreholes were sealed off and the new boreholes connected to the pump. The water was pumped to the Pit Bottom through the existing pipe range, a distance of some 2000 yards. The pipe range and pump continued to be maintained in working order to protect the New Lount workings from sudden inrushes of water.

Underground Transport – Electrically driven endless-rope haulages were used throughout on the main haulage roadways. There were several of these and during the life of the colliery up to the early 1950ls there were almost continuous alterations and improvements. The haulage engines ranged from 50 to 100 horse power, of various makes, e.g. Becander and Uskside Engineering Company.

Improvements were also made to the empty tub circuits at the pit bottoms. This enabled tubs to gravitate around the circuit having first been, raised up a ramp by a “creeper” which engaged the tub axles. The creepers were made by Messrs. W.H. Barker of Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.

At first tubs were taken to the working places at the coal face for loading, but in 1928 a shaker-pan face conveyor was introduced on one of the Middle Lount faces. The use of face conveyors then proceeded throughout by degrees. Gate-end loading points were installed to fill the tubs which could be hauled by main and tail rope haulages to the main roadway endless rope haul ages. At a later date some gate roads were fitted out with conveyors instead of tub haulage systems.

New and larger all-steel tubs, being 4ft. 4in. long, 3ft 0½in. wide and a 2 feet deep body, were introduced in 1935. As before the rail track gauge was 2 feet. Carrying capacity was nominally 11¾ cwt. and the tare was 6¾ cwt. Eventually 725 of these tubs were in service. Two tubs have been privately preserved.

About 1951/52 a drift was put down from the surface and fitted out with a trunk belt conveyor. This eliminated coal winding at the shafts and also most if not all of the rope haulage systems. The drift was not entirely free from problems. On one occasion a goat, which obviously resided locally, broke loose from its moorings and entered the colliery yard. Having carried out a reconnaissance the goat decided that the drift warranted further investigation. Eventually it came across an overman and some workmen. Four men eventually captured the goat but not before it had butted the overman. It was duly trussed up and placed on the conveyor for safe transit back to the surface.

A further drift was put down in 1952/53 on a gradient of 1 in 4 from the site of the closed Coleorton (New) Colliery. This has been described under that heading.

Underground Working – Following sinking of the shafts working was started to develop the Middle and Nether Lount Seams and the Upper Roaster Seam. Longwall working was adopted in the Middle Lount Seam whilst pillar and stall working was adopted in the Nether Lount and Upper Roaster Seams. This method of working continued until 1930 when longwall working was introduced gradually throughout, the programme being completed in 1932. Mechanised coal cutting was in use from the outset, Anderson-Boyes chain coal cutters being used on the longwall faces and Siskol bar cutters in the pillar and stall workings.

In those earlier years of the colliery the main pit bottom roadways were supported by H-section rolled steel joists-resting on brick walls. Other main roadways were supported by RSJ’s with, timber side supports. Some road-ways were supported by timber only but these were found to be unsatisfactory and in 1928 steel arch roadway supports were introduced and these became general throughout the colliery.

Double unit longwall faces were favoured having a centre gate roadway for the loading and transport of coal outbye and an air roadway at each end. Shaker pan face conveyors were used on the part of the face to the rise of the loading gate and scraper chain conveyors on the dip section.

An incident occurred in December 1932 on a Nether Lount rise double unit face. During the coal cutting shift old workings (presumably uncharted) were struck resulting in an inrush of water under considerable pressure. Two million gallons of water flowed in the space of two days. Fortunately the pit bottom pumps proved capable of pumping the whole of this water to the surface. This incident illustrates the uncertainties of working in the area of the exposed coal measures which had been previously worked over a period of several hundred years.

During the National Coal Board era cutter-loader coal getting machines were introduced together with armoured scraper chain face conveyors. Hydraulic props and chocks with steel roof bars were employed in conjunction with the cutter-loader machines.

In the time of coal company ownership of the colliery in order to improve roof control on the Lower Roaster Seam faces, dummy road or dummy gate packing in the goaf was adopted. The dummy gates followed the face and the stone brought down from the rippings was built into gateside packs. This gave good quality packs and reduced the weight of the roof on the coal face. As the face moved on, the supports of the dummy gates were progressively removed, allowing the dummy gates to gradually collapse. The later introduction by the National Coal Board of hydraulic props and chocks eliminated the need for dummy gate packing.

Coal Preparation – At the start of operations the screening plant comprised two tub tipplers and two shaking screens, one for steam coal and one for house coal. As the underlying clay was worked on some coal faces, one of the tipplers was devoted to handling this material. Some six grades of coal were produced by this screening plant.

A large extension was made to the preparation plant in 1930. This comprised additional shaking screens, tub tipplers plus a dry cleaning plant. Picking belts and pulsating loading chutes for railway wagons were also installed. For the popular “nut” sizes dirt separators were installed to deal with Double Screened Nuts and Bakers’ Nuts. With these extensions to the coal preparation plant up to 20 grades of coal could be produced. This wide range of sorts of coal illustrates the meticulous demands of customers at that time.

Dirt Disposal – The disposal of “dirt” from the coal preparation plant was mechanised in 1934 with the installation of a Blantyre Engineering Co. patent bogie system. The bogie was automatically tipped when it reached the summit of the dirt tip. Haul age was by a wire rope from a haulage engine housed on an extension from the existing screens gantry. The extension also accommodated a tub tippler for filling the bogie.

A second Blantyre patent dirt bogie system was installed in 1937.

Clay Working – The fireclay underlying the coal seams was worked at colliery but in 1934 exploratory boreholes and shafts were sunk in a field at Lount, near to but not connected to the colliery. The Middle Lount Coal and the underlying clay were intersected. This clay and some of the coal was subsequently worked opencast and the site was known as Dalls Farm Quarry. It was worked independently of the colliery. An incline for tubs was installed to bring the fireclay and coal out of the quarry hole to a loading point where the material was tipped into lorries for transport to Newbold Pipe Works.

Domestic Facilities – Pit head baths were erected in 1930 for the benefit of the miners and these appear to have been the first at any colliery in Leicestershire.

At the colliery reservoir, a water treatment plant was commissioned in 1934. Water mains were laid to the Newbold Pipe Works and to Newbold village. The village had increased in size following the opening of the colliery and now had the benefit of a treated water supply.

Production (1946) Coal 511,958 tons.  Clay 9,227 tons
Seams Worked (1952) Middle Lount, Nether Lount, Roaster plus fireclay
Workforce (1952) 791 Underground, 165 Surface
CLOSURE July 1968

Copyright © NMRS Records: Geoff Hayes Collection

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