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Chatterley Whitfield: Boiler House (16) and Chimney (3), City of Stoke-on-Trent

Description: Chatterley Whitfield: Boiler House (16) and Chimney (3)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 April 2014
Building ID: 1416089

OS Grid Reference: SJ8836053259
OS Grid Coordinates: 388353, 353278
Latitude/Longitude: 53.0766, -2.1753

Locality: City of Stoke-on-Trent
County: City of Stoke-on-Trent
Postcode: ST6 8UW

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Listing Text


Boiler house (16) of circa 1937 and attached chimney (3) of 1891. Not included in the listing is the dust sampling laboratory (17).

Reason for Listing

The boiler house and attached chimney at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery which were constructed in c.1931 and 1891 respectively are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic plant: although the boiler house has suffered a considerable loss of fabric, its intrinsic interest lies in its ten Lancashire boilers, considered to be the largest concentration surviving within a single building;
* Landscape prominence: the chimney is an iconic and highly visible presence in this former colliery landscape;
* Group value: they are essential components of an important and largely intact complex which contains examples of a full range of colliery structures.


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 The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit.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 4,402 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.

Chatterley Whitfield's prominent chimneystack (3) was built in 1891, replacing a short square stack. It was initially built for five Adamson boilers located to the south which served Middle, Institute and Platt pits. The Ordnance Survey map of 1898 depicts buildings close to the chimney which may have housed the original boilers, although this area was also the location of a former endless rope haulage engine house. The chimney reduced in height on two occasions during the second half of the C20.

The production of high-pressure steam at Chatterley Whitfield was centralised in 1938 with the construction of the main boiler house (16) in an area that was previously occupied by mechanical, electrical and woodworking shops. Prior to its construction, steam was raised in twenty-one, hand-fired boilers located across the colliery site. The mid-20 boiler house contained ten Lancashire boilers which were operated by an automatic pulverised fuel-feeding system since fine pulverised coal was renowned for its efficiency. The dust was retrieved from the screening plant (demolished late C20) and was carried via an overhead conveyor to the boiler house where it was continually blown into the boilers. High-pressure steam was fed directly from the boiler house to the colliery's steam-winding engines and to the compressors in the Hesketh power house, while some of the low-pressure steam provided heat to some buildings, including the pithead baths and the offices. In the later C20 two of the boilers were adapted to burn the methane that was present in the coal seams, while the rest were run on coal. The boiler house remained in operation until the closure of the colliery, and the roof and upper part of the building was demolished as a safety precaution in the late C20.

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.


Boiler house (16) of circa 1937 and attached chimney (3) of 1891. Not included in the listing is the dust sampling laboratory (17).

MATERIALS: the boiler house has a steel frame with brick infill panels; the chimney is brick and is reinforced with steel straps.

PLAN: the boiler house is roughly rectangular on plan, with the circular chimney located to the south.

DESCRIPTION: the BOILER HOUSE was formerly a large single-storey building, but its roof and all high-level steelwork were removed in the late C20. The steel frame is expressed to each elevation and supports a single-skin brick panels. Not inspected internally (2013). The ten Lancashire boilers are arranged symmetrically in rows of five to either side of a central access gallery. They are built into a series of brick chambers, and the covering over the chambers is formed of pre-cast concrete with a brick lining. To the front (north) of the boilers is a raised concrete floor. Attached to the rear of each bank of boilers is a continuous brick flue which has a concrete covering. The two flues run transversely through the building and feed into a brick collection chamber adjacent to the chimney where the flue gases were collected. Beyond the flues, and to each side of the collection chamber, are water economisers which take the form of vertical steel tubes with brick walls.

The late-C19 CHIMNEY is a tapering structure with a base diameter of 6.5m which originally stood some 60m high, but has been reduced in height. It has been strengthened with steel straps, some of which are of late-C20 date. The former access points around its base have been infilled with brick, and brickwork flues connect the base of the stack with the adjacent boiler house.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached to the north side of the boiler house is the former dust sampling laboratory (17) of circa 1938. This two-storey building has a steel frame with infill panels of brick under an asbestos cement pitched roof. There is an attached single-storey range to the east side, and a two-storey lean-to to the south. There are metal-framed windows to each elevation; a pedestrian doorway in the west gable end; and a loading bay with roller shutters to the east elevation of the single-storey range. Internally, the ground floor has been partly subdivided with blockwork partition walls. This structure is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.