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Prince of Wales 

In 1870, John Rhodes received a lease to mine coal underneath Pontefract Park and mining at Prince of Wales Colliery began two years later. Prince of Wales changed hands to Pontefract Collieries Ltd and was then nationalised in 1947. In 1977, a new drift mine was built at Prince of Wales. The redevelopment gave the colliery a much longer projected life. The colliery became a ‘receiver pit’ – miners whose pit had closed were transferred from as far away as Scotland and Wales. Prince of Wales was sold by British Coal to RJB Mining in 1995, before being closed in 2002.

Black and white image of 9 men in overcoats and carrying suitcases.  The pit is in teh background

An NCB image of new recruits arriving for training at Prince of Wales after nationalisation – they probably didn’t look this enthusiastic when the camera wasn’t on them!

(COAL magazine, March 1948, p. 6, digitised by National Coal Mining Museum, licencesed under Open Government Licence v3.0)

Educated for and at the Pit


Raymond Roberts described his schooling: ‘So we were educated for the pit weren’t we? We were basically cannon fodder.’ 

But once miners started work, the NCB and NUM provided free further education. He went to night school, became an apprentice welder and eventually ended up teaching mining apprentices.

Raymond Roberts
00:00 / 04:10

Interview with Grace Millar, 22 November 2018, Transcript

Trips to the Seaside

Miners pooled their resources to get access to leisure opportunities. Tony Twibey described going to the seaside with welfare clubs.

Tony Twibey
00:00 / 01:04

Interview with Grace Millar, 24 April 2018, Transcript

Radio One Broadcast live from Prince of Wales


On 30 March 1979, Simon Bates and John Peel broadcast a Radio One show live from the colliery. The first song they played was ‘Shaft’, requested by Peter Smith, an apprentice fitter.  Simon Bates interviewed two canteen workers, Betty and Margaret. Both of their husbands also worked at the pit.  

Radio One live from Prince of Wales
00:00 / 00:22

30 March 1979, Transcript

'A Coal Mine of the 1980s'

A heading saying introduction, followed by text.  Underneath is an image focused on two men working in a mining tunnel.  There is another man in the background.

Prince of Wales Drift Opening Brochure, (Grace Millar personal collection, Crown Copyright, digitised for this project under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence) Transcript.

In 1980, Prince Charles opened the new drift of the Prince of Wales.  The project had been developed at a time of expansion for the coal industry. The booklet from that opening captures some of that optimism stating: “Energy experts are agreed that coal provide the ‘lion’s share’ of Britain’s energy needs to the end of this century well into the next”.  The booklet has been digitised and is available in full.

How did Supermarkets Change Mining Communities?

A blakc and white image of the supermarket check out area, There are four checkouts in the foreground, and a number of women shopping at them.  The rest of the store can be seen in the background. There is a watermark saying 'Wakefield libraries'

G. T. Smith’s supermarket in the 1980s (Wakefield Express, digitised by Wakefield Library)

In the 1940s, miners and their families would shop at small local shops.  Sometimes these shops were run by people connected to the mining community; the mother of one of our interviewees ran a shop.  Over time shopping in mining areas changed, just like it did everywhere else, and miners and their families began to shop in larger shops and supermarkets.

Although these changes were significant, larger shops could not afford to be detatched from their customers communities.  Tony Twibey described the support G. T. Smith's gave to mining familes during the 1984–5 strike.

Tony Twibey
00:00 / 00:33

Interview with Grace Millar, 24 April 2018, Transcript

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