Closure of Kellingley Colliery
Today marks the sad closure of the UK’s last remaining deep coal mine. Kellingley Colliery has been in operation since 1965, but after fifty years of work, the 450 remaining miners left for the last time.
Huge effort was put into opening Kellingley, with boreholes being made in the 1950’s to establish the mine’s viability. The ground that its two shafts were lowered into was created from waterlogged sandy soils. In order to create the shafts, freezing cold brine was pumped into the soil, before the shafts were given a concreted lining, and the soil allowed to thaw.
During its hayday Kellingley employed over 2,000 workers, who could bring 900 tonnes of coal to the surface in an hour. There are still huge coal reserves left at the site, but the mine is unable to compete with cheaper imports, meaning an end of an era for the UK’s coal industry.
Kellingley covered an area of 58 hectares, with two main shafts, going 800m deep - one to transport the men and the other for the coal. The journey to the coal face was long. Once the miners reached the bottom of the shaft, they then had a 45 minute train journey, before being transported on an conveyor, face down, to the coal.
During its hayday Kellingley employed over 2,000 workers, who could bring 900 tonnes of coal to the surface in an hour.
Temperatures at the coal face could reach 34°C with a humidity of 100%. Known as ‘Big K’ the last tonne of coal mined from Kellingley will be put on display in the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield. Coal had such a vital part to play in the UK’s economy, fueling the industrial revolution and at one point providing millions of jobs. Whilst coal will still be mined in the UK, it will be from our 26 remaining open pits.
Compare this to the UK’s peak coal mining, with 1,334 deep mines bringing 228 million tonnes of coal to the surface. The closure of Kellingley really does mark the end of an era.