Hatfield Main Colliery


Hatfield Colliery - 1986




This photograph, taken 14th October 1911, shows the ceremonial cutting of the first turf on the site of Hatfield's shafts

1908 - 1917
Sometime around 1908, the first shaft sinkers arrived in the Doncaster area. The land to the north east of Doncaster, between Hatfield and Thorne, was rich in coal reserves, with several seams of good quality, low ash content coal. However, due to the geological conditions, getting at these resources proved to be difficult and costly.
On the 15th of March in 1917, Thomas Blandford produced a report for the Midlands Institute of Mining describing the difficulties of sinking the shafts for Hatfield Colliery.

Presented at the Danum Hotel in Doncaster, his report described the Francois system of cementation being used in the sinking of the Hatfield shafts.

The shaft sinkers had to pass through a layer of New Red Sandstone, a heavily porous material, which allowed water from the layers above to pour into the newly sunken shafts at an alarming rate.
The ordinary method of cementation previously employed in the sinking of shafts proved to be totally useless in these conditions.

The Hatfield Colliery Shaft Sinkers

The Hatfield Colliery Shaft Sinkers

As soon as the cement was applied to the sides of the shafts, it was washed out again by the pressure of the water.

The Francois system used a chemical process, wherein two chemical solution were employed. When mixed, the chemicals produced a gelatinous substance which effectively sealed the pores of the surrounding sandstone layers, allowing the application of the cement.

Pumps were used in the sumps at the bottoms of the shafts to remove any water which seeped into the shafts, and indeed, such pumps are still in use today.


1921 and Onwards

Hatfield Main and The Pit Club

By 1921 Hatfield Main was in full production. The nearby railway, canal and river outlets to the Humber, and the seemingly unlimited market for coal, offered a bright view of the future for the colliery owners.

From the day the pit opened and onward through the 1920's, a migrant workforce arrived in the Stainforth and Hatfield area.

By far the largest number of recruits came from the coalfields of Northumberland and Durham and for many years the villages around Hatfield abounded with more Geordie speakers than those with a Yorkshire dialect.

A second wave of migrants arrived in 1922, following the collapse of the 1921 strike and the subsequent victimisations in the coalfields further north.
The same happened again, following the strike of 1926, and then again during the great depression of the 1930's

1930 Shaft Incident

The luckiest miner ever to work at Hatfield Main was one of the early shaft examiners. His name was Fred Dunham and his unlucky workmate on that fateful day was Harry Sutcliff. Both men slipped when working on the top of the cage and plummeted down the shaft. Harry was killed but Fred somehow somersaulted three times, bouncing off the guide ropes, before he luckily grabbed a rope.
The rope was covered in grease, but holding tight,
he managed to slow his descent. Finally with his feet and legs wrapped round the guide ropes and pulling himself down hand over hand, he emerged into the pit bottom, hands blistered but alive.


December 12, 1939
  In the fortnight preceding Christmas of 1939, disaster struck at Hatfield Main.

One man died and over fifty were injured when the cage carrying men to the surface crashed into the headgear. Doncaster Royal Infirmary treated 58 men and boys for their injuries, most suffering from fractured limbs, though ten men and boys were subjected to amputations of their legs.
Hatfield Main 1939

Hatfield Main Colliery in 1939

A verdict of accidental death was returned at the inquest into the death of Daniel Horrigan, described as a stone worker of Arundel Street, Stainforth.

The jury at the inquest, held in The Guild Hall, French Gate, Doncaster, on Friday March 15, 1940, told the Coroner W.H. Carlile they were of the opinion that the safety devices did not cover a sufficient margin of error.


Through the war years 

During World War II, Prisoners of War found to have been coal miners in Germany, Poland or elsewhere, were drafted into the pits. A number of such prisoners were sent to Hatfield Main.

Italian P.O.W.s were also set to work on the coal barges at Stainforth canal.

After the war was over, ex-miners/prisoners and stateless persons, such as Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavians and Germans all found their way into the great fraternity of mining races and peoples.


Strikes and Strife

The miners of Hatfield Main played a major part in the strikes of '69, '72, '74 and finally in '84, where Tory trickery was used to fool those of lesser gumption into crossing picket lines for the first time at Hatfield.
After the '84 strike, the strength of the NUM at Hatfield declined.
By the '90s, after the pit had been bought by the previous management, the Union had been relocated to the St. John's Ambulance Brigade building on Emerson Avenue.


Seams Worked 

The Barnsley seam was worked from 1921 to 1984. In some areas, the Dunsil seam combines with the Barnsley seam and part of the Dunsil seam was extracted.

