Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Coalite Plant, Bolsover, Derbyshire, September 2019

  1. #1
    Join Date
    January 2013
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.

    Default Coalite Plant, Bolsover, Derbyshire, September 2019

    1. The History
    Close to Junction 29A of the M1, near Bolsover, the former Coalite site covers a huge 120 acres. Coalite is a brand of low-temperature coke used as a smokeless fuel. The title refers to the residue left behind when coal is carbonised at 640 degrees C and the fact it lighter than coal. It was invented by Thomas Parker in 1904. It was popular as domestic use due to its attractive flame. The downsides are that is burns quickly, it produces a lot of ash and gives of sulphurous fumes. Two years after Thomas Parker died in 1915, the forerunner of the Coalite company was formed with the building of a production unit at Barugh near Barnsley. Then in the 1920s, two more plants at Askern (near Doncaster) and at East Greenwich (in London) were opened.

    In 1936 the Smoke Abatement Society awarded its inventor a posthumous gold medal. In April 1937, the main manufacturing plant at Buttermilk Lane, Bolsover in Derbyshire was opened by Prince George, Duke of Kent. Back in the day it was the largest one of its type in the world. By that time Coalite had a group of companies with Derbyshire Coalite Co.Ltd running the solid fuel production at Bolsover. Coal was delivered by rail to the site from the nearby Bolsover colliery.

    Picture of the plant from the 1930s:

    Coalite by HughieDW, on Flickr

    By 1939, the company was also producing a low-octane petrol called "Coalene" in addition to diesel and other fuel oils. It was a key supplier to both the army and navy during World War II. Post-war, in 1952 the Head Office address was moved from London to Bolsover. In 1956, after the introduction of the Clean Air Act 1956 Coalite was licensed as an "authorised fuel" and demand increased, and the company expanded accordingly. Additionally, in the 1950s, Coalite’s older plants were closed and production concentrated at the expanded Bolsover and Askern plants. The coal oil and liquor from all these plants was processed at the central refinery at the Bolsover plant. At its peak, in 1972, the Bolsover site employed 1,200 people.

    Old Coalite advert:

    2019-09-26_10-02-09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    In 1986 the group acquired Hargreaves Fuel distribution services creating a very diverse and with many subsidiaries that were unrelated to its core business (including sheep farming!). Their profile was further raised by sponsoring Chesterfield FC. The solid-fuel side of the business began to shrink (as it lost out to cheaper natural gas) in the 1980s and the company was taken over by Anglo United in 1989. During the 1990s there were financial difficulties. This was down to the relatively small Anglo United had borrowed heavily (from HSBC) to buy the much larger Coalite group. The intention had been to service this debt by asset stripping Coalite's many subsidiaries. However, the sell-off did not realise as much cash as expected and even a raid on the company pension fund did little to reduce the debt. Deprived of critical investment funds, by the late 90s it was making losses of £2 million per annum. The adverse publicity over land and river pollution further adversely affected the sales of its products.

    In 2002, Anglo was bought by a consortium. They duly transferred all the group’s debt over to Coalite and the company then went into receivership. The ovens continued producing Coalite until the Bolsover works finally closed down in 2004. It first went into administration and then receivership, leaving a considerable number of redundant employees with much reduced pensions. From 2005 the Bolsover works were gradually cleared, and the buildings demolished. Bolsover Land Ltd bought the land in 2012 with an aim to both regenerate a large contaminated brownfield site and to help reduce the pressure on the protected north Derbyshire green belt. From November 2016, decontamination of the area began. In the same year it was reported that more than 650 new homes could be built, and 1,500 jobs created under an exciting masterplan for the derelict Coalite site. Bolsover District Council also granted outline planning permission to develop 31 hectares of the site for general industrial purposes and warehousing. Subsequently nothing materialised and the site still remained a sprawling empty industrial wasteland.

    Bolsover Land Limited, a joint venture between and DSM Group and Marcol Industrial, backed by Derbyshire County Council, had plans to bring the former chemical plant back into use. Initial costs for the development had been £23 million. However in July 2019 new broke that HS2 will cut straight through the site resulting in no homes being built. Instead, the site would now only offer warehouse space for new businesses, with work not starting until next year and will not be completed until 2024.

    2. The Explore
    If you search 28DL you’ll see quite a few reports on the site circa 2006 onwards when the works had been closed down but not yet demo’ed. Understandably the reports dried up once the majority of the site had been demoed and the place pretty much forgotten about. Recently having passed the site will on my way to another place I latterly searched GoogleMaps and spotted parts of the works that appear to sit be in situ. Hence early one Autumn morning I took the short drive over there. It was a very easy in and it didn’t take long for me to find the two bits of the site still remaining – the water supply works by the river Doe Lea and some oil storage tanks. Only representing a fraction of this massive site, it certainly merited an hours mooch. This has more so been made the case by the vast amounts of lovely graff work by two of my fave artists Brayk and Colorquix.

    Word of caution though. Don’t walk between the two storage tanks. Got my walking boots covered in some for of crude oil stuff and despite washing them had to bin them!

    3. The Pictures

    First up is what appears to be some sort of weigh-bridge area:

    Coalite 20 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 22 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 25 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Then it’s on to the waterworks bit. And greeted by some lovely Brayk:

    Coalite 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 28 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 27 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 26 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Loads of Colorquix:

    Coalite 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This looks like some sort of cooling-frame?

    Coalite 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3164 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3165 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Brayk flaunting it:

    img3161 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Then it’s onto the oil storage area:

    img3175 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Not too sure what this piece of machinery did:

    Coalite 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    One of my fave bits of graff:

    Coalite 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Almost too much lovely graff to take in:

    img3197 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Gotta love Colorquix:

    img3178 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Some serious interconnecting pipeage:

    Coalite 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3190 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    This is the oil marsh to avoid!

    img3183 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3200 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And, finally, the tower of doom! Did I climb it? Nope. Chickened out. I know…

    img3211 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3212 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img3215 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Coalite 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Finally, finally, spare a thought for those that never made it out…

    img3219 by HughieDW, on Flickr

  2. Thanks given by: Andymacg, etc100, Hugh Jorgan, jcnw27060, KJurbex, krela, ocelot397, One eyed Spaniel, risingdamp, The Archivist, thorfrun
  4. #2
    Join Date
    January 2013


    I see the girl graffiti in quite a lot of places; does anyone know the story behind it?

  5. #3
    Join Date
    September 2005
    Bristol, UK.


    Quote Originally Posted by ocelot397 View Post
    I see the girl graffiti in quite a lot of places; does anyone know the story behind it?

Similar Threads

  1. Recycling Plant, Worthing - May 2019
    By KJurbex in forum Industrial Sites
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10th Sep 19, 18:39
  2. Coalite Chemicals Chesterfield Shuttlewood September 2014
    By lonewolf in forum Industrial Sites
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 13th Sep 16, 17:38
  3. Coalite Plant, Bolsover - June 2013
    By simondjuk in forum Industrial Sites
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 20th Jun 13, 13:48
  4. Coalite, Bolsover, Derbyshire - May 2010
    By ThenewMendoza in forum Industrial Sites
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 6th Jun 10, 16:21
  5. Limestone Treatment Plant? - Matlock, Derbyshire - May 09
    By james.s in forum Industrial Sites
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 4th Jun 09, 20:38

About us
DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of disused, derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
Follow us