Betteshanger is a village near Deal in East Kent, England. It gave its name to the largest of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield.[1] The population of the village is included in the civil parish of Northbourne.

Betteshanger Community Park.jpg
Betteshanger Park
Betteshanger is located in Kent
Location within Kent
OS grid referenceTR3352
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDeal
Postcode districtCT14
Dialling code01304
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
List of places
51°13′30″N 1°19′12″E / 51.225°N 1.32°E / 51.225; 1.32Coordinates: 51°13′30″N 1°19′12″E / 51.225°N 1.32°E / 51.225; 1.32

Before the coal mineEdit

St Mary's Church, Betteshanger

Betteshanger parish (with variation 'Betleshangre'[2]) has existed at least since Domesday times. It remained a small scattered parish until the advent of the Kent Coalfield. St Mary's Church sits almost alone in woodland in the centre of the parish. At 'Little Betteshanger' a cluster of houses surround Betteshanger Farm and are very close to Northbourne Primary School.

Mining in BetteshangerEdit

Betteshanger Colliery opened in the late 1920s and was the largest of the Kent collieries. Miners from other coalfields travelled to Deal in the hope of finding work at the new pit, and many lodging houses, cafes and pubs in Deal put up signs saying "no miners" owing to fear of the arrival of the often dirty men who spoke very different dialects.[3] It had two shafts of almost 2,300 feet, plaques can still be seen where the shafts were once sunk. The colliery was served by a railway branch which left the main line between Deal & Sandwich.[4]

Betteshanger had a tradition of union militancy. Many of the miners who moved to Kent to work at Betteshanger had been blacklisted in their home areas after the 1926 strike, so there was a high proportion of "hardline union men".[3] It was the first pit to come out on strike during the Second World War and took active part in the miners' strikes of 1969, 1972, 1974 and 1984/85.

A sit-in was staged at the colliery in 1984 and those involved were sacked for trespass.[3] The Kent Area's NUM initially refused to return to work until those sacked were reinstated and continued to picket the rest of the country after the NUM's national executive had voted to return to work,[5] so Betteshanger was actually the last pit in Britain to return to work after the strike.[3]

Thereafter, Betteshanger became known for the brutality with which strikebreakers were treated. Posters had gone up in the village with photographs and names of the 30 men who had broken the strike.[6] It was the last Kent colliery to close, closing for good in 1989.

The village is also on the Miner's Way Trail that links up the coalfield parishes of East Kent.[7]

Village layoutEdit

The miners' houses were laid out in three streets: Circular Road, Northway and Broad Lane. Circular Road, often known simply as 'the circle' is in fact oval in shape and is a one-way street. Houses have even numbers on inside of the circle, and odd on the outside. Northway connects the circle with the rest of the world and is a short two-way street. As a road Broad Lane predates the coal mine and has miners' houses on just one side. Additionally, the former village shop is now a domestic dwelling and although numbered as part of Circular Road, sits on an unnamed stub-road which used to serve as the entrance to the colliery itself.

Betteshanger Park DevelopmentEdit

With support from South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), as part of the National Coalfields Programme (NCP)[8] a children's play area, including play equipment and a skateboard ramp, and more recently an industrial park, have opened on the site of the former colliery. Betteshanger Park has also been developed on a former spoil tip (on the north of the site). Current plans for Betteshanger Industrial Park is the proposal from Hadlow College to set up the agricultural centre, creating more than 1,000 jobs. But this is still yet to be confirmed. Local opposition to this proposal, wants to turn the site into a charitable trust with the development of free enterprise formulas and continued growth of the site. [9]

Betteshanger Sustainable ParksEdit

Launched on 6 November at the House of Commons,[10] this £40m scheme will re-develop the site of the former colliery and create approximately 1,000 jobs in the local area.

It is planned that Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, a scheme bringing together Hadlow College, Dover District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and Kent County Council will generate green energy[11] together with a Mining Heritage Museum, Visitor Centre and Sustainable Education Centre. In total, the Betteshanger Sustainable Education and Business Incubation Centre will provide 2,000 square metres of internal space [12] and provide an incubation service for fledgling businesses. The Business and Commercial Park will comprise 6,700 square metres of internal space.[13]

The development which, prior to launch in November 2013, took four years of preparation is a UK first, and aims to help regenerate Dover district, as well as the wider East Kent communities. It is planned that the project will start on site in summer 2015 and open in spring 2016. The Kent Mining Museum is scheduled to open in summer 2016 [14]

Betteshanger Summer SchoolEdit

Betteshanger occupies an important place in the history and development of organic and biodynamic farming. It was the bridge between these two forms of agriculture. The 'Betteshanger Summer School and Conference on Biodynamic Farming' was held in July 1939. It was the first biodynamic agriculture conference to be held in Britain. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer travelled from Switzerland to be the lead presenter at the summer school which was held at the farm of Lord Northbourne. The following year Northbourne presented and expanded on these ideas for a British audience in his book 'Look to the Land' in which he introduced the term 'organic farming'.[15]


  1. ^ Betteshanger Colliery Archived 23 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Coalfields Heritage Initiative Kent
  2. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/555;; sixth entry; with 'Stephen Peyntour' as complainant; the place where the alleged assault took place is given as 'Betleshangre'
  3. ^ a b c d Dover Museum – Betteshanger Colliery
  4. ^ "Eastkentlightrailway".
  5. ^ Strike: 358 Days that Shook the Nation. London: Sunday Times. 1985. p. 254. ISBN 0-340-38445-X.
  6. ^ Winterton, Jonathan; Winterton, Ruth (1989). Coal, Crisis, and Conflict: The 1984–85 Miners' Strike in Yorkshire. Manchester University Press. p. 217. ISBN 9780719025488.
  7. ^ "The History of the Coalfield Parishes". Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "New look for old Betteshanger Colliery site to create 1,000 jobs in east Kent". Archived from the original on 9 November 2013.
  11. ^ "'Green energy' for old colliery". BBC News.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Paull, John (2011) "The Betteshanger Summer School: Missing link between biodynamic agriculture and organic farming", Journal of Organic Systems, 6(2):13–26.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Betteshanger at Wikimedia Commons