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Great Britain Chatterley Whitfield Colliery - July-Aug 19

Urbandoned

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Chatterley Whitfield Colliery

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On the outskirts of Chell in Staffordshire, stands an industrial monument of the utmost importance - the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. The disused coal mine is considered to be the most comprehensive survival of a deep mine site in England from the industry's period of peak production and it was the first colliery in the UK to produce 1,000,000 tons of saleable coal in a year. Following the closure of the mine in 1977, the buildings had served as a museum from 1979, which has long-since closed in 1993. The whole colliery site is now vacant and the buildings are in a very poor condition, it will need substantial public funding if it is to be rescued.

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On the first day at the colliery in late July, we had a bad start. Whilst fumbling our way through some tightly packed foliage outside the fence, we pushed aside the wrong branch, and instantly were swarmed with wasps. I think me and DustySensorPhotography suffered 3-4 stings each, and some of the wasps waited along time to get their moment... 20 minutes later on the way to grab some supplies, one suddenly had me on the ass and I can only apologise to the dog walker next to us for the language.

Back to it a bit later anyway, and we were finally onsite. There are many pole cameras but we managed to manoeuvre around them pretty comfortably (or maybe no one was watching...). Here's what we saw through this day.

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Up first was the power house:

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Inside the main hall; with grand tiling and brickwork, the hall would use compressor pumps to maintain the pressure of inserted air before sending it down into the mine to power various equipment such as the conveyors and coal cutters. It was operational from 1914.

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A bare room that connected the power house to the Hesketh winding house.

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Inside the winding house; the large wheel had been held up with scaffolding but was deteriorating greatly in places. The machine itself is a steam winding engine which would run on 500 horsepower. Although we didn't see them, I believe there are stables below it for the event.

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Operator's chair

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After concluding that the underground experience was sealed tight, we ended up at the more modern winding house, which contained a nice control cabin, looking over the machine. It became operational in 1966, in comparison to the older horse powered engine built in 1914.

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We then spontaneously decided to climb the Institute headstock, which convinced us to return to the site a week later. Looking over all of the damaged structures poking above the treeline was pretty surreal, and we realised there was so much more to see.

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On the way down

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And we're off. A week later our first target was the locomotive shed, but we found our way into the one-roomed Walker Fan House. This building was one of the most modern on site, and I didn't take any shots. Next door, inside the locomotive shed.

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The building also contained some wagons and minecarts in storage that were interesting to look at, as well as the workshops for their maintenance and repairs.

On the other end of the site, we found our way into the intact minecart circuit, which was probably my favourite region of the whole complex. The decay mixed with the isolated scenes of track running forward was special, especially as the building extends into the forest so you are surrounded by trees.

The carts would go in a circle depositing their contents after being flipped upside down by some blue contraptions in a row at one end of the track.

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Joint to the massive track was the tallest headstock on site, Hesketh. We attempted to climb this one but quickly had to come down, as the wind picked up and were being moved by it at the top floor! With the whole structure shaking, it probably wouldn't be advised.

The wheel at the top

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Finally, we visited the Pit Head Baths, which contained all the necessary facilities for workers. The canteen was particularly nice with the murals of coal-related iconography.

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That's all for the pictures.

We filmed the site and eventually decided to split it into two parts, because I'm not for posting a 40 minute video... I'll leave the link for the first part here. We cover the property's past, present and future through cinematics and narration:


Thanks for reading :)
 

AndyK!

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Wonderful job here. It certainly takes a while to get around the place, you did well in a couple of days.
 

The_Raw

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Enjoyed reading that. Nicely done!
 
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