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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Mourning subdued as last Selby pit shuts
By Marcia Hughes
BBC News business reporter in Selby

Riccall Colliery
Modern Selby became known as the UK's "superpit"
The air of silence above Riccall Colliery has finally seeped below.

When the final load of coal is brought to the surface on Tuesday, it will be end of the Selby coal mine as we know it.

Riccall is the last of the five mines at the Selby complex in North Yorkshire to close down, marking the end of 20 years of production.

At Riccall you won't find any working wheels or coal above the surface.

When it began production in 1983, Selby, made up of Riccall and four other mines Wistow, Stillingfleet, Whitemoor and North Selby, was fondly known as the UK's "superpit".

It was the largest of the deep coalfields in the UK and the most modern.

At its peak, Selby employed 3,500 miners and could produce 12 million tonnes of coal a year.

However, over the years, with low coal prices and falling industrial and domestic coal demand, the pit became too expensive to run and suffered huge financial losses.

No outcry

But what's different is that you won't find Selby town in mourning.

Selby market
Selby isn't your typical mining community
It's almost as if the news has gone unnoticed. There's been no public outcry. Why?

That's because not only has it been a long time coming but Selby isn't your typical mining community that has relied on the local pit for its prosperity.

There's always been more to Selby than coal.

What's more there's been multi-million pound investments to retrain many of the local miners who have lost their jobs.

One such scheme is called the new Skillsbuilder project, run and funded by the charity the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The scheme helps miners to learn new skills whether its as a gas fitter or an electrician.

New skills

"I worked down at Selby for 25 years," says Thomas Wood.

"All I've known is mining, so this course has taught me loads I never knew before like soldering, fitting radiators and boilers.

Gas fitter training
Courses help former miners learn new skills
"At the end of the year I hope to get a job with Wakefield council."

Fellow miner, Simon Knock is equally impressed by the course.

"What's good about Skillsbuilder is that we get paid a salary at the same time we're training and so that way we don't have to dip into our redundancy.

"It's opened a whole new world to me."

Many miners have already been helped to find new jobs in the building and construction industries.

And those who successfully complete the training course are living proof that there is life after the pit.


SEE ALSO:
'Superpit' closes after 28 years
26 Oct 04 |  North Yorkshire
Can Britain go back to coal?
19 Oct 04 |  Magazine
Union expects winter power crisis
18 Oct 04 |  Business
Coal group sinks deeper into red
08 Sep 04 |  South Yorkshire
Final day of mining at doomed pit
30 Jul 04 |  North Yorkshire


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