Plans history

Victory Shaft, Geevor Mine, Pendeen, Cornwall. P208012

Wanlockhead mine plan, Dumfriesshire. P528149

Foss Barite Mine, Aberfeldy, Perthshire. P001571

Torwood Mine, Central Region. P001531

Year Historical event
1840 The first Mining Records Office (MRO) was established by the government, for the voluntary registration and preservation of abandoned mine plans. The office was housed in the then newly established Museum of Practical Geology in London.

A few plans, sections and even models were deposited but the vast majority chose not to deposit anything.

1850 The Select Committee on Accidents report led to the passing of the Inspection of Coal Mines Act in 1850 for Great Britain.

The Act required a coal mine owner to keep a plan at each mine. This Act was meant to be temporary and stay in force for only five years but was re-enacted in 1855.

1872 The Coal Mines Regulation Act and Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act made the deposition of plans of abandoned mines with the Secretary of State a statutory requirement. Both Acts placed an obligation on mine owners to deposit their plans within a period of three months from the date of abandonment.

Non-coal mines were not required to deposit plans if there had been less than 12 men employed below ground, and this relaxation was perpetuated in all subsequent legislation until 1993.

All that was required to be shown on these plans were the boundaries of the mine workings up to the time of abandonment. There was no requirement for orientation with the surface, or depth or section information to be shown. Once deposited no person except a mines inspector could view the plans for a period of 10 years.

1883 To establish a closer association between the MRO and the Inspectorate of Mines, the MRO was transferred from the Museum of Practical Geology to the Home Office.
1886 The first listing of plans deposited with the Home Office was published. The listing differentiated between open and closed plans depending on whether they had been held for 10 years.
1923 – 1931 There were two accidents, one in Stirlingshire in September 1923, resulting in the death of 40 workers, and one in Northumberland in March 1925, when 38 people were killed. Both accidents were as a consequence of an inrush of water from old workings.

In July 1925 the Secretary for Mines made a widespread appeal for plans of old workings not covered by the statutory requirements or for the supply of information where it was not desired to give up the plans. The appeal was widely responded to and particulars of such plans were included in a new cataloguing system that was published in five volumes between 1928 and 1931.

The catalogue was based on the 1:10 560 Ordnance Survey county map series, with each three miles by two miles map area subdivided into a graticule of 96 squares with alpha-numeric references. This cataloguing system has been maintained ever since.

1939 All the plans and records were transferred to Buxton from London and the MRO operated from there for the duration of the Second World War and for some time afterwards.
1950 A Memorandum of Agreement was made between the Ministry and the recently formed National Coal Board (NCB). Under this agreement the coal plans were segregated from the plans of other minerals and transferred to the custodianship of NCB.

The collection of coal plans were then further split into regional areas to allow the plans to be made more easily accessible.

Oil shale abandonment plans were transferred to Scottish Oils Ltd. The plans for 'minerals other than coal and oil shale' were then returned to London and stored at Thames House, Millbank.

1960 Scottish Oils closed and oil shale plans were transferred to NCB Edinburgh.
1973 National appeal for plans following the Lofthouse Colliery disaster.

Non-coal plans for Cornwall were transferred to Cornwall Record Office under a memorandum of agreement between the Minister and Cornwall County Council.

1975 The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was set up and took over the Ministry’s role of arranging archiving of abandonment plans.
1980 Plans of mines other than coal and oil shale in Scotland were transferred to BGS Edinburgh.
1984 Remaining non-coal abandonment plans were transferred from London to HSE Bootle, Merseyside.
1989 – 1993 English and Welsh non-coal plans from Bootle were dispersed to county record offices. Those for Cumbria were temporarily held by BGS Edinburgh between 1991 and 2000.
1992 – 1993 The collections of coal and oil shale abandonment plans were re-united at British Coal's Bretby site near Burton-on-Trent. They were inherited by the Coal Authority on privatisation of the coal industry in 1994 under a new memorandum of agreement with the HSE.
1993 The anomaly, perpetuated in legislation made down the years since 1872, whereby abandonment plans were not required from non-coal mines employing less than 12 men, was removed by the Management and Administration of Safety and Health in Mines Regulations.
2001 The collection of coal abandonment plans was transferred to the Coal Authority's headquarters based at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.