Chatterley Whitfield Colliery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Biddulph Road, Chatterley Whitfield, Stoke-on-Trent


Ordnance survey map of Chatterley Whitfield Colliery
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Statutory Address:
Biddulph Road, Chatterley Whitfield, Stoke-on-Trent

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Stoke-on-Trent (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


The monument includes the standing, buried and earthwork remains of what is effectively the southern half of a mid-C19 to late-C20 colliery. The area contains the greatest concentration of surviving buried archaeological remains of colliery buildings and features, a group of shafts and their heapsteads (buildings and works around a mine shaft) and a former railways sidings area.

Reasons for Designation

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, which dates from the mid-C19 through to the late C20, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: it is considered to be the most comprehensive survival of a deep mine site in England from the industry's period of peak production, and one which retains clear evidence for its historical development and the technologies employed there; * Diversity: it includes a diverse range of buildings, structures and buried archaeological remains which, together, preserve the surface history of the coal industry from the 1860s through to post-nationalisation; * Representation: although some of its structures are present at other colliery sites, the significance of Chatterley Whitfield lies in its completeness which is unequalled in any other former or surviving coalfield site in the country; * Historic interest: for its position at the forefront of mining technology during the C20.


Within Britain, coal occurs in huge deposits over vast areas and this has given rise to a variety of coalfields that extend from the north of England to the Kent coast. The technology of coal mining became increasingly complex through time with the gradual mechanisation of the majority of mining operations. The application of steam winding and steam pumping throughout the C18 and C19 gave access to greater quantities of coal at increased depths. This in turn stimulated techniques in shaft winding, coal screening and grading, pit-top organisation and headgear form. Power for underground purposes could be supplied in a number of different ways including steam engines, and from the mid-C19 underground machinery was increasingly operated by compressed air. During the early C20 this was slowly replaced by the generator house as collieries gradually became electrified. Ventilation is of particular importance in coal mines and by the mid-C19, steam-driven fans were introduced.

The buildings and structures associated with these processes dominate the 'modern' collieries of the late C19 onwards. Naturally, these surface arrangements never remained entirely static and continued to be modified and improved with electrification gradually replacing redundant steam engines, especially after nationalisation.

The coal seams in the Chatterley Whitfield area may have been worked from the medieval period but the development of the present colliery site did not begin until the mid-C19 following the opening of the North Staffordshire Railway's Biddulph Valley line. Abandoned shallow shafts on the Whitfield Estate were widened and deepened by landowner Hugh Henshall Williamson, and a short railway line was built to connect the colliery with the Biddulph Valley line. From the mid-C19 the mine workings were focussed around a number of shafts which were laid out on a south-west to north-east alignment. Two of these shafts – Laura and Albert – were situated to the east of the extant colliery site; they have been capped, their buildings cleared, and the ground has been levelled.

Bellringer was one of the earliest shafts and was sunk in around 1840. It was widened and deepened in 1874-6 when it was re-named Institute, and it drew coal until 1955. Middle Pit, which was called Ragman until it was deepened in around 1881, was one of the colliery's main drawing shafts. Its winding house was constructed in 1895. This was later demolished, but a replacement winding house was built as a museum exhibit in 1985. The shaft was capped and infilled in the 1960s. Engine Pit (sunk in the 1850s) is located to the south-west of Middle Pit. Its shaft has been capped and infilled, and the winding house, which is shown on the 1898 OS map, was demolished in the early C20. It was located in the area now occupied by the Winstanley heapstead. A new upcast shaft – Platt - was sunk in 1883 to reach the Cockshead seam following the collapse and abandonment of Laura Pit in 1881. The heapstead around Platt was largely developed over a ten-year period: a winding house of 1883; a fan house containing a steam-driven fan which was added in 1884; and a twin-cylinder steam engine which was installed in 1894 to power the underground rope haulage system. Its timber headgear was replaced by one in steel in about 1920. In c.1960 the Platt fan house was decommissioned and from this date the shaft was ventilated by the Walker fan house (27) to the north-west.

A railway sidings area was first established during the mid-C19 when the rail link was laid between the Biddulph Valley Line and Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. The Ordnance Survey maps of 1884 and 1889 depict the expansion of these sidings, while a paper dated 1894 describes the arrangement of sidings as having separate tracks 'for each of the ten classes of coal'. Wagons loaded with coal were lowered by brake down to the sidings and horses were used to haul the empty wagons back up to the colliery. The current layout is thought to date largely from the mid-C20 and included an elevated coal screening plant and a de-dusting plant which were erected over part of the sidings, but had been demolished by the 1980s. During the museum's tenure, after visitor access to the mine workings was no longer possible due to flooding, an 'underground visitor experience' was created over part of the sidings; this was demolished in 2006. Bridges over the cutting, some carrying rail tracks, provided access to the land beyond where there was a spoil tip during the C19, though this was levelled in the early C20 and further railway sidings were laid out here.

