Final shift at Clipstone pit

IT was the end of an era for Clipstone Colliery on Thursday when the last tub of coal was finally lifted out of the doomed pit.

For more than 80 years, generations of village folk have mined coal at the pit – which is famous for becoming the country's first operating privatised pit in Britain and having the highest headstocks in Europe.

But the pit's closure is no surprise to local residents, who have seen its workforce shrink from around 2,000 to little more than 170 men.

Operators UK Coal — formerly RJB Mining — blame its demise on poor coal reserves and will hand back the pit's licence to the Coal Authority.

The industry giant stepped in to take over the pit's lease in 1993 after state owners shut the colliery along with 31 others as part of the Tory Government's devastating closure programme.

But UK Coal spokesman Stuart Oliver told Chad: "When we re-opened it in 1993 we said it had six or seven years left. Here we are a decade later having fulfilled all the promises and more. We have given more than 200 men a decade of additional work."

Since then Clipstone miners have helped produce nearly four million tonnes of coal – despite the pit being the smallest of the 12 deep mines operated by the Harworth-based firm.

Says colliery manager Kevin Bancroft: "My past four years here as manager have been a source of great satisfaction, working with a professional and dedicated group of men who have shown great determination to successfully mine a coal seam typically just a metre thick.

"That has been achieved with arguably the finest safety record in the whole of the United Kingdom, which speaks volumes for the quality of the Clipstone men."