Audit April 1969:
Screening Plant : Slow Speed Jigging Screens
Number of Picking Units: Two
Size of Picking Belts : 54 "
Sizes and Qualities Produced : 4" Best Coal, 5" House Coal, 5" to 3" Cobbles
Washery Plant : Greaves Cobbles & Slack Washers
Type of Plant : Mechanical Jig
Capacity of Wash Boxes : 90Tons per Hour - 120 Tons per Hour
Size Range : 5" to 1 1/2" and 1 1/2 " to 0"
Size of Untreated Smalls : 1" to 0"
Sizes Produced : 5" - 3", 3" - 1 1/2", 1 1/2" - 1", 1" - 1/2", 1/2" - 0" (Washed), 1" - 0" (Untreated)
Qualities : Best Cobble, Best Nuts, No 2. Gas Nuts, Gas Beans, Washed Coking Smalls, Untreated Smalls
Loading Facilities : Suitable for wagons upto 24 1/2 Tons
Wagon Movement : Gravity
The coal seams in the Chatterley Whitfield area may have been worked from the medieval period but large-scale extraction began in the C19, particularly following the opening of the Biddulph Valley Railway line in the 1860s and the formation of Chatterley Whitfield Collieries Ltd in 1891. By the early C20 the mine workings were focussed around four shafts – known as the Engine Pit, Middle Pit, Institute Pit and Platt Pit. The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit. Soon after, in 1915-17, the Hesketh shaft was sunk in the south-eastern part of the site. It was the last shaft to be sunk at the colliery and was designed to serve the much deeper coal seams below those worked by the other shafts. It was used both for drawing coal and for carrying men, and its winding house (7) was situated just to the north of the shaft. The heapstead (the structures around a mine shaft) which also dates from 1915-17 was further developed during the 1920s and 1930s as the exploitation of coal through the shaft increased, and it was also updated in the early 1950s.
Attached to the south end of the heapstead is a mine car circuit (also known as the tub hall or decking plant) that is L-shaped on plan. It was erected as part of a major reconstruction of the colliery by National Coal Board circa 1952. At this time a general reorganisation of the mine car capacity above and below ground was instigated and high-capacity mine cars (large wagons) were also introduced. The mid-C20 tub (small wagons) hall appears to have replaced a pre-existing high-level tubway that probably formed part of the original design of the Hesketh heapstead. The new tub hall included tipplers and creeper railways, and a combination of gravity and mechanical power was used to transport the mine cars to and from a screening and washing plant. This was situated above the east end of the railway sidings and was where coal was graded before being transferred directly into the rail wagons below. The screens and washery have since been demolished.
From the 1960s production at the site fell and in the 1970s it was decided to work the remaining coal from Wolstanton Colliery. Production ceased in 1976-77 but the site was opened as a museum two years later. This ensured the survival of the buildings, but the museum closed due to financial difficulties in 1993. The upper derrick of the headstock of the Hesketh shaft was removed in the 1970s and the shaft was capped in 1978. In 2013 part of the lower concrete floor at the north end of the heapstead collapsed. Since the closure of the colliery, much of the high-level conveyor system which carried dirt and waste material from the tub hall to the spoil tip to the south of the colliery has been removed as a safety precaution.