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Chislet Colliery

In 1911 The Anglo Westphalian Coal Syndicates Ltd decided to explore the possibility of workable coal seams in the Canterbury area ,after the sinking of bore holes in the area they put forward plans to sink two shafts on land at Chislet Park with the possibility of opening up The Sarre Pen to take the coal away by sea at Reculver.

Having been refused permission to do this a decision was made to move the sinking to land near Westbere Court with the road on the north side and the railway on the south these could be used to move the coal. In May 1914 work started on the sinking of the first shaft. The borings had shown that the ground to be of broken chalk full of water so the Cementation process was used whereby cement was injected under high pressure into the chalk and fissures to consolidate the ground. When war broke out in August 1914 the German personnel were removed and on 24th November 1914 the name was changed to The Chislet Colliery Ltd and sinking resumed.

Later the Government stopped the sinking after questions were asked about the German personnel who had worked there previously. Suggestions were made that somehow the tunnels at Chislet were to be used by the German military but after a visit by British authorities it was given the all clear and sinking resumed. In 1918 the first shaft the north reached the coal seam to be worked; the No 5 seam later to be reclassified as the No 7 seam. One year later the South shaft was completed by 1919 coal was being wound in saleable quantities by 1923, 223.733 tons.

With the lack of repairs and a series of strikes during the 1920 by 1929 the company was in serious financial difficulties and one of the countries mining engineers Mr Forster Brown was brought in to reorganise the running of the company and the colliery.

By 1936 saleable output had reached 486.192 tons but the war years saw a drop to 300.000 tons due to the loss of manpower with men leaving the industry to join the armed forces. (The government at this stage brought in a scheme to direct men who had come of age to go into national service to be directed into the mines “The Bevin Boy Scheme”)

After Nationalisation in 1947 the colliery was extensively modernised and by 1951 output had again reached 400,000 tons and the years 47 – 59 were profitable ones, all the coal during this period was hand filled and the manpower peaked in 1957 at 1,681.
Apart from an experimental face in the no 8 seam which had to be abandoned due to broken ground. The first mechanised face wasn’t introduced until 1963 and an Anbuahobel plough was installed on No 155s face by 1966 there were four faces working two plough faces one shearer and one hand filled.

In May 1968 the Kent area manager visited Chislet and said it was their intention to change the working methods at the colliery, the pit was to change from traditional methods to short wall retreat and it was during this period of change that the Coalboard put into action a notice of jeopardy for the colliery. From this point on it became clear that the board was going to close the colliery and try and use the men to boost the manpower at the other three collieries. On 26th July 1969 Chislet worked its last shift.


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(Chislet Colliery Village)

2009 will see the village of Hersden celebrating its 80th year; the village was planned and constructed by The Chislet Colliery Company to house the coal miners and their families who had moved to Kent mainly from Wales – Scotland- and The North to work in nearby Chislet Colliery and were living in Ramsgate and the coastal towns. The village was built as a self contained community providing its own utilities, electricity for the houses and street lights and its own sewage farm The Company put forward several schemes for the new village, the first recorded was for 200 houses in 1917, another in 1919 for 800 but by 1926 only 60 had been built, in 1928 work started on another 100 and these were completed by October 1929, it was at this point that the name of the village was changed, formally the village was known as Chislet Colliery Village, but as the name had been causing some confusion with the village of Chislet being some 2 mile away.

A new name had to be found. For some time the name of Hersden was thought to have been suggested by Mr Griff Davies the colliery secretary he reportedly found the names of Haseden and Hersing in J K Wallenberg’s “Place Names of Kent” and to avoid mispronunciation had combined the first syllable of Hersing and the last of Haseden creating the name Hersden, on closer examination the name Hersden appears on the map of 1877 relating to a farmstead later known as Walnut tree farm (now the sewage farm) and on a field to the west of the farm sloping down to Westbere as Hersden Hill, whether this is a coincidence or not may never be known.

In 1950 Bridge Blean Rural District Council built another 90 houses on the North side of the original Village, apart from a few bungalows built off the Avenue no further building took place until after the closure of the colliery in 1969. In its prime the village boasted 3 churches the first a Methodist Church then St Albans (Church of England) and St Dunstans (Roman Catholic) the Methodist Chapel has now become an excellent Neighbourhood Centre and an occasional Churches together place of worship and only St Dunstans remain as a fully functioning Church, St Albans was demolished in 1978 in preparation for the St Albans housing project.

There were three general stores one incorporating a butchers, a drapers shop, post office, and a fish shop, as with all other villages all but the one General store incorporating the post office have disappeared, The Chislet Colliery Welfare Club is now the only link with the colliery and the one public house “The Black Horse” built in 1931 in an agreement with the colliery company and in the early years the social centre of the village is now a Chinese Restaurant. The 1970s saw the construction of the St Albans council housing project and the 80s and 90s Maple gardens private housing. The major change has come in the new millennium with the construction of Chislet Gardens to the west of the village with a build of almost 300 private houses.

Ross Llewellyn.



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