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Great Britain - Chatterley Whitfield Colliery / Mining Museum and Underground Experience - 2018 [pic heavy] | Oblivion State Urban Exploration

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Great Britain Chatterley Whitfield Colliery / Mining Museum and Underground Experience - 2018 [pic heavy]

AndyK!

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This is another one of those places that became a bit of a project for @SpiderMonkey and I. There are cameras with sensors all over the site and I've read various reports of people being caught by a rather unfriendly security guy followed by an OTT police response, so in order to cover the site relatively thoroughly we were careful to avoid the security measures. This meant a few different visits over a 12 month period to cover various areas, but the persistence paid off and we were able to visit all bits we wanted to.

History of Chatterley Whitfield Colliery

Chatterley Whitfield is a disused coal mine on the outskirts of Chell, near Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire. It is one of the most complete former collieries in Europe. As such it has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a host of buildings on the site have Listed Building status. In its heyday, Chatterley Whitfield was one of the most productive sites in the country, and in 1937 was the first colliery to produce over one million tons of coal in a year.

Chatterley Whitfield, is situated on the North Staffordshire Coalfield, where evidence suggests coal was first extracted in the fourteenth century, and the first records of mining activity date from the 1750s. By the 1800s a colliery had started to develop with a number of shafts being sank. A great deal of expansion took place during the 1850s and 1860s.

The colliery suffered badly during the recession of the late 1920s and early 1930s, but as the economy recovered in the years leading up to the Second World War, over £300,000 was invested in new plant, workshops and railway equipment, leading to record-breaking years in 1937-9. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the coal industry was nationalised, and the colliery saw significant modernisation.

In 1974 it was decided that Whitfield coal could be more easily worked from Wolstanton Colliery and an underground roadway was driven to join the two pits. Chatterley Whitfield ceased production on 25th March 1977.

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The Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum

In 1979 the site re-opened as the Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum, with access to the underground workings via the Winstanley Shaft. Many of the surface buildings were renovated and machinery was restored in its original working condition to show in great realism the life and working conditions of local miners. At it's peak, it attracted 70,000 visitors a year.

In May 1986, the nearby Wolstanton colliery was closed, from where water was pumped out of the workings. This lead to fears that the underground mining experience at Chatterley Whitfield would flood and there would be a build up of gas. A new experience was constructed using shallow workings and a railway cutting. This enabled underground tours to continue until the museum was put into liquidation in 1993 and subsequently closed on 9th August that year.


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Hesketh, Platt and Institute headstocks (mobile shot)

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Platt and Institute headstocks, along with the main boiler house chimney

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Hesketh headgear, winding house and power house

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Winstanley heapstead


Hesketh Power House

Operational from 1914, the Hesketh power house contained compressor pumps and electrical generating equipment. Air was pushed into compressed air receivers to maintain pressure before being pumped down the pit where it would be used to power the machinery such as coal cutters, boring engines, jigger picks and conveyors.

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Walker Horizontal Reciprocating Steam Compressor Engine (relocated from Sutton Manor Colliery)

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Rear of the Walker compressor

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Reciprocating steam engines such as these were the primary source of electricity during the Victorian times

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A pair of British Thomson-Houston synchronous induction motors with an Alley air compressor in the centre

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Belliss & Morcom Vertical Cylinder Compressor, driven by the induction motors

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One of the British Thomson-Houston synchronous induction motors

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Makers plate on the compressor

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Air compressor built by Alley & MacLellan of Glasgow


Hesketh Winding House

Adjoined to the power house, the Hesketh winding house contains a 500 horsepower steam winding engine, made by Worsley Mesnes lromnakers, Wigan in 1914.

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From left to right: The Hesketh headstock, winding house and power house

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The Worsley Mesnes steam powered winding engine

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Steam winder with the banksman's position to the right

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Banksman's chair

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Shaft signal indicator

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Down in the basement we find a few other interesting bits...

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The stables for the pit horses were located on the ground floor of the winding house

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A stash of old control panels

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This old rail-mounted transformer was tucked away in the darkness

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Underside of the winder

Hesketh Headstock and Tub Hall

Work began on the Hesketh in 1914. It became operational in 1917 and during its life 24 million tons of coal was extracted. The last coal coming up the shaft in 1976. The shaft was 1900 feet deep and when coal was being hauled up and down the shaft it took 46 seconds, but this was slowed to 70 seconds when taking men up or down the shaft.

