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Hay Royds Colliery
Originally submitted by Alex Potts & later amended by Dave Douglass
Photographs by P R Deakin - Supplied by Gareth Rimmington

Hay Royds Colliery
Just three West Yorkshire Collieries have survived into this new millenium, HayRoyds is the smallest of them. Many people who live in the surrounding area around the pit might never be aware that it is there, despite the fact that the pit and its history are of great interest and importance to industrial history and sociology.


The colliery is situated on the road leading up to Wheatley Hill just south of Clayton West and a little east of Skelmanthorpe. Although geographically in West Yorkshire it is generally thought of as a Barnsley pit.

Established in 1908 the pit will be the oldest survivor once PontyPrince goes . Following the closure of others in the area like Denby Grange and Caphouse Hay Royds will be the last.

(Although caphouse remains as amining museum ) The pit escaped nationalisation probably because of its size and was operated by the Flack family as a private concern. This meant working under licence, not employing more than 50 men and not mining more than 100,000 tonnes per year. In a sense it is considered fortunate that the mine remained private, or else probably it would have been closed long ago by the NCB .Its survival ensures the continuation of employment but also mining as tradition in this area.

The pit has worked a number of seams including the Beeston and the Whynn Moor. The whole underground complex is accessed by twin drifts only, so has no winding gear. The drifts run under the road and then under Wheatley Hill farm. The access drifts give way to a four way junction which in turn lead on to the current workings in the Whynn Moor seam. Twenty two miners work here, using drill and blast methods to extract pillar and stall workings. The coal is undercut prior to boring and blasting. Basic underground loaders are then used to load coal into half tonne tubs, which are then wound to the surface by a rope haulage system. The average seam height of 1.2 meters in the Whynn Moor seam.

The mining technology employed here is similar to that of the Northumberland Blenkinsopp and Welsh Betws mines. A small but steady production rate of 36,000 tonnes is maintained at Hay Royds. At these rates of production coal is sold solely to the domestic market. The mine has full ventilation, consisting of a main fan in the drift tunnels, drawing fresh air down a ventilation shaft and several smaller fans at various points in the infrastructure. It is a feature which was often ignored in the smaller mines.


As the Whynn Moor seam is not currently worked at any remaining mine, and has never been worked at Caphouse or Denby Grange the mine would seem to have exclusive rights to this seam. Research has identified about 300,000 tonnes of reserves, albeit in small pockets underneath Denby dale. This area was once within the Denby Grange take. Accessing these reserves could provide working for nine years, depending on the economic viability of such a venture. It is not known how much coal is in the present seam being worked, or in other areas of the mine.

As the mines market is entirely for domestic use there is hope that this area of sale is the least likely to further decline, although as with all coal markets the threat of heavily subsidised imports is worrying.
A further sign that the mine does indeed have a viable long term future is that as of April 2000 the mine has received governments grants of £86,000, £164,000 and £200,000 ;such grants were established for UK pits with healthy long term prospects, to help through short terms market problems. David Flack the managing director of the mine, quoted in The Yorkshire Post said that such grants would be used for "improving technology" to help secure the long term future of the pit.

The biggest dark cloud on the horizon is the subject of insurance. At Betws mine insurance increased from £150,000 to £500,000 a year after a small underground fire. This led to many weeks of lost production and a similar small drift in North Derbyshire closed for good recently after a similar insurance problem. If Hay Ryods can find a way through the insurance problems, it should be able to keep going for at least a further five years.

Many thanks to Alex Potts and Gareth Rimmington for their help and for providing information and images for this article.

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