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British Industrial History

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Orgreave Colliery

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Orgreave Colliery was a coal mine situated adjacent to the main line of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway about 5 miles south east of Sheffield. The colliery is within the parish of Orgreave, from which it takes its name.

The opening, by the Sorby family, of Dore House Colliery in 1820 saw the beginning of coal mining in the area around Orgreave.

The first shaft of Orgreave Colliery itself was sunk in 1851. A few miles to the east and 12 years later the Fence Colliery Co sank Fence Colliery.

In 1870 this company acquired Orgreave from the Sorby family.

In 1875 the Directors of the Fence Colliery Co leased land in the area from the Duke of Norfolk and the Fence Colliery Company was renamed Rother Vale Collieries, owning Orgeave Colliery, Fence and Treeton collieries.

Following the First World War Orgreave was acquired by the United Steel Companies who used the coal obtained to supply the new Orgreave Coking and By Products plant. Metallurgical Coke was supplied from here to United Steel’s blast furnace plant at Scunthorpe.

From 1922 coke oven gas was supplied to the Sheffield Gas Co, this continuing until the advent of gas from below the North Sea.

At nationalisation the mining and coking operations were split, the coal processing and chemicals interests stayed with United Steel Companies under their subsidiary, the United Coke & Chemical Company. The collieries at Orgreave and Treeton were linked underground and as well as the coking plant the coal drawn by these collieries was fed to the washery at Orgreave Coal Preparation Plant. Orgreave colliery closed in Autumn 1981, the Coking Ovens in 1990.

In 1995, British Coal Opencast gained permission to restore the tip, which reputedly contained over 12 million tonnes of spoil, and make the land fit for rebuilding. This work included the recovery of coal, from the tip and sub-surface, by open-casting.

On 30 November 2005, the last coal was removed from the Orgreave site, bringing an end to an era which began over 170 years before.

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