Chatterley Whitfield: pithead baths complex (18-21)


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


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Statutory Address:
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Biddulph Road, 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:


Pithead baths (18), canteen (19) and medical centre (20) of 1936-37 in a Modernist style by the Miners' Welfare Committee. Mid-C20 additions of a mine rescue centre (21) and a single-storey annexe, formerly a photographic laboratory.

Reasons for Designation

The former pithead baths and canteen complex, of 1936-7 with later additions, at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a very rare surviving example of the large-scale provision of welfare facilities for miners and as a product of the systematic programme of building pithead baths by the Miners Welfare Committee; * Architecture: a streamlined, modernistic composition of volumetric forms which express the building’s functional components; * Fixtures and fittings: the survival of vulnerable fittings such as lockers, shower cubicles, tiles and signage which offer an insight into the function of the various spaces; * Group value: its visual relationship with the Grade II listed office and laboratory building, lamp house and fitters' shop, and as a component of the country's best surviving collieries from the industry's period of peak production.


The coal seams in the Chatterley Whitfield area may have been worked from the medieval period but large-scale extraction began in the C19, particularly following the opening of the Biddulph Valley Railway line in the 1860s and the formation of Chatterley Whitfield Collieries Ltd in 1891. By the early C20 the mine workings were focussed around four shafts – known as the Engine Pit, Middle Pit, Institute Pit and Platt Pit. The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit. Soon after another new shaft was dug, the Hesketh Shaft constructed 1914-1917. This was designed to serve the much deeper coal seams below those worked by the other shafts. Following a contraction in production during the labour unrest of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s, there was renewed investment in the site including the mechanisation of underground haulage and the construction of new office accommodation and a pithead baths complex. In 1937 the colliery became the first 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, which included the construction of a surface mine car circuit to allow the circulation of tubs from the pithead to the washery and back again. From the 1960s production at the site fell and in the 1970s it was decided to work the remaining coal from Wolstanton Colliery. Production ceased in 1976 and the site opened as a mining museum in 1979. This ensured the survival of the buildings, but the museum closed due to financial difficulties in 1993 and the site has been unused since then.

Although provision for pithead baths was advocated by Royal Commission mining reports of 1907 and 1919, only around thirty had been constructed in Britain by the late Twenties. The Miners' Welfare Committee (MWC) was formed in 1921 to administer the Miner’s Welfare Fund which was established the previous year; one of its principal objectives being the provision of pithead baths. In 1937 £657,690, two thirds of the total grants from the fund for that year, was allocated to the construction of such buildings. By the end of that year, 208 baths had been completed providing facilities for nearly 275,000 miners, and a further 70 baths were under construction.

The pithead baths (18) at Chatterley Whitfield was constructed in 1936-37 at a cost of £36,000. Prior to its construction there were no washing facilities of any description at Chatterley Whitfield. When built, it was the second largest pithead baths in the country, providing accommodation for over 3,000 men. It opened in January 1938 and was described as 'undoubtedly the finest of their kind in the country'. There were three distinct but inter-connected zones to the first floor: the clean locker area where miners would leave their home clothes, the area containing dirty lockers where pit clothes were stored, and thirdly the shower area. The locker areas are said to have each contained 3,817 lockers, a number of which survive. The ground floor provided offices and laboratories, and also contained a canteen (19) and a medical centre (20). The three-storey tower at the west end of the baths acted as a calorifier (storage vessel with the capacity to generate heat within a mass of stored water) at ground and first floors, and as a plenum chamber (part of the heating and ventilation system) above. The canteen was extended with a 'feeding centre' circa 1950, though this was subsequently converted to a mine rescue station for disaster management, and a noise laboratory was added at the west end of the complex. Part of the pithead baths complex was used for storage and visitor accommodation during the tenure of the mining museum in the late C20.


Pithead baths (18), canteen (19) and medical centre (20) of 1936-37 in a Modernist style by the Miners' Welfare Committee. Mid-C20 additions of a mine rescue centre (21) and single-storey annexe, formerly a photographic laboratory.

MATERIALS: a reinforced concrete frame encased in red brick with an internal facing of brick and blockwork. Parapets in decorative brickwork with concrete copings, and a concrete cantilevered overhang to some single-storey areas. The flat roofs are concrete and bitumen felted and there are pitched, steel-framed rooflights.

PLAN: irregular L-shaped plan with a single-storey range to the west. The building is principally of two storeys with a three-storey tower and a single-storey entrance range (south) which also housed the canteen and medical centre.

EXTERIOR: the south elevation comprises a single-storey entrance range with the canteen to the right having a curved end to its east end which incorporates five four-light windows with metal frames. To the left of the entrance this range has a continuous window of four bays with a different glazing pattern. Behind the entrance is the two-storey pithead baths which extends northwards. Its south elevation has a tall stair window of three lights at first-floor level, the mullions of the windows expressed in brick within a recessed brick panel from above the window head to the wall top. This range doubles in width at the rear of the entrance bay, and then extends eastwards at two-storey height, terminating at a three-storey, square tower which stands forward of the main range. There is a tall transomed window extending almost the full height of the east side wall of the tower. An L- shaped single-storey range, formerly darkroom facilities for the colliery laboratory, extends westwards and is lit by metal-framed top-hung casements. An L- shaped single-storey range, formerly darkroom facilities for the colliery laboratory, extends westwards and is lit by metal-framed top-hung casements. Attached to the north-east corner of the canteen is the mine rescue centre of 1950.

INTERIOR: the entrance hall is partly clad in grey glazed tiles and a wall plaque commemorates the construction of the building. Doorways to the left and right lead to the former first-aid centre and canteen respectively. The canteen has a serving counter running almost the length of the room and a suspended ceiling. There are staircases of reinforced concrete at each end of the two-storey pithead baths which have brick-faced stairwells and lower walls faced with grey glazed tiles. In the lobby by the south staircase are three wall-mounted drinking fountains. The ground floor of the baths has a spine corridor with rooms, formed by blockwork and glazed partitions, leading off it. Its first floor is divided into three principal areas, with two retaining shower stalls and some of double-tiered slatted steel lockers. The shower area has walls clad in white tiles and is divided into blocks of shower cubicles, each denoted by different coloured tiles. Many of the stalls retain their metal coat hooks, but the shower heads and associated pipework are gone. There is also the shower attendants' office which has a window hatch and retains its key cabinet. The mine rescue centre was not inspected internally (2013).


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Pithead Baths , accessed from
Chatterley Whitfield Condition Survey, Condition Report, WS Atkins Consultants Ltd, 2001,
Chatterley Whitfield, Stoke-on-Trent, Visual Structural Condition Report of Building 18, 19, 20 and 21, Atkins Ltd, 2007,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 16 Aug 2001
Reference: IOE01/04625/07
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Clive Shenton. Source Historic England Archive
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