Markham Main Colliery Copyright © Stuart Tomlins and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Markham Main Colliery
Copyright © Stuart Tomlins and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Not to be confused with the Markham Colliery near Duckmanton in Derbyshire, or the one at Blackwood in Monmouthshire.

In June 1913 Earl Fitzwilliam leased the minerals under his Armthorpe estate to Sir Arthur Markham. After the latter’s death at Newstead Abbey, formerly the home of the Byron family, on August 5th 1916 the venture was called Markham Main in his honour.

The Markham Main Colliery Ltd began sinking two 5.2 metre diameter shafts on May 6th 1916, but work was discontinued on August 24th to await the end of war-time restrictions on capital and shortages of materials and manpower. Sinking was briefly resumed in 1919, but was suspended until May 21st 1922. Both shafts reached the Barnsley seam, at a depth of 668½ metres, in May 1924.

Rail links were established with the GCR’s Barnsley to Barnetby line, to the west, and the South Yorkshire Joint Railway, to the south. The close proximity of Doncaster no doubt encouraged the growth of its landsale facilities.

Coal raising began once the main haulage gates reached the edge of the shaft pillar. At first a longwall system of tub stalls, worked entirely by hand, was used. In 1934, however, the first conveyor was introduced on a longwall advancing face. A coal cutting machine was introduced at Markham in 1937 and by June 1942 conveyors were taking coal off the faces and feeding it onto gate belts. Also in 1937 the colliery became part of Doncaster Amalgamated Collieries Ltd, which worked it until nationalisation in 1947.

Under the NCB the Dunsil seam was worked on the north-east side of the shafts from 1954 to 1958. In other parts of the take the Dunsil united with the Barnsley seam to give 4.25 metres of coal, though the full section was not worked.

Under British Coal Corporation Markham made losses and, despite its substantial reserves, was closed on October 16th 1992. In 1993 the pit was described as ‘Non-operational’, but it was reopened by Coal Investments Ltd in 1994. Heavy losses continued, however, and Markham finally closed in September 1996.

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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