Samuel Walter Potts was born near Edinburgh on 28 January 1912, the son of Samuel Potts, a mining engineer. He was one of four brothers who all worked in mines, including Edward who also served as a NEIMME President.
He served his apprenticeship under the Mickley Coal Co. and Backworth Collieries Ltd. and obtained a degree in mining engineering from Armstrong College, University of Durham in 1932. He gained his Managers Certificate in 1935 and from 1936-43 was manager of the Rising Sun Colliery, Wallsend. At nationalisation he became became a Sub-Area Manager, and subsequently was a Planning and Development Engineer, Area Production Manager, all in Northumberland and then a Divisional Deputy Production Manager (Planning), Area General Manager and finally Area Director, all in Durham. He took early retirement in January 1973 because of ill health.
Described by the Newcastle Journal as tough talking and “always one to speak his mind”, one of his greatest achievements was arguing forcefully and successfully for the development of the coal reserves off the Durham coast.
Sam Potts was President of NEIMME in 1961-63; President of the National Association of Colliery Managers in 1965-66 and President of the Institution of Mining Engineers in 1969-70. He took a leading part in the amalgamation of the Institution of Mining Engineers and the National Association of Colliery Managers.
He was awarded the OBE in 1971 and in 1974 the Sir Andrew Bryan award for long and meritorious service to the Institution of Mining Engineers.
Away from work he was an ornithologist, with a special knowledge of the birds of Kirkcudbrightshire.
Sam Potts died in 1975 after a long illness.
Alder, H., Potts, S.W & Walker, A. Mechanized room and pillar mining: a general appreciation of developments in Great Britain Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 110 1950-51, 729-740
Potts , S.W. Presidential address [NEIMME] Running faster to stay in the same place Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 121 1961-62, 373-378
Potts, S.W. Presidential address [IME] A good example is the best sermon Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 128 1968-69 128, 711-717
Potts, S.W. Present and future trends in materials transport Mining Engineer 131 1971-71, 547-550
(These notes are based mainly on the tribute by William Reid in Mining engineer 134 1974-75, 441 and an item on his retirement in the Newcastle Journal 31 Jan 1974, 5)