The first shaft of Griff No. 4 Colliery was sunk in 1851. This was a downcast air shaft known as Charlie Pit that was serviced by one of the older shafts belonging to Griff No. 3 Colliery. By 1882 the colliery had become rundown and productivity was so low that the owner, Charles Newdigate Newdegate, sold the Griff Collieries on the Stock Exchange. The newly created Griff Colliery Company took over, and two new shafts were sunk between 1884 and 1897. These two shafts, along with the original Charlie Pit became Griff No. 4 Colliery.
The Griff Colliery Company
The Griff Colliery Company was formed by Andrew Knowles and Emerson Bainbridge, who both had extensive mining interests in the north. Another major shareholder was Edward Ferdinand Melly, who became the first manager of the company in 1882. Melly was a mining engineer who had become acquainted with Bainbridge while training as an engineer in Sheffield. When Melly arrived, Griff No. 4 Colliery was under-financed and in danger of stagnation. Under Melly’s management, the company grew and a sister pit, Griff Clara Colliery, was opened in 1895. By this time, Griff No. 4 Colliery employed 905 men.
Nationalisation of the coal industry
By the time the coal industry was nationalised in 1947, the colliery had become old fashioned and rundown. The nation was suffering from a fuel shortage, and coal was sought at any cost. However, by the mid-1950s productivity throughout the industry had increased while the national demand for coal was falling rapidly, so collieries were suddenly expected to make a profit to ensure their survival. Collieries deemed to be unprofitable stopped extracting coal and a series of pit closures occurred.
Investment and closure
In 1958, a programme of non-productive investment began at the colliery. Pithead baths and a new deployment centre were built and opened in 1959. Many of the roads were tarmacked, the area near the colliery office was landscaped, and lawns and rose gardens were planted. When this investment was completed, the National Coal Board announced that Griff No. 4 Colliery was in debt that there was no choice other than to stop production. Griff No. 4 Colliery closed in 1960.
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Northern Mine Research Society. (n.d.) ‘Warwickshire Coalfield’. [Accessed 30 March 2020].
Nuneaton News. (2016) ‘The lasting legacy of Alderman Edward Melly’. [Accessed 23 March 2021].