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Coal Mining in and Around Blackburn and Darwen |  Coal Mining in Mill Hill 
Bower House Fold Colliery, Mill Hill | Coal Mining in Cherry Tree | Coal Mining in Knuzden 
Coal Mining in Livesey | Coal Mining in Whitebirk and on the Cunliffe Hills
Coal Mining in Belthorn | Coal Mining in Little Harwood | Coal Mining in Hoddlesden
The Over Darwen Co-operative Society

 

​ Coal Mining in and Around Blackburn and Darwen

 

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Coal mining began in Blackburn around 1569.  The site of these early coal pits was Blackburn Moor that later became known as Coalpit Moor.  Coal had been dug out of the earth as early as the 13th century in the Burnley Area.
Around 1720 John Bailey started to build a farm on Coalpit Moor.  On the corner of the shippon was the following inscription "i b 1720".  Over the porch of the farmhouse was the inscription "i b a"1722.  Ann was the name of John Bailey's wife and their farm was called Coal Pits Farm.  Blackburn Corporation Hospital was built on land to the side of Coal Pits Farm and was built in 1894.  Today this hospital is known as Park Lee.  In around 1935 two quarrymen went down the shafts at Coal Pits Farm.  The shafts were about 50 feet deep and around 4 feet wide.  One of the shafts they went down they were able to crawl along the seams where the coal had been taken out; these seams were from 2 feet 3 inches to 4 feet and they ran for a distance of about 50 feet under the site of the hospital.
 
In around 1900 Messrs. Whitaker & Co., the owners of a Brick Yard at Grimshaw Park began to quarry some of the Coal Pits Farm site.  They ran a chain road from the Brick Works at Grimshaw Park and a tunnel under Park Lee Road (at the time called Longshaw Lane).  The chain road ran along the bottom boundary wall of the Hospital and ran to the new quarry at Coal Pits Farm.  They quarried for the fire clay that lies beneath the coal seam to a depth of 50 feet. They stopped using this quarry in the late 1950s. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s the quarry was filled in.  When the old Blackburn Market House was demolished this was also tipped in here.
 
There were four or five shafts at Brandy House Brow and Old Bank Lane that were known as 'Bell Pits'.  These pits get their name from their underground shape and would have been around 50 feet deep and between 4 and 6 feet wide.

Newspaper Extract from May 11th, 1796.
By Order of the Assignees of M. M. Bailey & Smalleys:
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION.
At the House of Mr. John Wool at The Sign of the Bird-In-Hand, in Darwen-street, Blackburn in the County of Lancaster at 7 O’clock in the evening of Tuesday the 17th Day of May, 1796. (Subject to the conditions of Sale then and there produced.)
 
Lot 1.
The property of Mr. Bailey.
The fee simple and inheritance of the estate commonly known by the name of Coal Pits, situated within the township of Lower Darwen and adjoining the Township of Blackburn now in the possession of Henry Barton and others (as tenants at will) consisting of an ancient and respectable stone Mansion or dwelling house, 4 cottages, a barn and stables, Shippon, and other out buildings and about 30 acres of land after seven yards to the fence, let at the yearly rent of £9.  In this estate is a valuable coal mine, now open, and which makes from £6 to £7 per annum clear. 
Also a building used as a factory for carding and spinning cotton and wool by a merchant of a Horse gin.  N.B. the Leeds canal will come close by the estate or through a part thereof.  And must considerably enhance the value of the same.

Lot 2.
The property of Mr William Smalley, two pews in Saint Paul’s Church, Blackburn being no.23 on the south side of gallery, and no. 52 on the north side below.  The tenant of the estate will show the same and the clerk of St. Paul's will show the pews.
 
By Gordon Hartley
 
This is a sketch that Charles Haworth did of Top o'th Coal Pits in 1846.

 

 

​​Coal Mining in Mill Hill


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 A photograph of Norfolk Street, Mill Hill. There is an old mine shaft below the back streets of these houses.

There are two deep mine shafts in Mill Hill.  The first is near Parkinson Street.  This shaft was about 280 feet deep.  The other shaft is on the canalside near Malvern Mill (now a supermarket on Brothers Street). This shaft was sunk experimentally in search of coal to a depth of 165 feet.  It was used to extract fire clay the seam of which was 8 feet thick.
The fire clay was used at the Brick Works also on this site.  The shaft near Parkinson Street was probably used to extract fire clay, as this too was on the site of a Brick Works.  There were two seams of coal at this shaft, which were in a 20-inch seam at 210 feet and a 3 feet seam at 272 feet deep.
 
