Cataloguing statutory abandonment plans

All the statutory abandonment plans for both coal and non-coal mines were catalogued in the same number sequences, according to the plans' origins. There is a sequence comprising a letter prefix (mostly R but also a few with M or S) followed by digits (1 to 400) followed in some cases by a letter suffix (A to I). These are mainly old plans inherited from pre-1872 collections. The main number sequence has no suffix or prefix and started with 1 in 1872 and continues to the present day, approaching number 18000.

The Coal Authority database, on which this website is based, prefixes the original catalogue number for both sequences of non-coal plans with OM (for other mineral). Similarly, BGS Edinburgh prefixes their holding with AP (for abandonment plan). In general, local record offices holding statutory abandonment plans have recatalogued the plans into their own systems but will include the original catalogue number, without OM or AP prefixes, in their catalogue entry.

In general, a new number was allocated whenever plans for a particular mine were deposited. Each abandonment plan, may consist of several sheets. In some cases, particularly with non-coal mines, mines were abandoned and reopened several times depending on the economics of the day. This can result in several abandonment plans for the same mine. There are also cases of plans for the same mine coming from different sources and being given different numbers.

The date of abandonment is recorded for most of the more recent plans. This is not known for many of the older plans, so the last date of workings shown on the plan may be recorded instead.

All coal and oil shale mine plans for the whole of Great Britain are held at the Coal Authority Mining Record Office, Mansfield. They also hold some plans that show workings for both coal and other minerals, such as fireclay or ironstone.

All non-coal mine plans are held at local record offices. In general English and Welsh plans are held at the record office for the relevant administrative county as it was after 1974. In the case of most of the English metropolitan counties, the plans are held at a single record office to suit local wishes. However, at the wish of the Councils, plans for West Midlands mines are split between the record offices of five District Councils. All Scottish plans are held at the British Geological Survey's Murchison House site in Edinburgh.

In general, plans have not been moved if administrative boundaries changed after 1990. Exceptions are the transfer of archives from Avon, on its abolition, to Bristol City and the new Conwy unitary authority receiving plans in its area from 1974 Gwynedd. (Conwy plans in 1974 Clywd remain at Hawarden).

It should be noted that the original catalogue was based on the historic counties as they were before 1974. A few plans have stayed with collections from historic counties where this made sense locally.