History of Chatterley Whitfield
Part Four: 1884 to 1920s
Much of the success of the recovery can be directly attributed to Edwards Brownfield Wain, who had been appointed Undermanager in 1882. He soon introduced the more productive longwall working of the coalfaces in place of the more traditional 'pillar and stall' system. He was appointed Colliery Manager in 1886 and by 1890 the Company was once more paying its way. In the same year, the liquidators came to an understanding with the North of England Trustee, Debenture and Assets Corporation Limited of Manchester, who agreed to purchase the Old Chatterley Iron Company.
The new Company became Chatterley Whitfield Collieries Limited and a great period of expansion began. So much so that by 1899 the colliery produced in excess of 950,000 tons of saleable coal. The fortunes of the Chatterley Iron Company began to decline as a result and operations at the Chatterley site had ceased by the early part of the 20th Century. The dawn of the 20th Century, however, promised a great future for Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. It is interesting to note, however, that in the 21st Century, many local people still refer to it by its old name of Whitfield Colliery.
The colliery continued to prosper but, following a minor explosion in 1912 which fortunately resulted in no fatalities, it became obvious that additional ventilation was required. It was therefore decided to sink a new ventilation shaft and work commenced in April 1913. The shaft was 5 yards in diameter and 700 feet deep. It was completed in 1914. The heapstead and winding engine house were constructed entirely of brick to a German design and is uniquein British coalmining. It is believed that the German construction workers were interned during the First World War.
The shaft was named after the Company's Mining Engineer, Mr Robert Winstanley. As a direct result, the Prince Albert shaft, located behind the present Hesketh Shaft, and the Engine Pit, located between the newly sunk Winstanley Shaft and the Middle Pit, were closed and filled.
The Winstanley shaft was barely finished when plans werre drawn up for a new deep shaft to maintain and operate the north and south Cockshead dips which in the Institute shaft had reached a length of 2092 yards from the pit bottom.
After much consideration, the new shaft was sunk to the east of the Platt shaft and preparatory work started in 1914. Shaft sinking commenced in June 1915 and was completed by May 1917 to a depth of 640 yards. It was named after Colonel George Hesketh who was the Chairman of the Board of Directors. A massive horizontal steam winding engine, which still exists, was installed by the Worsley Mesnes company of Manchester in the Winding Engine House to become one of the principal coal winding shaft. A new power house was also constructed as part of the complex. In 1923 the original paralle drum was replaced by a bi-cylindro drum which made the winding of coal much easier.