PART FOUR

THE SINKING OF THE PIT

 

Thorne Boring Syndicate, which consisted of local business men, one of which was Mr Frederick Durham Foster JP, Makin Durham's grandson of Thorne Hall, employed the Colyx Diamond Boring Company to carry out boring work, with a view to sinking Thorne Pit, if the mineral content was found to be a viable proposition.  

The initial boring work was startd in 1904 and steadily continued until 1908 on the estate of the late Makin Durham - adjacent to the land belonging to Micklethwaite Farm - then leased by his company, the Yorkshire Land and Warping Company.  The boring operation revealed the presence of nine feet of the Barnsley seam coal on the 17th April 1908.

In 1909 the Syndicate employed a German firm, Tiefbau und Lalten industri Aktiengellschaft, who had perfected the technique of 'freezing'.  It seems that the flooding of Thorne Colliery was a problem from the very beginning of the boring and sinking of the first shaft due to geological problems.  This attempt to sink the first shaft was proving very successful, but was sabotaged by the German workers at the onset of the First World War in 1914.

Sinking of the first shaft

 While work commenced the first sinkers lived in a small village of wooden huts with corregated iron roofs.  The sinkers village was sited on the outskirts of Micklethwaite Farm.  The railway ran along one side of the sinkers village and the quarry, where the clay and sand were extracted in order to make the bricks that lined the shafts, was on the other side.  By 1918, the Quaker firm Pease and Partners from Darlington, had acquired the pit site from Thorne Boring Company, having already purchased the mineral rights in 1909

The first sinkers in their oiled calicos

Pease and Partners entered a contract with Francois Cementation Co.Ltd., having decided to use the cementation process rather than the freezing process, then the sinking work commenced for the second time, on the 18th March 1919.

Conditions down the pit in the early days before it was workable

On Friday, the 2nd August 1924, the Thorne newspaper reporter, Arthur Marston, reported in the Doncaster Gazette that the Barnsley seam had been reached sixteen years after a borehole found it.  The heading of the column read - PEASE, PERSEVERENCE AND PARTNERS

A 1924 newspaper cutting of Mr Pease and his manager holding the first pieces of coal from the newly opened Barnsley seam

The colliery was expected to be one of the largest and up to date in the country.  Number one shaft was completed by 1924, although the year of the 1925-26 General Strike hindered work, number two shaft was completed on the 13th March 1926, making the pit fully operational.  It is said that sixteen men had been killed while the first shaft was in operation producing coal, when the second shaft was being sunk.

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