mining - colliery closed


Wistow Colliery, which holds the UK record for coal mined in one week — 200,743 tonnes in 1995 — is now shut. Part of the Selby Complex closed on Friday 14 May 2004, the colliery's record will never be surpassed as there will be no coal industry to challenge it.There were 500 miners in 1995, and the 40 left today will work rescuing coal-cutting equipment before the pit is finally abandoned. The equipment will probably be sold to foreign competitors or for scrap and the last giant lump of coal will be for museum display as forecast by the National Union of Mineworkers less than four years ago. Yet demand for coal is at its highest for several years - 'fuelled' by foreign imports.

Up Sticks and a Job for Life, produced by the Selby Coalfield Communities, is a new book that records, with insight, sadness and deep class resentment the creation and then destruction of the jewel in the crown of British coal and its strong community. One contributor says: "The Selby pits were architect-designed and distinctive [and] covered 110 square miles — an area the size of the Isle of Wight." Another reflects on the feeling of family generated when whole communities worked in the same pit (Wistow): "We once contributed £20 a head for a lad who needed help with cancer treatment. £100,000 was raised." Available from the Selby Times, 01757 702802, £11.49p inc postage