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Chatterley Whitfield: Former Fan House (11), City of Stoke-on-Trent

Description: Chatterley Whitfield: Former Fan House (11)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 April 2014
Building ID: 1416091

OS Grid Reference: SJ8841753316
OS Grid Coordinates: 388417, 353317
Latitude/Longitude: 53.0770, -2.1743

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

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Listing Text


Former colliery fan house (11) of circa 1930.

Reason for Listing

The c. 1930 fan house at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery 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 characteristic evasé;
* Architectural interest: it represents an architecturally distinctive component in terms of the decorative detailing in its brickwork from the mid-C20 phase of the colliery's development;
* Group value: it has a spatial and visual relationship with other listed buildings and a scheduled monument.


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 The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit.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

Fan houses provided ventilation to underground colliery workings. In Britain colliery fans were traditionally exhausting ventilators: stagnant air and gases being drawn out of the underground workings, and a ventilation shaft, known as an evaseé, reduced the speed of the air as it left the fan. The Platt fan house (11) was constructed in the south-eastern part of the colliery circa 1930 to house a steam-driven fan. It is unclear whether it remained in operation following the construction of the Institute or Walker fan house (27) immediately to the west circa 1958, but by the late C20 the building was used mostly for storage.

Following the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 there was further investment at Chatterley Whitfield, but 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 and the site has been unused since then.


Former colliery fan house (11) of circa 1930.

MATERIALS: built of red brick under an asbestos cement roof with a low brick parapet to the gable ends. Metal-framed windows throughout, with concrete lintels and sills.

PLAN: a rectangular, single-storey building with an attached ventilation shaft to the west elevation.

EXTERIOR: the gabled south elevation has a central pilaster, flanking pilasters which rise slightly above the gable, and an eaves cornice, all of brick. There are tall windows to the ground floor and shorter windows above. The right return is divided into four bays by pilasters, with entrances of paired half-glazed timber doors to bays one, three and four. The second bay has a tall window. The rear elevation has a timber door and metal-framed windows. Attached to the north-west corner is a low brick building. The west elevation is also divided by pilasters and has windows to the two right-hand bays. The attached evaseé has a moulded brick capping and decorative horizontal bands of brick to its south face.

INTERIOR: not inspected (2013). The fan has been removed, but the concrete fan casings and the mechanical piping between the fan shaft bearing glands survive. A small engine radiator which was used for cooling the fan also survives. The ground floor of the building has an inserted blockwork partition wall at the south end of the building, while the mezzanine floor is accessed from timber stairs. There is also an undercroft below part of the ground floor. The roof is carried on lightweight steel trusses.

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