Pit shafts at Kellingley Colliery are set to be sealed forever

PIT shafts at Kellingley Colliery are set to be sealed with concrete following the closure of the country's last deep coal mine.

Hydroblast workers at Kellingley Colliery (from left) Ross McDonald, Ashton Coetzee, Ken Verity and Gerald McDonald. Pictures: Bruce Rollinson.

Kellingley Colliery was closed on December 18 last year, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, including 450 coal miners who worked up until its final day.

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Northallerton-based company Hydroblast prepared one Kellingley pit shaft for sealing with concrete last week and is currently preparing the second.

Water jetting company Hydroblast, Yorkshire’s only hydrodemolition company, is using an ‘Aqua Cutter’ robot to create holes in the pit shaft wall using high pressure water jets.

The robot delivers 260 litres of water a minute at 1,000 bar pressure. Water jetting is being used as drilling would damage steel bars reinforcing concrete in the shaft wall. Newly-poured concrete will seep into the holes and act as a plug to strengthen the concrete seal. Hydroblast owner Gerald McDonald, 57, said: “It is an eerie and spooky feeling down that shaft. Thousands if not millions of coal went up the shaft and now it is finished. It was quite emotional. I never thought I would be involved in such a project. That’s the deep shaft coal industry finished.”