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Chatterley Whitfield: Power House (4), City of Stoke-on-Trent

Description: Chatterley Whitfield: Power House (4)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 April 2014
Building ID: 1418932

OS Grid Reference: SJ8834353235
OS Grid Coordinates: 388332, 353242
Latitude/Longitude: 53.0763, -2.1756

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

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Listing Text


Former colliery power house (4) of 1895, extended in 1900 and 1903. Minor late-C20 repairs.

Reason for Listing

The power house at Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, constructed in 1895 and extended in 1900 and 1903, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: despite the loss of machinery, the incremental development of the building remains legible, reflecting the rapid pace of technological advance in the provision of power at Chatterley Whitfield during this period;
* Historic interest: it is strongly representative of one of key aspects of the technologies employed at collieries during the late C19 and early part of the C20;
* Group value: it is an essential component of an important and largely intact complex which contains examples of a full range of colliery structures, most of which are designated.


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 The 1910s saw significant investment including the construction of the new Winstanley shaft in 1913-15, which superseded the adjacent Engine Pit and served the workings of the Middle Pit.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

The Middle Pit shaft (originally the Ragman pit) was sunk around 1840 and re-named after it was deepened in 1881. It was one of the colliery's main drawing shafts and was used until 1968. Construction of the power house (4) to Middle Pit was begun in 1895. It consisted originally of a small single-storey building, latterly a workshop, which was extended to the north-east with a substantial L-shaped building of two ranges between 1900 and 1903 in order to increase supply as mechanisation intensified at the colliery. The generating equipment, including three turbine generators, was situated on the first floor, while the ground floor contained an engine which powered the underground haulage systems in Middle Pit. There was also an electrical workshop on the ground floor which was used prior to the construction of the main fitters' shop (15) in 1935.

Following the nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 there was further investment at Chatterley Whitfield, but from the 1960s production 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 power house (4) of 1895, extended in 1900 and 1903. Minor late-C20 repairs.

MATERIALS: constructed of brick under roofs of asbestos cement, tile and profiled metal sheeting. Most of the windows have round-arched heads and contain either metal or timber frames. The square-headed openings appear to be later insertions. The lintels and sills are a mix of brick and concrete, the rainwater goods are cast iron.

PLAN: an accretional plan comprising an L-shaped, two-storey building of two ranges which were built in two phases, and two abutting single-storey wings to the south-west; one believed to be the original power house and the other a workshop. A further small building to the south-west has been demolished.

EXTERIOR: the north-west elevation of the electric shop is divided into five bays by pilasters which rise to a moulded brick parapet. There does not appear to have been openings to the ground floor, but a window and doorway have been inserted towards the right-hand end. There have been alterations to the first-floor windows: two have been blocked and a doorway inserted into the left-hand one, the central window has been made smaller, and those to the two right-hand bays are later insertions. At the east end of the range are two plaques inscribed: '19 CW 00' and 'enlarged / 1903' respectively. The gable wall of the single-storey wing to the right has a blocked, central window which is flanked by two inserted windows. Above is a cast-iron plaque which is inscribed: 18 CW 95. The right return has three bays with a window to each bay. The upper section of the gable wall of the electric shop is visible above the wing and has raised brick coping (rebuilt in late C20) and two round-arched, wooden-framed windows below. The first floor to its south-east elevation has three windows, the right-hand one within a projecting annexe. Its ground floor is partly obscured by the lower wings, but there is a doorway to the annexe. The left wing has a blocked round-headed entrance with an inserted doorway to the right, while the other wing has two round-headed windows at ground floor and a third to the gable apex, all are blocked. The south-west elevation of the south-east range (power house) has a large inserted entrance with roller-shutters and a pedestrian door at ground floor, five round-headed windows above, each set in panels which are defined by pilasters, and a parapet. Its south-east gable wall has a blocked ground-floor entrance and four windows to the first, all with round-arched heads. Projecting metal brackets for pipework are fixed to the upper sections of brickwork. The north-east elevation is of a similar style to the opposing side, although there is a taking-in door at first floor to the left-hand bay. Metal brackets support a length of pipework. To the far right is the north-east gable end to the electric shop. It has round-headed windows to the upper floor and an oculus with a timber louvre high in the apex.

INTERIOR: not inspected (2013). The walls are mostly faced with white-glazed bricks. Manually-controlled overhead gantry cranes formerly operated within each hall and the crane rails are supported on steel columns and corbelled brick. The upper and lower concrete floors to the south-east range (power house) are carried on concrete and brick piers which extend through the basement to foundation level. Rail tracks pass through its ground floor, and there has been some division of the space with blockwork walls. Concrete engine plinths survive to both floors, although the engines have been removed. The north-west range (electric shop) has a concrete floor and is open to the roof, but it formerly had a first floor. The roof throughout has lightweight steel trusses and tie bars, although the south-east range has timber purlins and rafters of c.1980. The roof at the junction of the two ranges is supported by steel columns and horizontal beams, with decorative steel brackets between the columns and the beams. The building retains historic fittings such as early electrical conduits, light fittings, a wrought-iron spiral staircase, mounting boards and quarry floor tiles, some of which are very decorative. The single-storey wings are attached transversely to the south end of the electric shop and are also accessed from there. One retains late-C19 timber king post trusses, but the roof to the other was not accessible (2001).

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