Express & Star

Final farewell to last mine

Last day at Littleton...

The pithead winding gear falls silent

In the last few weeks there have been many memories to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1984 miners' strike, but for some communities it was the 1990s when their mining story came to a close.

Such was the case for Littleton Colliery, near Cannock, seen here on December 10, 1993, when the final curtain came down on over a century of mining, and the pithead winding gear stood like a silent guard over miners' cottages.

After leaving the pit for a final time the miners took part in a march of mourning for their colliery and their jobs. Almost 600 men had been thrown out of work following British Coal's announcement that it was closing the pit which came as a shock as it had been thought the colliery, designated a "core" mine, was safe.

The colliery shut down at noon that day, although coal cutting had stopped earlier in the week.

The pithead winding gear falls silent

The men marched behind their National Union of Mineworkers banners from the gates of the pit at Huntington through Cannock town centre and on to their social and welfare club in Avon Road.

They were joined by the MP for Cannock and Burntwood, Tony Wright, and David Hallam, the prospective Labour candidate for the Stafford and Shropshire European constituency.

The closure of Littleton spelt the end of deep mining in Staffordshire. The county's only other pit, Silverdale at Newcastle-under-Lyme, had shut the previous month.

According to British Coal Littleton had lost £2.9 million since April 1993 and there was no market for its coal because of a "dash for gas" by power generators.

The miners did not give up hope, however. They claimed the pit was economic and union leaders tried, unsuccessfully, to find a private buyer.

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