End of an era...Thoresby Colliery closes

Happier days...workers finishing a shift
Happier days...workers finishing a shift

Coalmining in our region came to a sombre end today as the last remaining workers finished their final shift at Thoresby Colliery.

After 90 years of production, the remaining workers said goodbye to the pit after numerous attempts to save the industry in recent months failed.

Work at the colliery had meant to continue until 24th July, but the efficiency of those left working meant the work was drawn to a close.

Half of the 600-plus workforce were laid off last year, with the remaining 300 finishing today.

Those who finished this week will continue to be paid until 24th July.

Workers left the site, off the A6075, around midday after the pit machines were turned off ahead of the 1pm predicted finishing time.

Many said an emotional goodbye to colleagues and friends, while others went to the pub in nearby Edwinstowe for a drink.

Worker Mick Brennan (47) from Edwinstowe, who had worked at the pit since he left school 31 years ago, said: “It’s a very sad day, we just wanted to carry on really.

“We know there’s coal being imported into this country, and we didn’t see could still be part of that. We feel cheated.”

Miner Ian Taylor, (45) from Ollerton, told Chad: “I’m looking forward to the future, but we all wish we could have carried on.

“The Government’s energy policies are absolutely rubbish, why are we importing coal when we have it here?

“Everyone who works here will be keeping in touch, there’s already get-togethers being organised.”

Derek Main, who has been the pit manager for five-and-a-half years, added: “The feelings are that of sadness, a little bit of frustration but a lot of pride as well.

“We are two weeks ahead of the plan and it’s testimony to everybody who worked on the site.

“The best people I have ever worked with are those from Nottinghamshire, I really don’t know why that is but they are superb.

“It’s been a privilege to manage this colliery.”

Many had already been laid off as part of a winding-down operation since UK Coal announced last year that global coal prices had left it needing millions of pounds to remain open.

Cheaper coal from abroad, coupled with the strong pound against the dollar, was blamed for the demise of the British industry.

Union chiefs argued that the mine was still profitable with enough coal in the ground to keep miners employed for a number years, and raised concerns over Britain’s reliance on cheap, imported fuel.

The Government pledged tens of millions of pounds to keep the pit running until its closure, but refused to bankroll a £338m lifeline to keep it open for another four years.

Eric Eaton, chairman of the Nottinghamshire NUM for ex and retired miners said: “We have tried and tried to keep it open, but unfortunately the Government were not listening.

“They said they would do everything they could to do to keep it open but they haven’t.

“I worked here at Thoresby until 2006 so this day is especially poignant for me.”

Thoresby was one of only three deep coalmines left in Britain, however, UK Coal-owned Kellingley Colliery in South Yorkshire will close later in the year, while Hatfield closed recently.

Some workers will remain on site at Thoresby until October to clean the remaining coal and make the area safe.