Walker Fan House and Drift

Walker Fan House and Drift

Situated between the Institute and Platt shafts the fan extracted some 43,000 cubic metres of air per minute, which entered the mine via the Hesketh and Winstanley shafts and exited through the Evasee up the Platt and Institute shafts. It is estimated that the air travels 37 miles once it enters the underground workings.
Audit April 1969:
Type : Walker D1.RF
Horsepower : 600
Date of Installation : 1938
Capacity: Range of Fan : 237,100 Cubic Feet per Minute at 6.9 W.G.
Type of drive : Vee Rope
Prime Mover : Electric

Type : Aerox
Horsepower : 1500
Date of Installation : 1965
Capacity: Range of Fan : 500,000 Cubic Feet per Minute at 13.2 W.G.
Type of drive : Gear Box
Prime Mover : Electric

The Walker fan house at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, constructed c.1958, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: fan houses are rare survivals in a national context and, despite the loss of its fan, this example retains its landmark evaseé; * Architectural interest: it represents a distinctive and significant component from the later phases of the colliery's development; * Historic interest: the building is fundamental to the understanding, history and appearance of the colliery.
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 The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit.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 another new shaft was dug, the Hesketh Shaft constructed 1914-1917. This was designed to serve the much deeper coal seams below those worked by the other shafts. By 1928, the colliery employed 4402 men including 249 boys under 16. Following a contraction in production during the labour unrest of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s, there was renewed investment in the site including the mechanisation of underground haulage and the construction of new office accommodation and a pithead baths complex. In 1937 the colliery became the first to extract over one million tonnes of coal in a year.

Following the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 there was further investment at Chatterley Whitfield. The Walker, or Institute fan house at Chatterley Whitfield is first depicted on a plan of 1958 and it contained an electrically-driven fan. The Walker Brothers' steel 'Indestructible’ fan, a direct descendant of the Guibal fan, was patented in 1887 and was a double-inlet type with eight blades, set in a spiral casing with a ventilation shaft or evaseé. Up to 100,000 cubic feet of air per minute could be drawn from the workings through the fan drift and fresh air naturally replaced this through the downcast shafts. During the late C20 the fan drift to Chatterley's Walker fan house was partly converted to form 'sham' offices for museum visitors.