Mansfield (Crown Farm) Colliery

Early photo
PC Sherwood Photo Co
Bolsover Colliery Logo
Miners travelling to work
Underground Stables
Coal Production
Pit Head Baths

A Brief Look at Mansfield Colliery

The Beginning

The Bolsover Colliery Company  was established in 1889 to mine coal. It sank its first two pits in Derbyshire with coal being reached at Bolsover in September 1891 and Cresswell in February 1896. The Company then sank its third pit at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Sinking began in February 1904, and coal was reached in May 1905. The seam of workable coal known as the Top Hard Seam was 5′ 4″ thick and reached at a depth of 544 yards.


This colliery was officially named Mansfield Colliery but because of its close proximity to a local farm called Crown Farm, it soon became known as Crown Farm Colliery or Crownie.

To accommodate the initial workforce the new village of Forest Town was built, this provided housing, shops, a school, religious establishments, and social facilities etc.


As the colliery grew both in size, and coal production over the years, the workforce also increased and miners travelled from a wider area to work at Mansfield Colliery. In the early years miners would walk to work, go by cycle (a cycle store that would accommodate 150 cycles was provided by the company), others would travel by tram.


A report in the Courier Newspaper 1910, said there were four sets of underground stables at Mansfield Colliery that accommodated 120 ponies which received every care and attention. Cleanliness was an outstanding feature. A number of years later in 1936 H. W. Carter (Manager) reported ‘it had not been possible during the year to reduce the number of ponies below ten’.

Initially coal was wound from the mine in small tubs, but after the reorganisation of the shaft bottom in 1947, skip winding was introduced.



For over 20 years miners went home in their ‘pit muck’, this all changed when in 1936 the Pit Head Baths were built and opened. These had a bay with lockers for clean clothes, and another bay for ‘mucky’ ones. Shower cubicles were in the centre of the building. H.W. Carter (Manager)in a report dated 1936, said the Pit Head Baths were a great success and highly appreciated. He also stated that the Canteen opened in connection with the baths was a great boon, and that the men appeared to enjoy the opportunity for light refreshments after a bath.

Before Nationalisation in 1947 miners had to provide their own working clothes.


Over the years many changes took place at the colliery, both to increase production and also to improve safety and working conditions. At one time Mansfield Colliery was the largest coal-producing mine in the country.




1904 Shafts Sunk to Top Hard

1905 Coal Reached

1923 Coal Cutters introduced

1930 Hazel Seam Developing

1931 Single Shift Working

1932 Fully Mechanised Units Working in High Hazel Seam

1933 Drift Connecting High Hazel and Top Hard

1935 Conveyors Introduced

1936 New Washery

1936 Pit Head Baths & Canteen Opened

1940 Exploration of Lower Seam

1941 Exploration of Lower Seam

1942 Exploration of Lower Seam

1944 Major Re-organisation Scheme Commenced

1945 Details on Re-organisation Summary

1947 Skip Winding Introduced

1947  Nationalisation of the Coal Industry – Now The National Coal Board

1951 Steam Winders Replaced by Electric Equipment

1953 Coal Preparation Plant Installed

1957 Ventilation, Main Fan Installed

1960s Pit Head Baths Extended to Include New Boiler Plant

1960s New Canteen & Medical Centre

1965 Stores Building & Stockyard Established

1988 Colliery Closed After 83 Years. (When built the estimated life of the colliery was 50 years).

1989 Demolition and Filling of Shafts. The Headstocks Were Finally Pulled Down in June.

Acknowledgement – Information on Mansfield Colliery has been gathered over the years from many sources, people, and establishments – all are acknowledged. It is hoped the information displayed on these web pages will ensure the history of the colliery, and the people that worked there do not fade.

Comments about this page

  • I would love to know if anyone remembers Roy Devonshire?

    By HW (08/09/2023)
  • I remember my Dad working there during the Sixties and Seventies maybe longer, Jeff Hodgkinson. Son Richard, who had a terrible accident apparently. My brother Jeff went to Rufford later on. I did six months there too.

