The "Chatterley Whitfield Experience" was a part of the former coal mining museum, set underground in shallow workings and drifts.
The Underground Experience was part of a mining museum at the former Chatterley Whitfield Colliery in Staffordshire. The museum closed in 1993.
History of the Underground Experience at Chatterley Whitfield
Chatterley Whitfield ceased production on 25th March 1977, and work began to convert the colliery into a visitor attraction including tours of the underground workings which opened to the public in 1979. Many of the surface buildings were renovated and machinery was restored in its original working condition to show in great realism the life and working conditions of local miners. The Winstanley shaft provided access into the deep level workings. At it’s peak, it attracted 70,000 visitors a year.
There are two main problems with underground workings – the first is that water seeps into the workings and they need to be constantly drained to avoid flooding. The second is the buildup of highly explosive methane gas, which is naturally given off from the decaying plant matter contained within the coal seams. Both of these problems were dealt with by the nearby Wolstanton colliery, to which Chatterley Whitfield was connected. Being at a lower level, water naturally drained to Wolstanton, from where it was pumped to the surface. Being an active colliery, Wolstanton also provided fresh air via its ventilation fans.
In May 1986, the nearby Wolstanton colliery was closed. This lead to fears that the underground mining experience at Chatterley Whitfield would flood and there would be a build up of gas. A new experience was constructed using shallow workings and a railway cutting. This enabled underground tours to continue until the museum was put into liquidation in 1993 and subsequently closed on 9th August that year.
The original deep level tour area did indeed flood as predicted, and is now fully submerged. The replacement, shallow level tour remains to this day, and is the focus of this report.
The underground experience was located in the air drifts that lead from the Platt and Institute shafts below the headstocks shown in the image above.