Shorrock Lane
 
There was an old early coal mine just off Shorrock Lane, Blackburn that was known as 'Shorrocks'.  Shorrock Lane was then known as Bower House Lane.  There was also Bower House Fold Colliery.
 
by Gordon Hartley

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Suffolk Street in Mill Hill, there is an old mine shaft below the back street of these houses.

 

Bower House Fold Colliery, Mill Hill


 A photograph of the site of Malvern Mill in 1997.

There are three coal seams here, one is 120 feet deep, one is 150 feet deep and one is 225 feet deep.  Malvern mill was later built on the site of this colliery.
 
In 1888 the Livesey Fire Clay Works were mining fire clay out from the colliery, the fire clay seam was about 165 feet deep.  The seam was 8 feet thick and the bed of clay lay at a distance of 500 yards from the opening of the pit shaft.  Six men were employed in the mine who would have mined around 20 tons of clay a day out of the pit.  After the clay was mined from the pit it travelled 150 yards to the grinding mill at the Brick Works.  The shaft can be seen from the side of the canal bank.  Today in 1997 you can still see the winding shed but demolition of Malvern Mill is set to begin on the 22nd September.
 
I have no details about the owner or opening date of this colliery but it is shown on the 1846 Ordnance survey map.
The Livesey Fire Clay Works began in 1835.  It was started by a Mr. Pickup and subsequently came under the control of Mr. Orlando Brothers.  Mr. A.  W. Brothers carried on the business after Orlando Brothers died c.1870.
 
By Gordon Hartley
 
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A map from 1849 showing the Bower House Lane area.

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Coal Mining in Cherry Tr​​ee

 
 
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© Gordon Hartley - terms and conditions

This is the site of Livesey Hall Colliery in 1999.

At Cherry Tree was Livesey Hall colliery where shafts were sunk in 1854. In 1858 the following notice appeared in a local newspaper:
 
To be sold by Private Treaty
The lessee's interest of & in the Livesey Hall Colliery, together with the steam engine, pumps, headgear, & the whole of the working plant.  The colliery is now in work & is situated on the Blackburn & Preston turnpike road about 2 miles from the Cherry Tree Railway Station adjoining to the Leeds & Liverpool canal, & about 2; 6 miles from Blackburn.  It is held under an agreement for a lease for 21 years of which about four only are expired.  (Date 31st Dec, 1858. )  This site is to the rear of Woodlands Housing Estate at Cherry Tree, one of the shafts is capped.  This mine was abandoned in 1859.
 
by Gordon Hartley
 

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Coal Mining in Knuzde​​n

 
 A view of Lol Hoyle Colliery.

At Knuzden, there was Lol Hoyle Colliery. In around 1866 Thomas Simpson & Co. of Oswaldtwistle took over Lol Hoyle Pit that had been abandoned by the previous proprietor.  It had been called Lower Darwen Colliery.  They sank a new shaft and worked the seams towards Shadsworth and Belthorn.  This was a wet pit with a seam that was 18 inches thick and was known as the lower mountain, the pit was furnace ventilated.  There was a chain tramway that ran from the pit to Sett End, this was where the coke ovens were located.  Also at Sett End were a weighbridge and offices, this site is on Shadsworth Road.  Lol Hoyle Colliery closed in 1918 and the site was cleared in 1919.
Also at Knuzden was Knuzden Moss Colliery.  The colliery was situated in the field that faces Knuzden Moss Farm House.  To the left of this field there once stood a PoW camp.  The M65 motorway now cuts through this site.  The depth of the shaft was 228 feet.  There was also another shaft which was in the field behind Knuzden Moss Farm House, this shaft has been capped and was sunk by Simpsons in around 1854.
 
About three fields away from this capped shaft was the site of Stanhill Colliery, the shafts for this colliery were sunk in around 1874.  Also in this area were Duckworth Hall and Duckworth Hill Colliery workings.  There were also a lot of mine shafts which travelled along the full length of Sough Lane from Knuzden Brook to the Grane Road.  On the Grane Road itself there were four different colliery workings all at the road side at a distance of about half a mile.  The you would come to Belthorn Colliery which was worked by W. H. Shaw.  The Shaws had several drift mines that worked under the Belthorn and Pickup Bank area.
 
by Gordon Hartley
 

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View of the spoil heap from Lol Hoyle Colliery.
 


