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Thread: Snowdown Colliery, Kent, Nov 2008

  1. #1
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    Default Snowdown Colliery, Kent, Nov 2008


    This is my very first report, I hope I have done the location justice and the you find it interesting.

    Snowdown Colliery, situated alongside the main Dover to Canterbury railway line, was begun by Arthur Burr’s Foncage Syndicate in 1907. The first shaft at Snowdown hit water at 260 ft and flooded and 22 men were drowned. There were few sinking problems after this and Snowdown became the first commercial pit in Kent, and the first coal was brought to the surface from a depth of 1370ft, on 19th November, 1912.

    Due to an act of Parliament in 1920, the Emergency Powers Bill, which temporarily increased wages for six months, in 1921 miners at Snowdown went on strike over the ensuing reduced pay and the company went into receivership.

    They closed the colliery in 1922 but maintained pumping operations so it could be sold as a working mine. The colliery was mothballed for almost two years before it was purchased in 1924 by Pearson & Dorman Long who had started a new colliery at Betteshanger. They completely modernised the colliery, scrapping the old steam winding plant and installing a powerful electric one.

    Snowdown was the deepest colliery in Kent reaching well over 3,000 ft (915 metres). It was also the hottest and most humid pit in Kent and was given the name 'Dante's Inferno' by the miners. Regarded by many as the worst pit to work at in Britain, most Snowdown miners worked naked because clothes became too uncomfortable. The miners could consume around 24 pints (14 lires) of water in an 8-hour shift.

    Snowdown closed in 1987



    The pit head and machinery has long since gone, but there are still a number of brick buildings standing which nature is doing her best to reclaim.







    Despite the fact that it was an industrial site, the brickwork has great detail and form.



    I found this circular brickwork fascinating, and there was a mirror image of it behind this one.


    Due to the inaccessability of individual buildings, what little original metalwork remained was difficult to photograph.




    I easily located each of the three capped shafts, which give interesting facts on metal plates sunk into the concrete.








    The unusually good weather on the day I went definitely helped the sky on the builing shots!









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  3. #2
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    Nice. :)

    There still seems to be lots left there. Did the gantry crane work?

    Colliery owners often made their buildings with ornate brickwork. More often than not though it was to increase strength where needed. The two circles on the walls are where a huge ventilation fan (or two) would have been located.
    The metal girders part way down would have had bearing mounts bolted on which supported the fan.

    I have never seen a shaft capped with extra info such as depth and diameter. All we get in the North East is "old shaft" if they are capped. Many others I know have large vent tubes above them with monitors nearby reading the gas levels.

    Great first report with good photographs. Keep up the good work. :)

  4. #3
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    Thanks for the extra info, it all helps to add even more interest and it can be difficult to find specifics like that on the net.

    Around the site there were quite a few metal tubes which stood about a foot tall and maybe 6 inches in diameter. A circular metal, pivoting cap was labelled: 'Do not fill. Observation monitoring. Bore hole no. (blank)' Each was encased in a concrete base and I've been trying to work out what they were for. Best I could come up with was monitoring gas levels, maybe with an instrument which would have been lowered to check the readings.

    Any idea?

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    Thumbs up


    Excellent report and pictures :) Particularly like the capped shaft plates

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    Quote Originally Posted by rethmal View Post
    Thanks for the extra info, it all helps to add even more interest and it can be difficult to find specifics like that on the net.

    Around the site there were quite a few metal tubes which stood about a foot tall and maybe 6 inches in diameter. A circular metal, pivoting cap was labelled: 'Do not fill. Observation monitoring. Bore hole no. (blank)' Each was encased in a concrete base and I've been trying to work out what they were for. Best I could come up with was monitoring gas levels, maybe with an instrument which would have been lowered to check the readings.

    Any idea?
    They will be boreholes down to the workings below. I have seen several cases of these. One lot had actually been used to pump cement/concrete stuff into the workings to stabilise the ground for an industrial estate which was to be built above. It was a shallow pit though and quite close to the surface.
    The ones you show are more than likely to be for gas testing. Several would be drilled in a close proximity so that at least one would hit the "target" - usually an underground roadway.

    The ventilation we have here is because in certain atmospheric conditions gas escapes the underground workings. One instance I remember happened at Seaton Sluice, Northumberland. Gas escaped which was heavier than air. It proceeded to travel downhill to this village. The gas wasn't necessarily toxic but it replaced the oxygen at ankle height and put everyones pilot lights out on their gas boilers behind the fireplace. Leaking natural gas - methane - isn't very safe!

    Many collierys are interlinked underground so the quantities of gas can be huge. I'm sure I read somewhere that you could travel from Alnwick in Northumberland to Newcastle upon Tyne without coming to the surface.

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    Nice find and interesting story. Thanks for the photos
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    Brilliant to see more colliery relics. Read about this one a while back, the heat down there was insane.
    Good work man:)

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    Fabulous photos and info, rethmal. Very interesting site. And thanks Sausage, for the extra info. One of the many things I love about DP is how we all contribute to round out the knowledge about the places we love to explore and share. :) Good stuff!
    Last edited by Foxylady; 13th Nov 08 at 03:05.
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  10. #9
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    I agree whole heartedly with Foxylady. Viewing photo's of a location is interesting but with a bit of background knowledge and information they become so much more, so thanks again Sausage.

  11. #10
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    Excellent report and good pics too. I echo the comments about the value of background information.
    Forwards - in all directions!

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