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Snowdown Colliery

Building Snowdown Colliery 1907
Building Snowdown Colliery 1907

The Colliery, situated alongside the main Dover to Canterbury railway line, near to Ackolt which lies between Womenswold and Nonninton, was begun by Arthur Burr’s Foncage Syndicate in 1907, and the first sod was cut by Mrs Weston Plumptree. The first shaft at Snowdown hit water at 260 ft and flooded and 22 men were drowned. There were few sinking problems after this and Snowdown became the first commercial pit in Kent, and the first coal was brought to the surface from a depth of 1370ft, on 19th November, 1912. In January 1913 the “Beresford” seam was reached, and at 5’6” thick it enabled 800 tons per week to be mined.


miners who raised the 1st hoppit of coal from Snowdown
miners who raised the 1st hoppit of coal from Snowdown


Due to an act of Parliament in 1920, the Emergency Powers Bill, which temporarily increased wages for six months, in 1921 miners at Snowdown went on strike over the ensuing reduced pay and the company went into receivership.

They closed the colliery in 1922 but maintained pumping operations so it could be sold as a working mine. The colliery was mothballed for almost two years before it was purchased in 1924 by Pearson & Dorman Long who had started a new colliery at Betteshanger.

Pearson & Dorman Long completely modernised the colliery, scrapping the old steam winding plant and installing a powerful electric one. They then purchased a 600 acre site and a Public Utility Society, Aylesham Tenants Ltd., built Aylesham village nearby to house 650 families. Prior to this, most of the Snowdown miners had lived in Dover.


architects drawing of Aylesham
Architects drawing of Aylesham


Snowdown was the deepest colliery in Kent reaching well over 3,000 ft (915 metres). It was also the hottest and most humid pit in Kent and was given the name 'Dante's Inferno' by the miners. Regarded by many as the worst pit to work at in Britain, most Snowdown miners worked naked because clothes became too uncomfortable. The miners could consume around 24 pints (14 lires) of water in an 8-hour shift. There were frequent cases of heat stroke.

Miners in the lamp room waiting to go down 1986
Miners in the lamp room waiting to go down 1986

View of Snowdown, looking towards Aylesham 1986
View of Snowdown, looking towards Aylesham 1986

Snowdown closed in 1987.