A PAINFUL occasion that will forever leave a scar on the history of Hucknall isbeing remembered — the 25th anniversary of the decision to close Hucknall Colliery.
It was on September 16 1986 that British Coal announced that the 120-year-old mine, known as ‘Bottom Pit’, would cease production.
The move triggered shockwaves across the town, not only among the 1,320 miners at the colliery but also among countless families and businesses that relied on the coal industry.
On the fateful day, the Dispatch produced an ‘End Of An Era’ special, featuring five pages of articles, interviews and historical insight into a pit that was one of the oldest in the country and provided the lifeblood of the town.
Generations of men had worked, and died, at the coalface to provide heat for Hucknall and towns further afield.
But after a mass meeting with officials, miners and union representatives, a decision was taken to close the pit because of a dire financial crisis.
It came less than two years after the devastating miners’ strike of 1984/85 that tore communities apart.
According to British Coal figures, Hucknall Colliery, off Portland Road, lost a staggering total of £85 million in the five years leading up to the decision to close. Before the gates were finally locked, it was said to be losing £1 million every three weeks.
Albert Wheeler, then area director of British Coal, said on the day the pit closed: “There is no hope. I think it would be in everyone’s interests not to delay the closure.”
He added: “The financial results of Hucknall Colliery have deteriorated to such a degree that there is no justification in continuing production.”
All the miners at the colliery were offered transfer to another pit or redundancy.
Unions said they hoped the pit could be saved and Hucknall’s Conservative MP Andy Stewart, who described the closure as a “bombshell”, said he would back any plan launched by the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).
But ultimately, the colliery could not be saved and the town braced itself for the fight ahead.
Since that dark day in 1986, a new-look Hucknall has evolved but the town will forever remember the part played by Hucknall Colliery in its rich history.