    By JT Hodgkinson (02/11/2022)
  • If I could leave a glimpse of mining life at Crownie please as we are a dwindling breed now.
    I started Crownie in 79 and left upon closure. I worked on the coal face/headings as a fitter. To be honest I’m writing this because mining history, real experience history will soon be lost as we pass away. Crownie was a good place to work with seams of different coal height and quality. High Hazel produced excellent house coal and was mixed with the lower grades from the Deep-Soft etc. to make it burnable in the power stations, but it had its challenges, it was low, so low that with a poor roof and dirt dropping into the chock crawl way you had to go on your belly. Mostly in good conditions you went on your hands and knees, yes, the face lads worked all shift, all week on their hands and knees and many times in water too. Most faces were around 200 yards long.
    I saw Des Hunson carried out after being fatally injured. Yes, should you make a mistake, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time by an act of fate you could lose your life or limbs very easily. Dust, it was not only coal dust, but seams of coal also had seams of hard stone within them in places. Cutting this produced so much dust you could not see. Remember dust masks were not available until the mid 80s approx.
    We had no toilets (people find this difficult to believe) and no washing facilities, you had what you took down with you, and maybe one of the lads would take a pineapple, this happened at Christmas, the aroma of cutting them I still remember to this day. Down the mine the aroma was like heaven. But this was how we worked, we were a team, we relied on each other. Sometime your shift would mean a long walk should the paddy breakdown, the pit bottom was miles away from some faces like 71s.
    How many youngsters now would opt for that working life?? Bad air, hazardous environment, pitch black apart from your one head lamp, working on your hands and knees with equipment that could chew you up without even noticing, a tiny bit of roof fall on your gloved finger could mean you lost it. But, again it had a job for everyone and provided a warm home also.
    I look back now and see good times and even better friends, God Bless you all.

    By David Fell (22/10/2022)
  • Any one remember the shift times at Crownie? My Dad worked at Crownie in 1955, he worked the night shift on the day I was born at Victoria Hospital. anyone know the time he would have finished the shift ?.

    By Kev Spalding (31/08/2022)
  • ‘I knew a Mick Pye his mother had a shop on Littleworth in Mansfield’

    John Shaw

    By John Shaw (01/11/2021)
  • I’m looking to find out any info about my father, Michael Pye, who worked in one of the Mansfield collieries in the 1960s. He was a mechanical engineer.

    By Ruth Sullivan (11/09/2021)
  • Hello Simon
    I can’t remember you, but I worked on 71’s in the mid 80’s in the supply gate stable hole with Billy Ellis. Little Jimmy was in the pack hole with Frankie Walsh, Pete Middleton and Taffy who were rippers in the supply gate, and Mick was the shot firer for a time.
    Hard graft but lots of jokes & laughs along the way.
    Taffy died last year in his 90’s and I think most if not all of ’em are gone now.

    By John (08/12/2020)
  • Does anyone remember my late father Peter Hedgecock, a mechanical engineer who left to become Unit Engineer at Blidworth in 1964?

    By Andy Hedgecock (09/11/2020)
  • I worked at Crownie for a few years in the early 80s. I worked on 71s in the High Hazels, 137s in the Deep Soft and in the low main headings.
    I was a management trainee so did a lot of different jobs as part of my training.
    Very proud to have worked there, it was an incredible experience.

    By Simon Wild (09/06/2020)
  • Hi I wonder if anyone knew John Leatherland who worked on the locomotives down the pits?



    By frances (30/11/2016)
  • Re the above query on date of electrification of steam winders, I have checked the records I have and a NCB report in May 1956 states ‘ A major reorganisation scheme was begun in December 1944, and came into operation as shown below:- Skip Winding, Locomotive Haulage with 3½ ton Mine Cars..May 1947 Electric Winders..July 1951 Coal Plant Preperation..May 1953 This infomation is given in more tham one document I have. Pauline M.

    By Pauline Marples (31/12/2012)
  • I would like to question the date for the electrification of the steam winders as I have a very clear memory of hearing the steam winders working when I visited my Aunty in Forest Town in the 60s. You could hear the steam engine labour on start up running to the mid point and then free wheeling to a stop. When I visited Sherwood Colliery in the late 70s they were still using the steam engine and the operation sounded exactly the same. If the electrification info is correct can anyone provide an explaination as to what I was hearing.

    By Joe (26/12/2012)

    By MR ATHOLSTONE CLARKE (12/07/2010)

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