I last visited Tower back nearly 6 years ago. It was sad to see that the site is a shaddow of what it once was.
The story of Tower Colliery is one of fighting the system and of great success & local pride. Along with all deep mines, Tower was closed by British Coal in 1994 on the grounds that it would be uneconomic in current market conditions to continue production. Rather than accept the decision the workers at Tower, Led by local NUM Branch Secretary Tyrone O’Sullivan, decided to attempt a buy out of the site. 239 miners joined TEBO (Tower Employees Buy-Out), with each pledging £8,000 from their redundancy payouts to buy back Tower. Against stiff central government resistance to the possibility of reopening the mine as a coal production unit, a price of £2 million was eventually agreed.
The site continued to operate until the seams were completely exhausted in 2008. The buildings were continued to be maintained by the workers who still take pride in their colliery and the actions that brought about an extended production life.
In 2012 Tower Regeneration Ltd, a joint venture partnership between Tower Colliery Ltd and Hargreaves Services plc was formed. The partnership company received planning permission that year to allow opencast coal extraction on what were termed the surface workings of the former colliery site, on the pre-condition that the site would be subject to land remediation and reclamation, followed by land restoration of the entire Tower Colliery site. The land reclamation works includes: removal of structures; removal of residual contamination; re-profiling of colliery spoil tips; removal of coal workings and mine entries; and provision of surface drainage. The project will create a sloping landform to reproduce semi-natural habitats on the site, and hence prepare the area ground for future mixed-use development.