....

There's oil in them thar (Eakring) forests!

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....    11

Just recently was the 'Nottingham Big Day Out'. Similar to the 'Nottingham Big Night Out' where many restaurants and other businesses offer cheap for free deals, the former has an open day policy to many of the county's attractions, such as it's museums. I can recommend availing yourself of this day. I and my partner decided on taking a trip up to Dukes Wood near Eakring and later to Calverton Folk Museum on the free Sunday and both were fascinating visits.

Dukes Wood, for the uninitiated is a woodland near Eakring in north Nottinghamshire where oil was struck in Nottinghamshire just as WWII was breaking out in 1939. It remained top secret and contributed 2,000,000 barrels of oil towards the war effort. A team of oil men were imported from Oklahoma, US, to work on the field where around two hundred places of extraction grew with the woods. The American roughnecks were billeted in Kelham Hall at Newark and their story was told in a stage production which was shown in Mansfield a few years ago.

Nowadays Dukes Wood remains as a pleasant nature trail with the unusual addition of several 'nodding donkeys' which extracted the oil, scattered around the pretty pathways. There is also a small information centre which houses memorabilia about those times past. A small air raid shelter still stand near the centre. During our visit we had the great pleasure of talking to a gentleman who was actually part of the oil industry at Eakring and he was extremely informative. Leafing through the many old black and white photographs he mentioned 'Frank' who he was working with at the time. This turned out to be no less than Sir Frank Whittle who worked at Eakring for 18 months back in those days.

We were told that oil extraction only ended in 1999 and that oil was being again brought out at nearby Kirklington. Searching for oil also endures in Sherwood Forest apparently.

it always appears to me that this is one of the lesser-known and more fascinating stories about Nottinghamshire. For those not aware of it, it's a pleasant afternoon stroll in a beautiful area straight back into modern-day history and only a relatively short drive north of the city.

 

 

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plantfit    2,835

Very interesting stuff there Stu, I only live a few miles the other side of Newark and have drove passed the sign posts to Eakring loads of times, I must now pay the place a visit after your very informative discription of the place

Cheers

Rog

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Ashley    272

We went on school trip to Eakring, guess around 1958, saw the "nodding donkey's" working didn't realise the importance of such, then on to Laxton to see some olde worlde ploughing or something like that, boring! lol

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Limey    240

There is an excellent history of the oil drilling at Eakring HERE.

There was one of the American crew killed during the operation - who is also the only civilian buried at Madingley American Cemetery!

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....    11

Rog. probably the best route is to follow the road from Newark through Kirklington and then take the right turn to Eakring. It's actually a couple of miles south of Eakring signposted on the right hand side.

Eric, Great link, thanks mate. It slso illustrates the other side of Dukes Wood in that it's a fabulous place for nature lovers. I've seen it named as one of the premier sites for ornithology in Nottinghamshire and apparently it has an extremely wide variety of butterflies for those interested.

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Ayupmeducks    1,217

And a long way beneath there are the workings of several of Notts Collieries, one being Bevercotes. Bevercotes had a couple of problems for those working down there, heat and crude oil seeping into their seams. One fellow I worked with in the UK and Australia told me, when they came off the face at the end of the shift, they stripped down and used soft soap provided in 45 gallon drums to remove the oil from their bodies before coming out the pit.

In my research, I found not only Bevercotes had crude oil seepage, but several other pits, some in Derbyshire and a few in Yorkshire.

Surprise to me was Clifton Colliery had crude seeping out of a fault in workings just south of the shafts!

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mick2me    2,953

I became aware of Eakring Oil Fields, early 80's but never knew the story.

Thanks for posting a reference here.

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Ashley    272

Quote "Surprise to me was Clifton Colliery had crude seeping out of a fault in workings just south of the shafts!"

That weren't oil, it was the Trent!

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mick2me    2,953

Actually, when I first came to Notts in 1963, the trent had a particular smell, as I remember.

I can still remember that smell?

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Ashley    272

There were 2 smells as I recall, popular belief was the "glue factory" boiling up dead horses etc! but in reality either the leather works at Trent Bridge or Bitterings on Trent Lane? That said we are about 100 yards from the trent and some days theres a right pong, far worse though is the smell on the A52 near Gamston Island, some say from maggot farm?

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plantfit    2,835

Hi Ashley, I know the smell on the A52 island, come from that chicken farm along the 52 on the left as you leave Nottingham, I always make sure my car windows are shut and the air vents are switched to recirculate, Interesting stuff about the coal mines though John, do you any more info,? ie: depth of mine/coal and where they eventually ended, there is a town sign in Woodhall Spa with a picture of some headstocks on and when I asked the question I was told that originally shafts were sunk to reach coal but they had major problems with water seepage that at the time couldn't be controlled so they pumped the water and turned the whole place into a "spa" town, I will get a photo of the sign and post on here

Cheers

Rog

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EileenH    415

We went on school trip to Eakring, guess around 1958, saw the "nodding donkey's" working didn't realise the importance of such, then on to Laxton to see some olde worlde ploughing or something like that, boring! lol

We had exactly the same trip - in exactly the same year! Nodding donkeys then off to see the mediaeval strip farming at Laxton.

