The buildings at Whitfield Colliery represent a tiny proportion of the colliery's true size because, like most collieries, Whitfield extends a long way underground in all directions. It even joins up with the underground passages of Wolstanton colliery.
The surface buildings, however, are all that most people ever see of a colliery, and because the underground shafts at Whitfield are flooded, the buildings are all that remain to be seen. Nevertheless, this is a lot more than most collieries in the country, which have been completely flattened and replaced by housing developments or retail parks.
The only reason the surface buildings remain at Whitfield is that after the coliery shut down in 1976, the site operated as a mining museum, housing for a while the National Coalmining Collection. The museum closed in 1991, but soon afterwards, English Heritage declared it a Scheduled Ancient Monument to protect it from demolition.