Former colliery fan house (27) and drift of c.1958.
Reason for Listing
The Walker fan house at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, constructed c.1958, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: fan houses are rare survivals in a national context and, despite the loss of its fan, this example retains its landmark evaseé;
* Architectural interest: it represents a distinctive and significant component from the later phases of the colliery's development;
* Historic interest: the building is fundamental to the understanding, history and appearance of the colliery.
The coal seams in the Chatterley Whitfield area may have been worked from the medieval period but large-scale extraction began in the C19, particularly following the opening of the Biddulph Valley Railway line in the 1860s and the formation of Chatterley Whitfield Collieries Ltd in 1891. By the early C20 the mine workings were focussed around four shafts – known as the Engine Pit, Middle Pit, Institute Pit and Platt Pit. The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit. Soon after another new shaft was dug, the Hesketh Shaft constructed 1914-1917. This was designed to serve the much deeper coal seams below those worked by the other shafts. By 1928, the colliery employed 4402 men including 249 boys under 16. Following a contraction in production during the labour unrest of the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s, there was renewed investment in the site including the mechanisation of underground haulage and the construction of new office accommodation and a pithead baths complex. In 1937 the colliery became the first to extract over one million tonnes of coal in a year.
Following the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 there was further investment at Chatterley Whitfield. The Walker, or Institute fan house at Chatterley Whitfield is first depicted on a plan of 1958 and it contained an electrically-driven fan. The Walker Brothers' steel 'Indestructible’ fan, a direct descendant of the Guibal fan, was patented in 1887 and was a double-inlet type with eight blades, set in a spiral casing with a ventilation shaft or evaseé. Up to 100,000 cubic feet of air per minute could be drawn from the workings through the fan drift and fresh air naturally replaced this through the downcast shafts. During the late C20 the fan drift to Chatterley's Walker fan house was partly converted to form 'sham' offices for museum visitors.
From the 1960s production at the site fell and in the 1970s it was decided to work the remaining coal from Wolstanton Colliery. Production ceased in 1976-77 but the site was opened as a museum two years later. This ensured the survival of the buildings, but the museum closed due to financial difficulties in 1993.
Former colliery fan house (27) and drift of circa 1958.
MATERIALS: the fan house has a brick base and is steel framed with profiled metal cladding; its roof is also clad in metal sheeting. The ventilation shaft has a fabricated steel casing, and the fan drift is covered in mass concrete slabs.
PLAN: rectangular on plan comprising three attached structures: the fan house containing the fan motors and other equipment, the ventilation shaft or evaseé, and a fan drift to the south.
EXTERIOR: north side of fan house has a large entrance with continuous glazing of fifteen lights above. The windows in the west elevation are metal framed, and an exhaust pipe comes out of the east side of the building. To the rear (south) side is the evaseé which has welded steel ribs and plates which form a four-sided tower that flares outwards above mid-height. The concrete-covered drift beyond (south) has a projecting, flat-roofed entrance with steel doors (boarded over) to the west elevation, which is accessed by concrete steps with railings to three sides and a large steel door on its east side.
INTERIOR: not inspected (2013), but understood to retain an electrically-powered fan, DC generator, fan motor on a concrete plinth, gear box and pumps. Much of the floor within the fan house is finished with red quarry tiles. A staircase within the drift leads down to tunnels.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.