Summary of Building Grade II* Listed
Pithead baths (18), canteen (19) and medical centre (20) of 1936-37 in a Modernist style by the Miners' Welfare Committee. Mid-C20 additions of a mine rescue centre (21) and a single-storey annexe, formerly a photographic laboratory.
Reasons for Designation
The former pithead baths and canteen complex, of 1936-7 with later additions, at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a very rare surviving example of the large-scale provision of welfare facilities for miners and as a product of the systematic programme of building pithead baths by the Miners Welfare Committee; * Architecture: a streamlined, modernistic composition of volumetric forms which express the building’s functional components; * Fixtures and fittings: the survival of vulnerable fittings such as lockers, shower cubicles, tiles and signage which offer an insight into the function of the various spaces; * Group value: its visual relationship with the Grade II listed office and laboratory building, lamp house and fitters' shop, and as a component of the country's best surviving collieries from the industry's period of peak production.
The pithead baths and canteen building at Chatterley Whitfield colliery were constructed between 1936-7 with red brick walls and flat concrete roofs. The building is of an irregular 'L' shaped plan, principally of one and two storeys. The canteen entrance is on the single storey south elevation. The canteen entrance was formerly the 'Clean Entrance' leading to the clean lockers where miners would leave their home clothes prior to collecting their pit gear from the dirty lockers. The interior has been much altered, but an extensive area of shower and locker storage has survived, including the shower attendants' office. From 1979, until its closure through liquidation in 1993, the building was used for visitor accommodation and storage for a coal mining museum. Listed Grade II.
Although provision for pithead baths was advocated by Royal Commission mining reports of 1907 and 1919, only around thirty had been constructed in Britain by the late Twenties. The Miners' Welfare Committee (MWC) was formed in 1921 to administer the Miner’s Welfare Fund which was established the previous year; one of its principal objectives being the provision of pithead baths. In 1937 £657,690, two thirds of the total grants from the fund for that year, was allocated to the construction of such buildings. By the end of that year, 208 baths had been completed providing facilities for nearly 275,000 miners, and a further 70 baths were under construction.
The pithead baths (18) at Chatterley Whitfield was constructed in 1936-37 at a cost of £36,000. Prior to its construction there were no washing facilities of any description at Chatterley Whitfield. When built, it was the second largest pithead baths in the country, providing accommodation for over 3,000 men. It opened in January 1938 and was described as 'undoubtedly the finest of their kind in the country'. There were three distinct but inter-connected zones to the first floor: the clean locker area where miners would leave their home clothes, the area containing dirty lockers where pit clothes were stored, and thirdly the shower area. The locker areas are said to have each contained 3,817 lockers, a number of which survive. The ground floor provided offices and laboratories, and also contained a canteen (19) and a medical centre (20). The three-storey tower at the west end of the baths acted as a calorifier (storage vessel with the capacity to generate heat within a mass of stored water) at ground and first floors, and as a plenum chamber (part of the heating and ventilation system) above. The canteen was extended with a 'feeding centre' circa 1950, though this was subsequently converted to a mine rescue station for disaster management, and a noise laboratory was added at the west end of the complex. Part of the pithead baths complex was used for storage and visitor accommodation during the tenure of the mining museum in the late C20.