Askern Colliery Copyright © Darren Haywood

Askern Colliery
Copyright © Darren Haywood

This colliery stood on the Permian limestone ridge overlooking the village of Askern. The Askern Coal & Iron Co. Ltd began sinking two 6.55 metre diameter shafts here in April 1911. Having got through waterlogged ground using tubbing, the shafts reached the Barnsley seam horizon at a depth of 515 metres. Here, however, the seam was much diminished in total thickness and only the top part, where the Top Softs and Rider coal have combined to form the Warren House seam, was worked. Mining was further disrupted by the proximity of the Morley Campsall Fault Belt.

The two winding engines, built by Yates and Thom Ltd of Blackburn and installed in 1912, were identical to those at Astley Green, near Tyldesley in Lancashire. They were the largest to be installed in Britain. Those at Askern were demolished around 1981, but the one on No.1 Shaft at Astley Green survives. Ventilation was by a Walker fan, 6.4 metres diameter by 2.3 metres wide.

The shafts were continued to the Flockton Seam, which had 0.9 metre of bright coal, at a depth of 656.5 metres. This seam was developed and worked between 1913 and 1928. The High Hazel, or Kent’s thick, seam was also worked between 1933 and 1937. The NCB returned to the Flockton seam between 1951 and 1969, but throughout the mine’s life the majority of the coal came from faces in the Warren House seam.

The colliery was linked to the LMSR’s Askern Branch, but in the late 1920s a Coalite (smokeless fuel) plant was built next door. This took part of Askern’s output and worked until 1986. The low price of coal led to serious financial losses and Askern closed on December 20th 1991.

Further reading:

  • NMRS Records, Gazetteer of British Collieries
  • Sections of Strata of the Yorkshire Coalfield, Midland Institute of Mining Engineers, 1927
  • Hill, A. The South Yorkshire Coalfield: A History and Development (Stroud: Tempus, 2002)
  • Hill, A. Colliery Ventilation (Matlock: Peak District Mines Historical Society Ltd, 2000)
  • Hill, A. Coal: A Chronology for Britain (NMRS, British Mining No.94, 2012)
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