Local colliery named on Victorian Society’s top 10 at risk list

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A local colliery has been named by the Victorian Society as one of their top 10 “at risk” sites.

The Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, near Chell, has been named on the organisation’s 2019 list showcasing the most endangered buildings in the Britain.

Owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, the Chatterley Whitfield has buildings dating back to the 1880s, all of which are listed as or scheduled to be ancient monuments.

The colliery requires a predicted £25 million just to stop deterioration, without looking at the costings of a restoration project.

Nigel Bowers, the Chair and CEO of the Chatterley Whitfield Friends said that the listing was bittersweet: “It’s a strange area to be in because it gives us a negative look – it’s derelict, nothing is being spent on it. But the positive side it that it’s given us publicity.

Nigel Bowers (left) and Jim Worgan, Chatterley Whitfield Friends.

“The Chatterley Whitfield site is the only remaining site in the UK where all the buildings are still intact. Back during just before World War II it was the first mine anywhere in the UK to produce one million tonnes of saleable coal, worth roughly £54 million today.

“The Chatterley Whitfield should stay – it’s heritage, it’s a time capsule. We were the jewel of the North Staffordshire coal field when this was in operation. People talk about Stoke-on-Trent as the home of pottery, but The Potteries wouldn’t have existed without the coal.”

Jim Worgan, a founder and honorary member of the Chatterley Whitfield Friends, spoke proudly of the historical site: “We think it’s important to keep the spirit of coal-mining and its heritage in North Staffordshire alive and broadcasted. It is a site that should be very important to the nation.

“A lot of people will tell you that the pottery industry came to Stoke-on-Trent because of the clay, which is false. It came to Stoke-on-Trent because of the coal: you need five tons of coal to fire one ton of clay. It was the coal mining industry which led to the industrialization not only of North Staffordshire but of Great Britain.

“We hope to make the site a permanent reminder of the part coal played in the industrial history of North Staffordshire.”

Coal was last mined at the Chatterley Whitfield over 40 years ago and it became a mining museum for some time following the pit closure. The entire site has now been derelict, however, for nearly 30 years.

In September 2019, the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield opened the site up to the public and provided tours along a “safe route”, as well as an exhibition showcasing maps, documents, photographs and many other artefacts. The tickets for these tours were released in August and sold out in just 30 minutes.

The Chatterley Whitfield Friends are asking for support from their local communities to continue the work that they do – you can join their group for £5 per year on their website, and catch up with their progress via their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube pages.

The English Heritage site also recently featured on BBC One’s Inside Out on Monday 23rd September 2019.

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20-year-old Journalism student at Staffordshire University. Reporter for StaffsLIVE. Project Co-ordinator for the Staffordshire Youth Commission. Cheddleton Parish Councillor. Based in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

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