In c.1872 the colliery was purchased by the Chatterley Coal and Iron Company with the intention that Whitfield coal be used in the manufacture of iron, and in 1891 it became Chatterley Whitfield Collieries Limited. A programme of modification and improvements took place which brought the colliery to the forefront of mine electrification and mechanisation processes.

The Winstanley shaft was sunk in 1913-14 following a minor explosion in Middle Pit and also in response to concerns about ventilation in the workings served by Engine and Middle Pits. There had been a rapid expansion in the mine workings between 1903 and 1913 and neither of these shafts met the minimum ventilation requirements established by the Coal Mines Act of 1911. Winstanley opened in 1914 and served as a downcast (ventilation) shaft, but also carried men and material. The Winstanley shaft was completed in January 1914 and was coupled up to the fan as an upcast shaft in February 1915. There is no evidence to suggest who was responsible for the construction of the brick-encased heapstead which was built on the site of the winding house for Engine Pit. Maps depict stables to the north of the Winstanley heapstead which were extant until at least 1958.

In 1914-1917, soon after the Winstanley shaft was opened, another new shaft – Hesketh - was sunk in the eastern part of the colliery. It was designed to serve the much deeper coal seems below those worked by the other shafts and was used for drawing coal and for carrying men. Following a contraction in production during the labour unrest of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s, there was renewed investment in Chatterley Whitfield, including the mechanisation of underground haulage and the construction of new office accommodation and a pithead baths complex. In 1937 it became the first colliery to extract over one million tonnes of coal in a year. Following the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 there was further investment, most notably the introduction of mine cars and locomotive haulage in 1952. From the 1960s, however, production at the site fell and in the 1970s it was decided to work the remaining coal from Wolstanton Colliery. Production ceased in 1976 but the site was opened as a museum two years later. This ensured the survival of the buildings, but the museum closed due to financial difficulties in 1993 and the site has been largely unused since then.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is situated on the north-eastern outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, on the North Staffordshire Coalfield and five productive coal seams outcrop across the site. The monument includes the standing, buried and earthwork remains of what is effectively the southern half of this mid-C19 to late-C20 colliery. The area contains the greatest concentration of surviving buried archaeological remains of Chatterley Whitfield, a group of shafts and their heapsteads (buildings and works around a mine shaft), and the former railways sidings area where the graded coal was loaded onto wagons for transportation.

DETAILS The structures associated with Platt, Institute, Middle and Engine Pits are situated on a raised platform that is orientated north-east to south-west and falls away at its east end. There is a revetment wall of stone rubble and brick to its north face, while the south side is marked by the retaining wall to the adjacent railway sidings and concrete reinforcing. To the north of the platform, a number of rail tracks survive, though some are partly covered over.

The extant structures at PLATT SHAFT include the headgear (2), probably early C20, and a winding house (1) of 1883. The headgear consists of composite box sections with flat-section cross bracings and lattice struts, and it is clad in steel-plate sheeting except for the two back-stay inclined legs. To the north-east and south-west sides of the headgear are steel-clad porches which serve as entrance and exit chambers to the shaft. The adjacent single-storey winding house is partly built into a bank of made-up ground which forms a platform for the headgear and shaft. It is built of brick and has round-arched openings, some in modified openings. In the apex of the north-east gable wall is the date '1883' in raised brickwork. Internally, the concrete first floor appears to form part of the foundation for the winding gear, and the steel roof trusses incorporate runway lifting beams. The original steam engine has been removed and the building now contains a restored, twin cylinder steam haulage engine by Warners of Hanley which dates from c 1865 and was brought here from Silverdale Colliery in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Buried remains associated with the former fan house and steam-haulage engine house of Platt Shaft which were demolished in 1967 are considered to survive in the vicinity of the winding house.

South-east of Platt is INSTITUTE SHAFT which has an exposed lattice girder headgear (10) of c.1911 which raised the two cages. The tower above the shaft is encased in plated steel and an upper platform supports the winding gear. A separate steel frame, possibly of more recent construction, alongside and to the south-west of the plated tower supports a high-level platform; there is a second steel frame to the north-west side. There is a small brick entrance lobby to the south-west. The three-storey winding house (26) to the south-west was constructed in the 1960s and replaced an earlier stone-built one which was demolished in 1952. It has a steel frame, with brick to the upper storeys and a reinforced concrete substructure. Internally, the walls are faced with glazed or painted bricks and there is an overhead crane gantry. It has a geared parallel drum winder; the mechanical parts by Robey of Lincoln and the AC electric motor (vandalised and stripped down) and control gear by Metro-Vickers. Although the engine house dates from c.1960, the engine may be older, possibly obtained second-hand from another colliery since engines of this type were common in the 1940s. The braking system, oil-operated callipers possibly date from post-1973. In the basement are a pump and a steel pipe ring main circuit to a heat exchanger. The remains of earlier structures associated with Institute shaft, including its original winding house, together with a briquette-making plant and a series of eight boilers which were situated to the north and north-east of the shaft, may survive as buried features.

