Members of the Bestwood Colliery No 1 Rescue Team, complete with respirators and goggles.
The sinking of Bestwood Colliery was begun in 1871-2 by the Bestwood Coal & Iron Company (BC&IC) with coal production commencing in 1876. The mine was situated in the Leen Valley between Nottingham and Hucknall on the estate of the Duke of St Albans with John Lancaster, a Lancashire entrepreneur, the driving force behind the venture. Indeed, the Lancaster family remained key figures in the running of the mine right up to to nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947.
By a scheme of partial amalgamation in 1936 the BC&IC sold its colliery undertakings to B A Collieries Ltd, bringing Bestwood under the same control as the neighbouring mines at Babbington, Bulwell, Calverton (then under development), Cinderhill and Gedling. At this date the pit was working the Top Hard, High Main and Main Bright seams with 1,892 employed underground and 374 on the surface. The annual output was an impressive one million tons and the mine is said to have been the first in the country to reach this target. Household, manufacturing and steam coal were produced. The Chairman and Managing Director was Captain Claude G Lancaster and the colliery manager A E Booth.
In 1946 the driving of a surface drift was started and this was operational by 1951. It took the form of a sloping tunnel that descended at 1 in 4 to the High Main seam and was extended to reach the Main Bright in 1959. Appropriately, it was named the Lancaster Drift and latterly all coal was taken out this way, the shafts being retained only as a standby and to move men and materials.
In its later years Bestwood Colliery, always a 'dirty' pit, was beset with geological problems and coal extraction ceased in 1967 when it was merged with nearby Linby. Final closure occurred in 1971 when all mining activity on the site finished and the area was subsequently reclaimed as Bestwood Country Park.