In 1847 a coal mine was sunk on the Pooley Hall Estate, not far from the main house. It was completed in 1849, and coal began to be extracted in 1850. A syndicate formed the Pooley Hall Colliery Company in 1897, and the colliery grew to include a brickworks.
Government control and strike action
During the First World War, the colliery was taken over by the Ministry of Fuel and Power, who invested in the colliery and installed new a new winding engine and headgear in 1915. Following the war the colliery was returned to its previous owners, who sold it to Colonel D’Arcy Chaytor, an accomplished mining engineer from New Zealand.
The Pooley Hall mineworkers did not support the 1921 miners’ strike and remained at work while the rest of the Warwickshire laid down their tools to fight against the reduction in wages. On 21 June 1921, the striking miners of Baddesley and Birch Coppice Collieries assembled at Baddesley Ensor and marched on Polesworth to persuade the Pooley Hall miners to join the strike. Unknown to the Baddesley and Birch Coppice miners, 200 policemen had been drafted into Polesworth, and a baton charge was made at the striking miners, leaving several people unconscious. The rest of the Warwickshire coalfield eventually returned to work with a further reduction in wages and a longer working week; conditions that had already been accepted by the Pooley Hall miners.
A royal visit and alternative employment
In 1924, the Duke of York (later King George VI) visited Tamworth to open an extension to the General Hospital. Chaytor lobbied the Duke’s advisors and managed to arrange for the Duke to visit the colliery as a way of rewarding the miners. The smartest of the Pooley Hall miners were selected to form a guard of honour, and were told to wear their Sunday best suit and a flat cap. Those who did not own a flat cap were told to go out and buy one. In the lead up to the visit, the pit bottom was transformed with whitewash, and Pooley Hall became the first colliery in Britain to have an underground toilet when a new pit bottom bucket lavatory with a rosewood seat was installed. The miners were instructed not to use the new lavatory until after the Duke’s visit, and within a week it had to be removed as the stench in that part of the pit had grown unbearable.
The Pooley Hall miners joined the General Strike of 1926, however they did not suffer the same discomfort as the rest of the Warwickshire miners. Colonel Chaytor’s brother, Captain Chaytor, was the owner of Tamworth Electricity Company, and employed many of the striking miners on a temporary basis to dig ditches for electrical cables so that electricity could be brought to the outlying villages.
Modernisation and merger
The first pithead baths in the Warwickshire coalfield were opened at Pooley Hall Colliery in 1928. Financed by the Miners’ Welfare Fund, the baths were designed for 2000 men with showers and clothes drying lockers, plus extra facilities for managers.
Pooley Hall Colliery was modernised again in 1932 with the installation of conveyor belts to replace the shaker pan face conveyors, making the working conditions safer. In 1942, Alvecote (Tamworth) Colliery became an addit pit, and was used by Pooley Hall for manriding and winding coal. In 1951, Pooley Hall Colliery and Alvecote Colliery merged with Amington Colliery to form the North Warwick Colliery. North Warwick Colliery closed in 1965, and all deep mining ceased in Polesworth.
Durham Mining Museum. (n.d.) ‘Pooley Hall Colliery Co. Ltd.’ [Accessed 2 March 2020].
Fretwell, L. (2005) ‘Pooley Hall Colliery’, The Warwickshire Coalfield, Vol. 1, pp. 53-61.
Northern Mine Research Society. (n.d.) ‘Warwickshire Coalfield’. [Accessed 30 March 2020].
Warwickshire County Council. (n.d.) ‘Pooley Country Park’. [Accessed 2 March 2020].