Pilsley colliery was sunk by the Pilsley colliery company which comprised of the major land owners of the area, it commenced mining operations in 1866. Six shafts were sunk in total on the complex to wind coal, draw water, ventilate and supply compressed air for the machinery within the mine. The initial shaft sinking commenced in 1866 when the first shafts of 146 yards deep and nine feet in diameter to the Deep Hard seam was started. Further shafts were sunk between 1873 and 1875, one to the Blackshale or Silkstone seam, larger and deeper than the first by being twelve feet in diameter and 274 yards deep. The third of the coal shafts was sunk to the Tupton or Low Main seam and was 216 yards deep.
Deep Hard coal was wound at one tub of coal per cage, weighing nine hundredweight, number two shaft was capable of raising seventeen hundredweight i.e. two tubs of eight and a half hundredweight each side by side on the cage. The number three shaft was capable of raising eighteen hundredweight of coal per run with two tubs on each deck of nine hundredweight each. The steam winders which were manufactured in Chesterfield by Oliver and company were capable of winding and changing the tubs at each shaft in less than sixty seconds.
The colliery employed some 945 men in the pits heyday capable of producing 1,200 tons of coal per shift, the colliery was vested into the National Coal Board in 1947 and survived a further ten years until closure on April 27th. 1957.
6th September 1873.
On Tuesday afternoon a large number of the workpeople employed by the Pilsley Colliery Company limited near Clay Cross assembled at the Star Inn Pilsley for the purpose of commemorating the establishment of a new club at a dinner. Dr. R. T. Goodall of Clay Cross and surgeon to the new club was voted into the chair whilst his secretary Mr. Henry Banks acted as vice chairman. The chairman gave the toast “Health and prosperity to the Pilsley Company” coupling with the toast the name of Mr. Thomas Houldsworth, about whom he said he knew no better friend to the working man. Although Mr. Houldsworth was unavoidably absent he had sent by Mr. William Thorpe a cheque for £50 as a donation to the new club. It was always the desire of Mr. Houldsworth that the men should attend to their work and get plenty of money. The chairman said that in their club they would have far more advantages that they had previously enjoyed. There would be surgical and medical aid both for parents and children as well as pecuniary benefit for members of the club. The remainder of the evening was spent in toasts, song, glee and music.
The Sutton in Ashfield Brass Band and Glee Singers provided
15th April 1874.
Another strike of miners to swell the already large number now out of employment has taken place of all the colliers in the employ of the Pilsley Colliery Company Limited. They Struck work on Saturday not against a reduction in wages or to claim an advance but because the owners had introduced a new code of contract rules for their guidance.
27th October 1888.
The Pilsley Colliery Company have given the advance asked for by the men employed in their Tupton seam after a nine day strike.
Mr. Houldsworth Managing Partner of the Alma and Pilsley collieries was interviewed on Tuesday and consented to meet the demands of the men by granting the 10% advance, some 1,300 men are concerned.
6th July 1889.
On Friday the men employed at the three pits at Pilsley near Clay Cross owned by the Pilsley Colliery Company were summoned to a pithead meeting to hear a communication from the company. The letter sent to Mr. Guest the men’s representative and read by him was very agreeably received. It stated that the company had decided to give the 10% advance on the conditions as accepted in the district. The following resolution was then carried with much enthusiasm that the meeting decided to express its thanks to the Pilsley Colliery Company for having settled with their workmen on the lines laid down by the Manchester Conference viz: to give an advance of 5% on the 1st July and the second 55 on the 1st October and it pledged to pay a levy of 6d per week per man to support those who have to contend for the same terms.
At the Alma Collieries owned by Mr. Thomas Houldsworth, similar proceedings took place on Thursday and as these two firms employ some 1,500 hands it may be considered that the whole of the Clay Cross district as far as this question is concerned is settled and the other important companies have granted the terms asked for.
The Two Penny Pilsley Colliery School Check.
I was given the token by a good friend of mine Glynn Waite and decided to do a little research into it.
Here is what I found.
In days when the poor were unable to afford regular schooling for their children because of the costs involved attendances were low at the school, some School Guardians would contribute money to the school to help educate the children but this money was not always guaranteed. Some free education was afforded to the children from the local Methodist chapel but this consisted of Sunday School with a very religious bias.
Some forward thinking and philanthropic companies issued tokens which were used to offset the cost of educating the workers children at the local school. The tokens were issued from the Pilsley colliery company from September 20th 1878 onwards until the early 1900’s and were used to pay or offset the payment for the children’s education at the local Board School at Pilsley which was founded in 1875 and opened in 1876. The tokens were collected from the pupils daily and their face value as cash was refunded to the school by the company.
Tokens were issued on a daily basis and the school then had a set income which led to the numbers of children attending the schools swelling. However if the miners were on strike or attending miner’s demonstrations in Chesterfield the children did not attend school, presumably the tokens were only issued if the parent was in employment by the company. Strikes in 1899 and 1904 led to the loss of many days in the children’s education. The colliery was vested into the National Coal Board on January 1st. 1947 and closed ten years later in 1957.
See: Pilsley, Pictures of the Past. Stephanie M. Bingham.