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Mr B. Whitaker, Manager of Tilmanstone 1929-1960

Richard Tilden Smith became owner of Tilmanstone after the colliery was sold to Tilmanstone (Kent) Colliery Ltd, which he owned, by the Official Receiver in 1925, the mine making huge annual losses at this time despite early profits.
Bernard Whitaker, originally from Wigan, was colliery manager at Tilmanstone from the end of 1929 until 1960. He was initially Richard Tilden Smith’s surveyor and “right hand man”. He became manager after Tilden Smith’s sudden death in December 1929.
Bernards’ brother, JW Whitaker, “Certified Colliery Manager and Lecturer in the Mining Department, University College, Nottingham”, wrote a book on “Mining Physics & Chemistry” in 1925 and Bernard Whitaker is credited with preparing many of the diagrams in the book.
During WW II Bernard Whitaker was a Captain in the 5th Wingham Batalion Home Guard. Eythorne and Elvington were part of the 5th Wingham. There must have been plans made as to what would happen to the colliery should the German’s had invaded after Dunkirk and Whitaker must have been party to them but nothing is recorded about this as far as I can determine.
Bernard lived in Flax Court, Eythorne with his wife Kathleen. In February 1933 DDC “approved the plans submitted in accordance with the bye-laws for certain additions to Flax Court for Mr B Whitaker”.
In July 1950 Bernard took the local press to task for keep referring to Tilmanstone as “this little pit” and pointed out that of the 1,000 colliery units under NCB control, only 150 matched or exceeded the output of Tilmanstone and by this standard alone, Tilmanstone “takes a very important place in size amongst the Board’s undertakings”.
The picture shows an event that occurred under Bernard Whitaker’s term as Manager. A party of housewives and men were invited to pay a visit to Tilmanstone Colliery, to see how the miner works. When the party arrived, the women were told that they would not be allowed to go underground. The women were furious, and told the manager so. October 1947.

Vince Croud

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