Book features Doncaster as it charts the history of Yorkshire collieries

Yorkshire Coalfield, Carcroft miners
Yorkshire Coalfield, Carcroft miners

A book co-written by a Doncaster historian, that commemorates the coal mining industry throughout Yorkshire at its height, has been well received.

Yorkshire Coalfield, by Doncaster bus driver Dave Fordham, and care assistant Christine Leveridge of Dewsbury , combines their collections of mining pictures and ephemera to produce a photographic record of what life was really like for those living and working in the Yorkshire Coalfield.

Authors of The Yorkshire Coalfield

Authors of The Yorkshire Coalfield

They pay their respects to the industry, depicting all aspects of the lives of miners and the strongly bound mining communities.

“Christine and I had known each other for many years as we are both collectors of old picture postcards, photographs and ephemera, and we met at an Antique and Collectors Fair,” explained Mr Fordham. 

“Recently we were both discussing the decline in the coal mining industry.

“I had previously written and self-published a series of books on some Doncaster Collieries and Christine had written a small book about her home town, and we decided to pool our resources into one large 160 A4 page book covering the whole county. 

Headgear at Hatfield Main Colliery

Headgear at Hatfield Main Colliery

“The book is in two main parts:part one covers the more historical formal stuff - sinking and building the pits, the colliery buildings etc., and part two covers an aspect that other authors had neglected - life in the mining community.

“We wanted to detail what life was actually like in the mining regions of the area, so we look at aspects of the housing and mining villages, the families, evictions during strikes, the pit disasters, rescue teams and leisure activities .

“So we feature a picture of miners playing the long lost game of 'knurr and spell' and one of 'Doncaster Josse' the knocker upper who gave his name to Jossey Lane in Bentley.

One of Christine's research projects is the 1912 Royal tour of Yorkshire, where King George V and Queen Mary visited Woodlands and Cadeby Colliery following the explosion which killed 91 men. 

Doncaster and district Miners' Rescue Station was on Wheatley Hall Road

Doncaster and district Miners' Rescue Station was on Wheatley Hall Road

“We wanted to commemorate the important contribution that Yorkshire coal mining made to the development of the country and we hope that this book will form a souvenir of that contribution, especially as virtually all traces of coal mining have now been removed and all that is left is grassed over spoil heaps and winding wheel monuments.

“Mining communities are sadly things of the past and we hope we have done them proud with this publication.”

The author added: “In 1913, there were 141,000 miners working in 398 pits in Yorkshire, producing nearly 49 million tons of coal per year.

“By 1925, following the opening out of the large pits around Doncaster, the number employed had risen to 200,000, making Yorkshire the largest coalfield in the country.

“The huge pits around Doncaster became household names, and the Doncaster pits, like Brodsworth, Bentley and Rossington etc., were each laid out with the capacity of producing 1,000,000 tons of coal per year, with a workforce of around 3,000 men.

“However, as the demand for coal declined during the latter half of the 20th century, many pits closed, and coal mining communities suffered from extreme hardship.

“In 2015, the last pit in the Doncaster area at Hatfield closed, bringing a sad end to the history of coal mining in Doncaster.”

The book features over 400 illustrations and is priced at £12.50.

It is available from the Doncaster Tourist Information Centre on High Street, or can be purchased online (at a cost of £15 including postage and packaging) by visiting www.fedjbooks.co.uk