A Doncaster historian has released a new book based on the history of the Rossington Colliery

A Doncaster historian has released a new book based on the history of Rossington main colliery and the development of the mining community in New Rossington.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 1:18 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 1:22 am
Rossington memorial

The book has been written by local historian, Dave Fordham and it is the latest in a series complied by the author on the Doncaster area pits.

With a population of 13,557 recorded at the 2011 census, Rossington is now reputed to be one of the largest villages in the country.

However, 100 years before this, Rossington only had 371 inhabitants, many of which worked as agricultural labourers on the estate of Richard Streatfield of Rossington Hall.

Rossington Village model

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In 1912 a group of dignitaries assembled in a field nearby to Holmes Carr wood where the wife of Maurice deacon, (the managing director of the newly formed Rossington Main Colliery Company Ltd) cut the first sod of turf, marking the sinking operations for the new colliery.

A new chapter in Rossington’s history commenced as miners and their families from all over the country moved to New Rossington.

Under the guidance of Maurice Deacon and the chairman of the colliery company, Lord Aberconway, a new purpose-built planned settlement of 1,500 colliery owned houses was constructed to accommodate the 3,000 employees and their families.

To make a profit the colliery had to dig-deep and produce over 1,000,000 tons of coal every year.

The mining engineer by trade, Maurice deacon designed the layout of New Rossington and drew up a novel plan for a model village.

The plan showed that the houses would be arranged around a series of concentric circles. houses were also organised according to a hierarchical structure.

Therefore, large semi-detached villas were allocated for the central circle, surrounded by blocks of

smaller houses along the next circle outwards, with even smaller houses forming the outermost

circle.

The colliery company also prepared the housing designs and commissioned Frederick Hopkinson, a builder from Worksop, to build the new settlement.

During the first world war building operations were suspended and only 466 of the planned first phase of 1,000 houses had been built. Operations restarted in 1920 with a small number of houses and in 1922 the building of the ‘second circle estate’ was complete, by 1927, the colliery company had built 1,571 houses.

Many families from the Wigan area of Lancashire moved into the second circle estate, such that the area gained the nickname ‘Little Wigan’.

Services including shops, pubs, places of worship and schools were provided, often under the close eye of the colliery company.

Consequently, a new self-contained community was established, one of the largest mining settlements in the country.

Union representative Mr Hughes would ride around the village ringing a large bell to remind miners to attend union meetings.

In 1927, the Rossington Main Colliery Company Ltd became part of Yorkshire Amalgamated Collieries Ltd who completed the underground development works, enabling the pit to produce a million tons of coal per year.

During the 1950s, the National Coal Board and the local authority continued to build more houses, and many miners from Scotland and the North East came to seek a new life in the village.

Unfortunately, the demand for coal declined during the latter half of the 20th century and many pits closed, and coal mining communities suffered from hardship.

However, Rossington Colliery survived longer than most, and in 1994, the pit was sold to the private sector.

Although by now with a much-reduced workforce, the colliery continued to produce coal until closure in 2006 and was subsequently demolished.

Since then, new link roads to the M18 and Robin Hood Airport have been built from the village, together with new employment opportunities and new houses on the pit site.

Today, Rossington will be forever known as a former mining community and there are memorials to those that worked and died at the pit in the Welfare Grounds and in the Model Village. It is also hoped to incorporate a new memorial garden on the site of the pit.

This new A5 sized book features 92 pages with 16 in colour and has 79 illustrations.

The book is priced at £5.95 and can be bought from Doncaster Tourist Information Centre on High Street or online at www.fedjbooks.co.uk.