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British Industrial History

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Rother Vale Collieries

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Previously Fence Colliery Co.

Rother Vale Collieries were a group of coal producing pits originally in the Rother Valley parishes of Treeton, Woodhouse and Orgreave, nowadays on the south east Sheffield / Rotherham boundary, in South Yorkshire. In the early 20th century they developed a new colliery at Thurcroft.

The Fence Colliery Co was formed in 1862 with the purchase of Fence Colliery, a small coal pit sunk alongside the North Midland Railway line at Woodhouse Mill and on the western side of the village of Fence. This pit had already been in operation for over 25 years and under new ownership was considerably developed. It closed as a coal producing unit in 1902 but it was retained as a pumping station and later became the National Coal Boards workshops, finally closing in the 1990s.

Orgreave Colliery, then a small concern, was bought by the company in 1870. It was situated less than a mile from Fence, adjacent to the main line of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, to the west of Woodhouse. It was joined to this railway by a steeply graded but short branch line.

Five years after the purchase of Orgreave Colliery the company changed its name and became Rother Vale Collieries Limited extending its empire just two years on with the sinking of a new pit at Treeton. A railway branch was constructed by well-known contractors Logan and Hemingway between Orgreave and Treeton to link the collieries to the Midland Railway at Treeton. In order to gain a foothold in the traffic at Treeton the M.S.& L.R. gained authorisation for a branch line, unusually, under its "Extension to London" Act, 1893. This opened for traffic, including the Paddy Mail, on 10 October 1898.

Moving further eastwards the Rother Vale Colliery Co began the sinking of a new colliery at Thurcroft in 1909. Although the Barnsley seam was reached in 1913 extraction became difficult. The point of sinking was situated over a large geological fault which had thrown the coal out of its normal position.

In 1918 the United Steel Companies were formed and the following year, along with steel making interests in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Rother Vale Collieries became part of the group.

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