On the Surface

Not all men who worked at Kiveton Park and Waleswood Collieries worked underground. Lots of different jobs had to be done on the surface and a job above ground meant dependable local work, without the likely maladies and dangers of working underground. Working on the pit top, things weren’t entirely different from working anywhere else, in other industries, although some jobs were specific to the coal industry. The landscape of the pit top was very different too – the pit tips, which could be very dangerous and proved fatal in at least one accident at Kiveton, were like huge towering alien sand dunes.

The pit yard, ‘mucky and horrible’ according to one visitor, also bore all the signs of being a pit. There are few industrial plants in Britain which had such a hotchpotch and mismatch of buildings as the country’s collieries – building were put up at a whim, partly torn down, new ones squeezed in, temporary huts became permanent – and Kiveton was no different.

Pit screens could be heard all over Kiveton and Wales, rattling away sorting coal. Even as the years advanced, and the Coal Preparation Plant was built at Kiveton, it was still one of the noisiest buildings at the pit. It was also one of the toughest jobs to do, and, according to a number of reports, was considered harder than working underground. Even before the shafts were first sunk, an army of blacksmiths, engineers and others were needed. This remained the case throughout the pit’s existence. As the number of face workers required lessened, the number of support workers increased, many of whom were above ground.

Boilers to be kept in working order. Tom Batty remembers how the engines gleamed when he first started work at the pit. One man was employed just to keep the engines glistening clean. The powerhouse was an immense building that survived until the end.

Blacksmiths and engineers kept machinery working. There was a special tub-shop, shown in photos here, which repaired tubs as they were broken or worn. Prior to the drifts, tubs were everything to the pit and they had to be kept in working order.

As coal came from the pit, totals and tubs had to be checked, which was the job of the checkweighmen, such as friends Mr Blackwell and Mr Bland in the 1920s and 1930s – this photo shows their daughters.

One of the factors that led to the positioning of both pits was the nearby railways, from where coal could be easily transported. The immense number of siding demanded men to work them and the shunting engines. These photographs show Kiveton and Waleswood engines with their nameplates showing which.