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Platt Fan House

The Platt fan house was constructed in the south-eastern part of the colliery circa 1930 to house a steam-driven fan. It is unclear whether it remained in operation following the construction of the Institute or Walker fan house immediately to the west circa 1958, but by the late C20 the building was used mostly for storage.

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This is where the fan itself was once located

Locomotive Shed and Workshops

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Exterior of the Locomotive Shed

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Wagons in the locomotive shed

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The workshops were still fully equipped

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Pit Head Baths

Pithead baths also housed the medical centre and was built 1936-37 in a Modernist style by the Miners' Welfare Committee

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Stairs and drinking fountains in the entrance

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Shower cubicles

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The locker areas are said to have each contained 3,817 lockers

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Canteen

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There's a giant hat hardon hard-hat in the canteen!

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The canteen was extended with a 'feeding centre' circa 1950

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Murals above the serving counter


Main Boiler House

A bank of 10 Lancashire boilers were erected in 1937 to supply steam for the winding engines, pithead baths, canteen, compressors and to heat the offices. In 1992/93 when the liquidators moved in the boilers were sold off for scrap. The roof was removed, but before the boilers were scrapped they were saved, however the roof was not replaced which has had a big effect of the derelict state they are now in.

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Three of the Lancashire boilers

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This whole building has become an absolute deathtrap!

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Walker Fan House and Drift

Situated between the Institute and Platt shafts the fan extracted some 43,000 cubic metres of air per minute, which entered the mine via the Hesketh and Winstanley shafts and exited through the Evasee up the Platt and Institute shafts.

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AEI Fan Motor

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Top of the fan drift


Institute Winding House

The Institute Winding House was installed in 1966 and was fitted with a single 270 horsepower electric drum winder. The system had one cage functioning as an upcast.

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Window control cabin

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General view of the winding house

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The winding drum

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"Code of Shaft Signals" signage dated 1967


Lamp House

The lamp house was added in 1922, after the older lamp house was deemed too small owing to an increase in manpower and the introduction of electric lamps.

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General view of the lamp house

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The few remaining lamp charging stations

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Lamps and battery packs

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Old sign and decaying rooms in the lamp house

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Part of the lamp house had been converted into the ticket office when the colliery was a museum

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Inside the museum shop

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Poster on the shop counter

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Map of the mine workings

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This mural was at the start of the museum tour as part of an exhibition explaining "how coal was formed". I'm not sure why they used images of how coal was used to illustrate it!


The Underground Experience

During my visits to Chatterley Whitfield I had wondered about the underground experience, but heard it had been demolished. I found where it used to be and saw it had indeed gone. However it has recently turned out that a small section still remains in the old air drifts and shallow workings, and only the section in the railway cutting has actually been demolished. It looked good too, so I headed down there to take a look myself.

The underground experience had been built at a shallow level as a replacement for the original underground tours which took place in deep level workings. Unfortunately those areas were flooded after the pumps that drained it were turned off following the closure of Wolstanton Colliery where the pumps were located.

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Entrance to the Platt shaft - visitors entered via the lift in this shaft for an authentic experience

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Wagons leading to the Institute shaft

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Lift cages in the Institute shaft

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View up the Institute shaft above the cages

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Cutting machine at the coal face

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Hydraulic rams behind the cutting machine

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One of the original shallow workings with a genuine coal seam at the end

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View down the conveyor, with posters promoting jobs in the coal industry

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And a couple more to finish off with.......

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Chatterley Whitfield Wagons with the colliery behind

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Clockwise from top left: Hesketh power house, Hesketh Headgear, Platt winding house and Headgear, Institute Headgear and winding house, chimney, boiler house, Lamp House, Locomotive shed, and the Walker fan drift in the centre.​
 

The_Raw

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Reports don't come much more extensive than that. Top notch exploring and reporting on every level!
 

jtza

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Wow. Incredible report in every way and more.
 

KPUrban_

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Amazing report there almost looks like you've captured every centimeter. I do like that "How coal was formed" poster, struggling to see why a HighSpeedTrain is on there interesting nevertheless.
 

Lenston

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Really should get myself up there to see this, great pictures mate.
 

jones-y-gog

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Fascinating report, shows absolute dedication to proper exploring!
I loved seeing the lamp charging station.
 
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