A chance decision to turn right to try and chase the fading light lead us to the derelict pit head of the Annesley Colliery which when it closed in January 2000 was the oldest operating colliery in the UK.
Since its closure, however, the site has become somewhat famous to the urban explorer as it is one of the most complete disused colliery complexes still in existence. The site has been documented in a number of places such as Forlorn Britain which includes its history and role during the miners’ strike of 84/85 as well as an investigation of the remaining structures and buildings.
Subterranea Britannica also details the pit’s history from the first shaft sunk between 1865 and 1867 by the Worswick family from Leicestershire up to a site visit on 16th June 2008.
Perhaps the most extensive set of internal pictures have been taken by Derelicte who tried to go far underground down the main ventilation shaft but:
“20 steps down it absolutely stunk of hydrogen sulfide(?) so we decided not to venture further. It was also flooded a bit further in”
Forlorn Britain explains some of the sites recent history:
“During 1999 the district council recognised the importance of Annesley Village and colliery Pit head including it as a conservation area which provided a measure of protection to the colliery buildings. However in 2004 in breach of the conservation order the No1 downcast Headstock and a number of the colliery workshops and stores were illegally demolished. Fortunately the Impressive Lattice Iorn work No2 upcast headgear survived. It is the last of its type still standing in the UK.”
Persimmon Homes have secured planning permission to build 188 homes on the colliery site but local community groups are trying to purchase the land and develop Annesley Lagoons into a thriving nature reserve.
— words by Paul
— pictures by Paul and Elizabeth