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The production of coke became a significant aspect of Jubilee Colliery following the success of an initial battery of ovens placed against the eastern retaining wall in the southern part of the site. A battery of 26 double, back-to-back ovens was subsequently erected immediately to the north of a presumably contemporary boiler house in the 1880s, with a further extension of similar size to the north in the early twentieth century. Another battery of single ovens was also built along the eastern retaining wall in the northern part of the site, which was partially extended between 1909 and 1930 into a double bank.

The remains of a number of back to back coke ovens can still be viewed above the ground at Jubilee Colliery. The 2014 Oxford Archaeology North excavation of Jubilee Colliery revealed well preserved remains of later phases of beehive coke ovens across a large part of the site, enhancing the value of the above ground remains of the large double row of ovens that dominates the northern part of the site.

beehive coke ovens

The plate above shows a similar bank of beehive coke ovens as they would have looked before demolition. Whilst this type of coke oven was once relatively commonplace the double row battery at Jubilee is now a rare surviving example.

During the 2014 dig further coke oven bases were discovered in the North of the site next to the Fulling Mill – see photo below.

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Preservation 2014

The end of the row of Coke Ovens leading to the Boiler house became a focus for our Preservation work in 2014. This surviving cross section includes part of the flue and is a great starting point for showing visitors around the site. The end of the structure had become overgrown and was crumbling. Our volunteers and staff worked with Alan Gardner, Rupert Hilton and Paul McGiffen to re-point the end of the row use traditional lime mortar. The photo below shows the cross section of the remains of beehive coke ovens during repair.

coke oven 1The ‘newly discovered’ coke ovens have been left exposed for visitors to see.  

Many Thanks to Chris Wild and Ian Miller of Oxford Archaeology North for providing this information which is an extract of the OAN final report. The project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

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3 thoughts on “The Coke Ovens

  1. This magnificent industrial archaeologic work is virtually unknown in America, that is to our national detriment in the States.

    I have done remedial exploration work at abandoned beehive coke ovens in Pennsylvania, where individual beehive oven plants may run to several hundred (say 400) sites of beehive oven blocks of 50 to 200 ovens each.

    The historic image shown here suggests that the transatlantic nature of design and layout are quite similar and I draw attention to the existence of the fine 1993 US National Park Service HAER (Historic American Engineering Record) regional survey (Report 283) of the beehive ovens of the Connellsville, Pennsylvania region:

    1993, Connellsville Coal & Coke Region; Connellsville Vicinity, Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Written Historical and Descriptive Data; Reduced Copies of Drawings: U.S. National Park Service, HAER Rept. no. PA-283.

    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/item/pa2870/

  2. FANTASTIC We have founded a Friends of Jubilee Colliery group.Our aims are to preserve the site and educate the local population to their heritage at the site with open days, with volunteers on hand to speak of all the interest whilst at the dig and the history we have uncovered. Find us at friendsofjubileecolliery@outlook.com we welcome everyone.

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