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Monument Pit



Along with Phoenix Colliery, this antiquated pit forms a unique pair of surviving full-time Free Mines . The pit is known locally as 'the Monument'. It sits in a very isolated pine forest called BixSlade, ¼ mile west of the B4234 road, and on the western Edge of the Forest Of Dean. Apart from being one of the very last pits in Britain to still employ Victorian mining methods, Monument has other fascinating, unique characteristics. Until 2000 it was the second last mine in Britain to employ just one man. The pit represents the last working coal-mine gantry in the country, the railway gauge being 1ft 8 in.


Contrary to common belief, Monument is not the same mine as the Union Colliery in which an accident of 1902 claimed the lives of three men. These workings have in fact, a surprisingly short history. Gerald Haynes,a local free miner first started the colliery in 1980 and unlike most modern Free Mines, began the mine drift completely from scratch, insteadof utilising old mine drifts. At the time it was the first completely
new mine to be dug in the forest for many years, and given the present situation will probably be the last. Under Haynes ownership the mine was named Hayners Bailey mine. For the next twenty years he worked the mine completely alone. Following the repeal of the Free Miners rights in 1994, we are told that the pit became a storm centre for political debate, as MPs tried to convince the Tory Government of the need to
restore the rights. This led to parliamentary visits to the mine by Government officials to view the mine in action.

Despite the Governments hostility and determination to close the Forest mines, work at the pit continued. A new haulage engine was installed in 1995 made by Peckett and Anderson Ltd of Glasgow. The following year 1996 Gerald Haynes and his mine were featured on the BBC programme Country File as one of the very last Dean mines still in operation. Another development at the mine took place in the summer of the same year when the original drift entrance was reconstructed and the incline flattened. Another Tv program was made about the colliery in 1998, when a half hour episode of Chris Chapman on assignment filmed Mr Haynes at work in his mine.

Mr Haynes retirement from the pit in 2000 was a major blow that everyone had known was coming. This was felt not just in terms of mining traditions but also to the future of Haynes Bailey pit itself. The odds
were stacked against any possibility of the mine being taken over, but that in fact happened. Nervyn Bradley and Ray Ashley stepped in to save the pit. These two miners continued the pit as a full time concern and renamed it Monument mine in Autumn 2000.

The Present

The pit currently works the Yorkley Seam, with an average section of 2-3 feet. The levels of technology are ultra basic. An AB 15 coal cutter works back and forth along the Longwall face. The top 1-2 ft of coal is
then brought down with pneumatic picks. Only wooden props are used, cut from local forest timber. The coal is moved down the face by shovels, where it meets a chute and tub in the main haulage road. The loaded tubs are then wound out of the mine by the direct rope electric haulage engine, to the tippler screens at the surface.

Currently Mervyn Bradley and Ray Ashley work the mine all year, and they have recently been joined by a third miner. Their annual production is 400- 500 tonnes per annum. For the coal which is sold to households good money can be made. However small coal can only be sold to industry and commands only a much smaller rate of return.


Little data is available on coal reserves for mines of this size. Provided the Coal Authority remain lenient toward the Free Mines, there should be few problems in keeping the pit running in the near future,
assuming that coal prices remain stable, and that new men can be found to enter this hard way of making a living. Forest of Dean locals are proud of their free mining traditions and minersadvice would urge all our readers to buy their coal from the mines if they live locally and of course insist on British Coal from their merchants elsewhere.

(info thanks to Alex Potts)


Ayle - Betws - Blenkinsopp - Clipstone - Daw Mill - Ellington - Gleision - Harworth - Hatfield Main - Hay Royds
Hill Top - Kellingley - Longannet - Monument - Maltby -Phoenix and Hopewell - Prince of Wales - Rossington
The Free Miners - The Selby Complex - Thoresby -Thorne - Tower - Welbeck - The Nottingham Coalfield
Mining 2000 Conclusions