Club Members Travels

Lofthouse Colliery.

I mentioned in my previous post about Lofthouse Colliery. Well, here is the history of it, as I know there will be interest in this sort of thing.

Lofthouse Colliery

The first Sods were ceremoniously cut on the 20th November 1873 and work on sinking 2 pit shafts commenced immediately after, initially to a rough depth of around 1050 feet then deepened further to 1370 feet during coal production.

Lofthouse Colliery started producing coal on 31st December 1877 then multitude of rail sidings were built initially by the Great Northern Railway to access the Colliery to aid the speedy export of coal and distribute it round the country. A private line was then built in 1883 which incorporated part of the Lake Lock railway and part of the 1840 navigation tramway to Lofthouse Gate, the line linked the Colliery to Stanley Ferry to export coal to the port of Goole via the Aire and Calder canal navigation.

On March 21st 1973 at around 2am disaster struck, in the mine workings known as district South 9B, miners were taking a standard longwall cut and a massive inrush of water, sludge and debris enterered and engulfed the whole workings.

Miners ran for their lives as the inrush continued to enter with immense force. At a position of safety it was found that 7 miners were unaccounted for. Immediately a mass rescue operation was launched by a team of the NCB local and Stafford frogmen. Water pumps were sent down the mine shaft and a local drilling rig was set up on the surface roughly under the point of where the intombed men were to try generate an air pocket in the workings of South 9B, 700 feet below the surface. In the meantime over 3,600.000 gallons of water and debris filled South 9B.

On the surface close to the drilling rig 3 large holes appeared in farm land which was ploughed a few days before the incident. These holes were part of older abandoned mine workings known as the Old Low Laithes Colliery which were sank around 1835 in that area.

These old abandoned workings over time had accumulated vast water retention until part of it was accidentally breached by the cutting of coal in South 9B.

After a 24 hour 7 day week operation of rescue was launched one out of the seven bodies was found very close to where the water had roofed the coal seam. 6 men are still entombed down in South 9B where after the rescue became totally impossible to get beyond two roadways which was filled with debris, slurry and sludge.

Direct above South 9B workings on the surface now stands an obelisk in memory of all 7 who lost their lives and the 6 that remain entombed as a memorial. Its just outside the village of Kirkhamgate near Wrenthorpe on Batley road close to Wrenthorpe Lane. Situated roughly 3 and half miles from former Lofthouse Colliery pit shafts near the now Outwood Station.