The National Coal Mining Museum for England aims to keep coal mining alive by collecting and preserving the industry’s rich heritage, creating enjoyable and inspiring ways to learn for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
The museum is located at Caphouse Colliery, on the western edge of the Yorkshire coalfield, where mining has been carried out for centuries. A plan dated 1791 showing workings from 1789 to 1795, includes a shaft on the Caphouse site. It is probably the oldest coal-mine shaft still in everyday use in Britain today. Before 1827 the colliery was owned by the Milnes family, but then passed into the ownership of the Lister Kaye family, until 1917.
After 1917 the colliery was run by a company, which included the ex-manager Percy Greaves, a colliery owner in his own right. Around 1941 Arthur Sykes of Lockwood and Elliott bought the colliery and remained as owner until Nationalisation in 1947. By 1985 the coal at Caphouse was exhausted and its conversion to a museum began. In 1988 the Yorkshire Mining Museum opened at Caphouse.
It was established with funding from West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire Metropolitan County Councils, Wakefield and Kirklees Metropolitan District Councils and technical support and assistance from British Coal.
The Museum was then granted national status in 1995. Following this, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport carried out a detailed study into the Museum, and in 1998 provided funding which secured its long-term future. In 2001 the Museum received a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant of just over £4.5 million. The Museum raised just under £2 million to complement this grant. Work carried out using this money included restoring buildings, new gallery areas and the store for large machinery. In 2002 admission to the Museum became free.
The Museum employs 93 on either a full or part time basis, plus volunteers. The staff are represented by UNISON and the museum is committed to equitable relations with staff and seeks to make decisions by mutual agreement.