I remember that we were 'doing' the agrarian revolution in `istory but can`t remember how the oil thing fitted in.

However, we relished being out of the classroom so much that we tried to squeeze the last drop of fun out of everything, mostly the waving at lorry drivers out of the back window of the coach and the sharing and swapping of the packed lunch.

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firbeck    844

Great thread, the Eakring oil wells were something I'd completely forgotten about.

As a kid I had two uncles living in the area, my dad's brother Alec, who lived at Farnsfield and worked at Bilsthorpe Colliery and my mum's brother Eric, who was the caretaker at Edwinstowe School.

We used to spend a lot of time up there and on Sunday mornings we'd cycle on the tandem to Farnsfield to see Uncle Alec. Inevitably dad would take us up to Dukes Wood to see the 'Nodding Donkey's' in action, this would be in the late 50's early 60's and there seemed to be a lot of them around then. They made a loud clunking sound every down beat of the weighted end with a constant whirring of the electric motor, it was all very much Red Adair, Hollywood stuff to us kids. I remember that there was also always a pool of murky oily water around the pump end, the ground must be really polluted in Dukes Wood. I can also recall that there was quite a bit of exploration activity in the area at that time, rigs would appear anywhere, including in Sherwood Forest itself.

I haven't been up there for years, I had a sniff round in the early 90's and everything was pretty much derelict then, I'm sure they'll open up production again when they get desperate.

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Ayupmeducks    1,217

Oil is usually pretty deep Roger, a lot deeper than coal. The Collieries around the Eakring area would be around the 1000 yards deep mark. There's some old books on Google on geology that mention oil seepage into coal seams dating back to the late 1800's, so it's nothing new.

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Scriv    114

My old man used to tell me that Bevercotes produced more oil than coal in the early days, now I know why!

He reckoned that "N.C.B." stood for "No Coal at Bevercotes"! :laugh:

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firbeck    844

Looking at those rock formation charts on the Eakring site, the oil bearing layers seem to be in an upward bend in the strata, I'd be interested to know how close the Bilsthorpe mineworkings came to them, bearing in mind that the colliery was only a mile or two away, have you any maps of Bilsthorpe Ayups, pity my uncle wasn't still about, I'm sure he must have had a few tales to tell.

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poohbear    1,276

Spent many hours at Dukes wood around twenty years back...No statue or painted donkeys then...just peace and quiet.Remains today a cracking site for bird watching.

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Ayupmeducks    1,217

None of Bilsthorpe Firbeck, I do have some smaller maps of Hucknall workings into Linby, through to Annesley/Bentink somewhere. I was surprised how common crude oil seepages were into coal seams. And I mean crude oil as against oil shales "weeping" into seams being worked below them. We touched on this subject on the "Coal, Colliery and Mining Forum" a while back.

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Limey    240

The oil at Eakring collected in an "anticlyne" - a geological stucture where the strata curve upward forming a "dome". The oil bearing strata are covered by an impervious layer that causes the collection of oil! The unusual thing about Eakring was that the oil bearing strata were relatively shallow - less than 3,000 feet. In fact, one of the reasons the Brits had trouble was because their rigs were designed for 10,000+ ft. holes. The strata is also above the coal measures - which tend to dip (get deeper) towards the east - outcropping to the west due to the uplifting of the Pennines.

A classic "anticlyne" structure can be seen at Ashover in Derbyshire - known (somewhat originally) as the "Ashover Anticlyne" - it is very visible if you have a little geological knowledge, and much studied by college students!

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plantfit    2,835

Resurecting an old thread but adding some pictures that were lot to us

Dukes_wood_and_Hucknall_003.jpg

Dukes_wood_and_Hucknall_002.jpg

Memorial to the American oil men and a nodding donkey oil pump

 

Rog

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FLY2    7,287

I keep meaning to spend a Sunday afternoon visiting the site at Eakring. I well remember seeing the nodding donkeys when I travelled up the A614.

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philmayfield    547

The museum at Eakring, which I visited a few years ago, has moved from the Duke's Wood site and is now located at Kelham Hall where the American oilmen used to lodge during the war.

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FLY2    7,287

Bu66er ! Thanks Phil. It's a good job I didn't go to Dukes Wood. I did go several years ag, but it wasn't on a Sunday, so I was unlucky.

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plantfit    2,835

As far as I know the nodding donkeys and statue are still in Dukes wood,nice walk around there though anyway

 

Rog

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philmayfield    547

I think the nodding donkeys are still there but the statue has been moved, probably to Kelham, as the scrap metal merchants were attempting to remove it!

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