The Walker Fan House
On 20th December 1941, a jettisoned German bomb seriously damaged the Walker Fan and Crab Engine Houses at Woodhorn Colliery.
The Crab Engine House was relatively unscathed, with only its drain pipes damaged by the bomb, but the Walker Fan was more seriously damaged. Falling on the Northern wing of the Fan House, the bomb destroyed the main drive motor, and its main shaft had to be straightened out by the manufacturers before it was rebuilt into its new housing.
The Walker Fan House containing the “Indestructible Fan” had been designed and installed by Walker Brothers of Wigan, between 1917 and 1919. Replacing the Capell Fan used in the Central Fan House after the Woodhorn Disaster of 1916, it was designed as a centrifugal fan drawing air up the fan drift running diagonally into the Number 2 pit shaft. A single storied brick structure with a sloping roof, the building contains two electric motors supplied by Bruce Peebles and Co Ltd of Edinburgh.
The 19th century Capell Fan had been retained as a reserve, though it had not seen a lot of use because of its much smaller capacity than the newer Walker Fan. It was very much a stopgap, though essential, replacement piece of equipment. Moves were made over the following months to make it more efficient, by replacing its outmoded Robey fan engine with an electric motor.
Essential to the war effort, mining was a reserved occupation so the pits remained fully staffed throughout the war, with Ashington collieries contributing 25% of the coal mined in Northumberland as a whole. Starting in the early months of 1942 reconstruction works on the Walker Fan and Crab Engine Houses were carried out by a team from the Ashington Coal Company working under the supervision of the manufacturers, Walkers of Wigan.