LOUNT COLLIERIES 1920 -1968
OLD LOUNT COLLIERY 1920 - 1924
Little seems to be known locally about this colliery which was sunk in 1920, and closed in 1924. It was recorded as being sunk the year following the closure of the “Staunton / Newbold Glory / Worthington Colliery” referred to earlier. The author believes that this was the pilot mine for “New Lount Colliery, particularly as it eventually had the same owners – “Leicestershire Colliery and Pipe Company Ltd”. When it was first sunk, W J Hardy was given as the owner, and it changed hands to the “Leicestershire Colliery and Pipe Company Ltd” in 1922 of which Hardy was a director. J. Banborough, who was the manager of this colliery was transferred to New Lount as under manager, and he worked there from 1924 to 1933. The coal originally mined was “Middle Lount Seam” and there were three mine mouths. It was apparently abandoned when old mine works were met.
There is a record of a shaft being sunk in Newbold Spinney which was 30 metres deep and 2.7 metres diameter. In 1963, a 40 feet plus diameter hole opened up and was filled in. On the map in section 11, the approximate location of this shaft is marked C in Newbold Spinney. The author believes this was “Old Lount Colliery”. An air shaft is shown at B on the same map, but it is not known which pit this was associated with.
Apparently, the old locals referred to the field behind Newbold School as cylinder field, and it could have been associated with some form of cylinder engine used in association with the air shaft. Alternatively, the air shaft could have been connected with Cylinder Pit workings described previously.
NEW LOUNT COLLIERY 1924 - 1968
New Lount was the last traditional deep mine colliery in the local area, although it was the shallowest pit in the Leicestershire Coalfield. The owners were “The Leicestershire Colliery and Pipe Company Ltd”.
The site of the colliery was in the extreme north of the Leicestershire Coalfield, and initially comprised of some 775 acres in lease from Sir George Arthur Hamilton Beaumont, and 62½ acres of freehold owned by the company. This was extended by a further 695 acres leased from Earl Ferrers in 1929, and additional areas of Sir George Beaumont’s land in 1930 to the north and west, which consisted of 288 acres.
The main boundaries at this time were on the North and East - the “Thringstone Fault”, and on the North and North West - “Outcrops”. On the South, the arbitrary line between New Lount and Coleorton, approximately from Outwoods Farm to Springwood formed the boundary.
According to a brief official history given by the company, the sinking of the first shaft, No.1 (the downcast), was begun in March 1924. The second shaft, No.2 (the upcast), later called the “Jackie Pit”, which was the normal Leicestershire description for the upcast, was started in May 1924. The completion date of both shafts was end of September 1924. Unfortunately, the Coalville times issued on Sept 26th and Dec 26th 1924 gave different dates, however, it is assumed the companies official version to be the correct one.
Both shafts were 15 feet internal diameter and brick lined, and initially sunk to a depth of 225 feet, as far as the “Upper Roaster Coal Seam”. The official announcement of the start of coal turning at the pit was March 21st 1925. The winding engines for both were supplied by John Wood of Wigan. Below is a photograph of one of the winding engines in 1957.
It should be remembered that shortly after New Lount Colliery opened, the 1926 miners strike took place.
In 1926 there were 598 men (underground and surface) employed at New Lount, and by 1935 the number had reached 1035, by which time the annual output had reached 356,219 tons, the second largest output in the Leicestershire Coalfield.
Like all the numerous older pits in this area, there was large quantities of high quality stoneware clay to be had, for which there was a considerable demand in the manufacture of salt glazed sanitary pipes, which had been made locally for many years. Two local companies, “Lount Pipe Works” followed by “Newbold Pipe Works”, used the clay from New Lount. Newbold Pipeworks was also owned by The Leicestershire Colliery and Pipe Company, and the bulk of the clay went there by lorry. By May 1929, the latest dry cleaning plant and screen had been erected, and the two shafts were capable of raising 2,000 tons per day. Annual output was now 256,341 tons of coal and 31,851 tons of stoneware clay. By 1933, the clay output had dropped to 6,000 tons and clay production from New Lount Colliery ceased. At this point, it is worth mentioning that in 1930, the output of Leicestershire pits was 2.02 Million tons, against 45.9 Million tons for Yorkshire.
New Lount Colliery became known locally as “Clash”, and apparently this came from the fact that it was a very busy and productive colliery with many different projects undertaken, resulting in clashing of these taking place on a regular basis. Unlike Coleorton No.3. Colliery (Bug and Wink), there were no ponies used underground at New Lount, as mechanised haulage systems had been introduced by this time.
“Pillar and Stall” working was reportedly carried out at New Lount till c.1933, and prior to mechanised drilling of boring holes for explosives (electrical,hydraulic,compressed air leg) all holes had to be drilled by hand.
New Lount was the first colliery in the Leicestershire Coalfield to have pit head baths, and these were opened on July 12th 1930 by Frank Hodges, who at this time was not shown as being on the board of Directors at New Lount. However he was recorded in the press as officially being appointed Managing Director and Chairman in 1933.
In the first year following nationalisation, New Lount Colliery employed a total of 1,118 men (underground and surface) and turned 480,000 tons of coal. In 1953, a drift was driven from the site of the old Coleorton No.3. Colliery (Bug and Wink), and was about one mile South of New Lount. This had a gradient of 1 in 4, and provided a new ventilation circuit and an alternative emergency exit for New Lount. It was also used by the colliers who lived in the Coleorton locality to access New Lount on foot. By the mid 1950’s most of the faces at New Lount were mechanised, and by 1960, although the manpower had decreased, output was still over 400,000 tons per year.
THE IMPENDING CLOSURE OF NEW LOUNT COLLIERY
By 1963, most of the collieries output was being transported by road, and five special loading points had been installed under the screens to deal with this. In 1967 the output was 406,000 tons with a workforce now down to 590, of which only 443 men worked underground. The colliery had been profitable for its entire life, and in that year made £306,000 profit.
In 1968, the N.C.B. prepared a report on the future of New Lount. The "good news" section of the report noted that the colliery had been continuously successful for most of its life; the “bad news” stated that the current reserves of the thicker seams were being rapidly exhausted and so the fate of the colliery was sealed. New Lount officially closed July 26th 1968. Men under 55 were transferred to other collieries and men over 55 had two options, they could retire or transfer to another colliery if an over 55 man would retire there in their place. In 1968 there were 399 u/ground and 138 surface workers.
The sinking of New Lount colliery in 1924
Photo probably taken c.1930, based on the size of the Spoil Heap
Taken in the early 1960's from the pit yard showing head stocks, coal wagons and pit banks (spoil heaps). In the distance is the conveyor system which took the coal from all the seams to the screens.
Locos at New Lount - George Stevenson on the left and Thomas Hill Diesel No. 1. on the right, with the colliery in the background
Underground at New Lount from L to R – M.Richards, A. Conkay, T. Ralph, A. Sykes, P. Matchett. – Photograph taken 1965