Upton Colliery Copyright © Kenneth Simons - used with kind permission

Upton Colliery
Copyright © Kenneth Simons – used with kind permission

The Upton Colliery Co. Ltd was floated by Bolckow Vaughan & Co. Ltd and the Cortonwood Co. Ltd in 1923. Preliminary work, in preparation for shaft sinking, began in March 1924. Sinking at the West Shaft began on September 26th 1925, but was suspended from August 1927 until January 1930. The Barnsley seam was reached, at a depth of 650 metres, on January 22nd 1930. Work on the East Pit began January 26th 1926 and reached the Barnsley seam on June 12th 1927

The first coal raised in July 1927 and almost immediately the workings were troubled by faulting. To the south-west of the shafts the boundary of the take was only one kilometre away, so when it was found that a fault had dropped the Barnsley 90 metres there was even less room for mining.

Workings to the north were also plagued by faults and the Barnsley seam throughout was troubled by heatings. Faces and whole districts were lost through these fires, which often occurred where work was delayed by faulting.

Around 1939 the colliery was sold to Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd, who worked it until the industry was nationalised. Between 1940 and 1945 it opened faces in the 0.81 metre thick Beamshaw seam, which was shown on the shaft section as the Stanley Main coal. Under the NCB, work in the Beamshaw resumed in 1951 and continued until 1960.

The NCB also worked the 0.74 metre thick Winter, or Abdy, seam between 1956 and 1961. Of course the Beamshaw and Winter seam workings met the same faults as those which plagued the Barnsley seam.

In order to plan the colliery’s future, the NCB began a programme of over 40 exploratory borings in 1950. These proved that the faulting continued through enough of the colliery’s take to make it unworthy of significant expenditure on development.

On May 20th 1964 an explosion occurred in the Barnsley seam, which was sealed off. This left the colliery with few reserves and so, after consulting the unions, Upton closed in November 1964 because it was ‘no longer considered safe’. 136 men were kept to do salvage and surface work.

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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