|Immediate source of acquisition:
The records were received from two sources. Accessions 303 and 1853 were deposited by HM Inspectorate of Mines, then located at Silver House, Silver Street, Doncaster in February 1977 and March 2001. Its address from April 2001 is: Health and Safety Executive, Hazardous Installations Directorate, Land Division 5, HM Inspectorate of Mines, Sovereign House, 110 Queen Street, Sheffield S1 2ES.
Accession 1799, deposited in January 2000, relating to the Bentley Colliery Explosion of 1931, which is catalogued here as section 17, came from the same source, but through a lecturer at Doncaster College, to whom they had been loaned by the Inspectorate some years previously.
The papers of J E MacFarlane (Doncaster Archives reference: DD/MF) also contain research materials on the same subject and a number of published works by local authors treat coal mining disasters. These include J MacFarlane, Blood on Your Coal, (Doncaster Library Service, 1985) and John Woodhead, The Bentley Pit Disaster, (Waterdale Press, Doncaster, 1991).
Other records relating to coal mining generally held by Doncaster Archives can be located in the published Guide mentioned above.
|Administrative / biographical background:
The Inspectorate of Mines was established by an Act of Parliament in 1842 (5 and 6 Vict. Cap 99, section III). The Coal Mines Regulation Act (35 and 36 Vict., c. 76), the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872 (35 and 36 Vict., c.77) and the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887 (50 and 51 Vict., Ch. 58, sections 39 to 46) further extended the provisions for inspection. By the time of the earliest records catalogued here, regulation by inspection was governed by the Coal Mines Act, 1911 (1 and 2 Geo. V, Ch. 50). Part VII of the Act (sections 97 to 100) applied specifically to inspectors.
The earliest surviving records of the local division of the Inspectorate date from 1911. At this time, the Doncaster district was becoming a major coal-mining area with the eastward-moving exploitation of the Barnsley seam of the Yorkshire coalfield. Frickley, Bullcroft, Brodsworth and Bentley and Yorkshire Main (Edlington) collieries were all being sunk in the first decade of the twentieth century. The earliest records catalogued here show that the local inspectorate acted for the Yorkshire and North Midland Division, in which the north midlands comprised Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
From August 1923, the area served was reduced to the South and West Yorkshire division. This was renamed the Yorkshire Division from 1927, and there were several other subsequent changes of name, the last of which seems to have been the South Yorkshire Division (see MQ/4/6 below). There are separate registers from the mid 1940s for what appear to be separate districts within the division: for a Barnsley District (MQ/4/7), a Rotherham District (see MQ/2/41 to 2/43, 3/1 to 3/3, 4/1 to 4/3 and MQ/5/5) and a South East Yorkshire District (see MQ/2/44, 3/4 to 3/7, 4/4 to 4/5 and MQ/5/6). It is not clear from the registers whether these changes of title were accompanied by a change in the area for which the local inspectorate was responsible.
The offices were located at Lancaster House, West Laithe Gate, Doncaster and finally at Silver House, Silver Street, Doncaster. The records contain only incidental information about the staff of the division. The divisional head in 1912 was T H Mottram (see MQ/9/6 and MQ/9/7), by 1927 was H M Hudspeth (see MQ/15/2), by 1931 was E H Frazer, by 1942 was H J Humphreys (MQ/20/3, who had been senior inspector by 1931, see MQ/17/4) and by 1957, W Scott (see MQ/21/14).
The continuing contraction of the coal-mining industry following the National Union of Mineworkers' strike of 1984-1985 and privatisation in the 1990s led to a diminution in the work of the Inspectorate nationally. When the Doncaster office closed at the end of March 2001, the Inspectorate staff who moved to Sheffield in April 2001 assumed responsibility for mines and quarries inspection duties throughout the country as a division of the Health and Safety Executive.