The High Hazel seam has been worked from 1927 to December 1993. The Hatfield Coal Company Limited recommenced mining activities within the High Hazel seam in July 1994.


This table shows the seams and the depths at which they are found
(This information is borrowed from the IMCL report for 1998)

Sharleston Top
Houghton Thin
Swinton Pottery
Two Foot
High Hazel
Kents Thick
Flockton Thick
Top Beeston

The Present

Hatfield Main 1939

On August 9th 2001 Hatfield Coal Company dramatically announced the closure of Hatfield Colliery. For several weeks the future of the mine hung in the balance. In October 2001 Richard Budge took over the running of the colliery under the name of his new company, Coal Power.


Under Hatfield Coal Company, production was quoted as the following:

Production at Hatfield is from a single advancing face strategy in the High Hazel seam.

Annual output is quoted as being between 350,000 and 400,000 t. Production has to take into consideration market demand and, thus, weekly advance rates differ between summer and winter.

Production figures for Coal Power will be given when I have them available.



Hatfield Coal Company Limited employed a workforce of 205, with an additional 26 persons working from outside contract in the company's coal prep plant.

Coal Power advertised vacancies at the mine in October 2001, so as yet the actual employment figures at Hatfield are unknown.


Hatfield's output is presently aimed at the domestic and industrial market. The mine had won a contract to supply nearby Drax Power Station at Selby with coal and under Coal Power's management the contract will probably be fulfilled. However, a message appearing in the Financial Times in October 2001 outlined Mr Budge's plans for an on site coal fired electricity generator, capable of producing 500 MW and feeding into the National Grid. This is a system much used in the USA and could provide Hatfield with a secure future as costs normally accrued in transporting coal no longer apply.


Profit / Loss?

Unfortunately, the financial state of the Hatfield Coal Company was never open for the scrutiny of anyone not directly concerned with the company.
The problem leading to the company's decline was cited as a "withdrawal of funding from a Japanese bank". It would appear that the mine had been given backing from the bank to the tune of £40 million, only to have the agreement annulled at such short notice that the company could not find another backer in time to stave off it's creditors.

With the possibility of the mine being tied to an on site power station, the future certainly looks much rosier than it did in late August 2001


Into the Future...

Hatfield has significant resources in both the High Hazel and Barnsley seams, which could give the mine a significantly long term life.

The mine has a simple layout for the continuation of working in the High Hazel seam, the reserves of which could last a predicted 10 to 12 years.

There are also outline plans for driving two drifts giving access to the Barnsley seam, which lays some 70m below the High Hazel, with the prospect of working the 1.9m seam by means of retreat.


Update - Spring 2002
In April of 2002, Coalpower publicly announced their plans for the future of Hatfield Colliery. The main part of Coalpower’s plan involves the construction of a 430 MW Coal Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Generation Plant. The colliery surface will also be transformed into a modern business park, provided with cheap electricity from the on-site power plant. The "Power Park" should be completed by 2005/6


January 30th 2004
After struggling throughout 2003 to find funding for their ambitious plans, Coalpower announced the closure of Hatfield Colliery. An estimated £30 million was needed to fund the project and save the colliery, but despite pleas from local MPs and the miners themselves, the pit was placed on a care and Maintenance order until March 2004. Ironically, this marks the 20th anniversary of the '84-'85 miners strike, during which the men of Hatfield Main fought against Tory plans to destroy the industry.
However, many residents of Stainforth were left in a state of confusion after news reports on the evening of Friday 30th January said that underground pumps had already been switched off and the shafts were beginning to fill with water. A news spokesman said the main ventilation fan was to be switched off that very same day.

Hatfield Colliery 2004


2006 - March Earlier this year Richard Budge announced the formation of his new company, Powerfuel PLC. In the second week of March, the announcement was made that Kuzbassrazrezugol (KRU), one of largest coal producers in Russia, had acquired a 51% shareholding in Powerfuel. KRU expect that by the time the colliery has been fully refurbished and production is at full capacity, possibly by 2009, Hatfield could be producing around 2m tonnes per year.

2007 - 2008 Autumn - winter .
Work is resumed on reshaping the colliery surface, this time with obvious intent. Large banks have been constructed around the site using spoil from the East Lane tip. Coal poduction has been resumed from a single face, with further developments being planned. Many of the old colliery buildings have been demolished and replaced with new structures.

2008 - March . An application to construct a 900 MW electricity generating plant has been made. This is to be built on the site of the colliery adjacent to the shafts, where plans for a similar 430 MW IGCC plant have already been approved.



Stainforth 2001 Homepage


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