MIDDLE PIT is situated to the south-east. Its headgear and other buildings have been demolished and the shaft has been capped, but the location of the latter is marked by a methane ventilation pipe, and there is a concrete plinth to the north-east of the shaft. Immediately to the east is a late-C20 building (32) of blockwork with a brick facing which contains a winding or haulage engine brought from elsewhere. It was built by the museum as a replica of a winding house and is not included in the scheduling. There is also no surface evidence for any of the buildings relating to ENGINE PIT which was situated to the south-west. Their buried remains, however, are likely to survive in this area.

The WINSTANLEY HEAPSTEAD (5) of 1913-14 is a substantial brick structure which comprises a brick tower that supports and encases the headgear and a two-storey winding house. The two parts of the building are connected via an open concrete floor slab at first-floor level with open-arched masonry side walls. This was originally roofed over, but the roof has been removed and the side walls have been lowered. The building has timber doors, metal-framed windows set in rendered surrounds, some with brick relieving arches and concrete balconies. It was fitted with ‘a 12ft Schiele-type fan driven by a pair of 28" x 36" horizontal engines'; the fan and silencer remain in situ. The electric winding engine, which replaced a steam winder, is situated on the first floor. It is a relatively small, geared parallel drum winder; the mechanical parts by Tinsley of Darlington, and the electric motor and control gear by Metro-Vickers. The operating manual states that the engine dates from 1967, but this may refer to the date it was installed in the heapstead since this type of engine was developed in the 1930s and 1940s. The headgear is steel.

The RAILWAY SIDINGS area is situated immediately to the south of the linear grouping of shafts and survives as a wide, deep cutting with retaining walls along its north and south sides and rail racks in situ. Both walls show clear evidence for various phases of construction and repair. The southern retaining wall is mostly of brick, including a section of large format bricks, though its south-east end is concrete blockwork. It varies in height along its length, from 2.5m up to 6m in places. The north wall is also brick, though there are some areas of reinforced concrete and it has been rendered with concrete in places. Both walls contain a large number of openings (most now blocked) which include coal drops, chutes and access tunnels. Steelwork and metal pipes also protrude from the brickwork. From at least the 1880s the sidings were crossed by a number of bridges, many carrying rails, which provided access to the southern part of the site. The two surviving bridges are steel-framed and braced concrete structures with brick infill panels and they carry concrete decks between vertical abutments on either side of the cutting. They both have a lower-level deck along part of their length which originally contained conveyor equipment, and are surmounted by steel railings. In the area to the south of the sidings are further rail tracks, the remains of the C19 spoil tip, several steel-framed and brick structures, and a number of concrete plinths and these are also included in the scheduling

At the south-west corner of the site is a late-C19 pond (138), one of two originally in this area, the other having been infilled, and these were part of a complex pumping system employed at the colliery. A small pump house (23), close to Winstanley shaft, and not included in the scheduling, piped some of the excess water not used in the washery from the underground workings to the pond prior to it being released into the water course or draining away.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The monument boundary has been drawn to include the area which contains the greatest concentration of buried archaeological deposits associated with some of the earliest working of the colliery, as well as buried features associated with later colliery buildings that are known to have formerly occupied this area. In addition, it includes a significant group of mine shafts and their associated surface structures which formed the focus of mining activities from the late C19 onwards and the railway sidings area and its retaining walls. Although the buried remains of other demolished structures are likely to survive elsewhere across the colliery complex, these are generally more dispersed in nature and not considered to, therefore, merit scheduling.

EXCLUSIONS The late-C20 rebuilt Middle Pit winding house (32) and small brick building (129) immediately to the east, together with the pump house (23), methane store (25) and its chimneystack (137) and a small workshop (34) in the south-western part of the site are excluded from the scheduling. Other exclusions include the Grade II* listed tub hall, the re-erected winding wheel (124) to the south-east of Platt winding house, and the surfaces of all roads and paths. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included in the scheduling.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Jack, W, A Short History of Railway Developments at Chatterley Whitfield, (1977)
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Railway Sidings Area. Preliminary Desk Study & Site Visit of Structural Inspection, February 2007, Wardell Armstrong.,
Chatterley Whitfield Condition Survey, Condition Report, WS Atkins Consultants Ltd, 2001,
Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum. A Guide to the Colliery and its History. Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum, 1981


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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