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Coal Mining in Livesey

 
This photograph shows the old mining site near Bunkers Hill at Livesey.

Bunker's Hill contained pits that were similar to those at Coal Pits Farm.  At the corner of Broken Stone Lane and Heys Lane was a deep coal mine which was mined for coal and fire clay and which was abandoned in April 1904.  The owners of the mine were Whewell and Taylor. There were also several 'Bell Pits' in Tockholes.
 
By Gordon Hartley
 

 

 

​​​Coal Mining in Whitebirk a​​nd on the Cunliffe Hills

 

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 A photograph of the Cunlif​fe Collieries.


Whiteb​irk Collieries

The site of this colliery is to the right of the 'Red Lion' pub at Whitebirk.  The shafts were sunk in 1872 to a depth of 408 feet.  The mine was worked for coal and later fire clay.  Drilling operations were carried out in 1865 on this site located on the Peel Estate, they found coal but did not sink shafts until 1870.  This was to take eighteen months with men working around the clock.  The colliery was originally started in the name of 'Darwen Mining Company' who went into voluntary liquidation in 1883.  The Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. took over the mortgage and carried on working the mine.  The coal under the Peel Estate was worked out, work then began on the Hole House Estate.  This land belonged to Lieutenant-General Feilden C.M.G., M.P.  The lower mountain seam was worked and employed 140 men and boys.  There were five engines on the pit bank, two were used for hoisting a cage containing men and coal up the upcast shaft.  Another engine was used for pumping water out of the lower workings.  The engine pumped about 5 - 600 gallons of water out the mine every minute.  This water was sold to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal Company.  In 1884 the society had to pay £500 for damage done by mining to seven cottages on Accrington Road, Blackburn.
 
The Over Darwen Co-operative Society.
In 1887 the Over Darwen Co-operative Society write to Lieutenant-General Feilden to request a lease to take coal from an area of Accrington Road and Shadsworth Lane.  They were given the go-ahead but told there was to be no repeat of the Accrington Road incident.  The Darwen Co-operative Society sold their interest in the mine to W. H. Shaw in 1890.
 
The Petre Family of the Dunkenhalgh Estate owned the lease for Whitebirk Colliery.  In a letter to the Petre Family from Arthur Shaw he informed them that William Henry Shaw had died on Friday, 26th May, 1893.
In another letter to the Petre Family, Shaw complains that the lease on Whitebirk Colliery is costing too much (£80 per week) and asks that something be done about this quickly.   In a letter dated 13th July, 1898 Shaw reports that the coal being mined is running out and a meeting is called at the Dunkenhalgh Estate.
On the 12th August 1893 Petre wrote to Shaw regarding the surrender of the lease on Whitebirk Colliery as coal was practically worked out.  The sum of £576. 15s. 11d. 
 
The lease on the colliery was for nine years and there were about 5 years left to run.  
Whitebirk Pit was abandoned on the 12th June, 1895, although only a small amount of top mines were worked.  The top mine was abandoned due to an influx of water. The Darwen Mining Company Ltd originally sank Whitebirk Colliery in 1872.  The lease for Whitebirk Colliery was transferred from the Darwen Mining Company Ltd. to the Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. on the 31st March, 1883.  The Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. transferred the lease of Whitebirk Colliery to William Henry Shaw & Co. in 1890.
Messrs. William Henry Shaw & Co. entertained their 118 employees at a dinner held at the Crescent hotel at Higher Intack, Blackburn.  The dinner was held to celebrate the transfer of Whitebirk Collieries from the Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society.
 
Shaw's built an overhead railway that ran from Belthorn to Knuzden for a distance of over three miles and carried coal and clay to supply the works at Whitebirk.  The first sod was cut at Knuzden at a site opposite the Church.  The building of this railway dates from around 1903.  About 60 wagons were known to run on this line, suspended about 60 feet above ground level.  A second line was planned, the intention was that it would run from Knuzden to Whitebirk, but it was never built.
 
The Whitebirk Colliery Lower Mountain seam was abandoned on the 12th June, 1895, the Upper Mountain seam being abandoned a year later.  The total depth of the shafts was 408 feet. Shaw's remained on the site until 1909. 
The first sod of the present works at Waterside was cut in May 1908 and in June 1909 all employees were transferred there from Whitebirk.
 
By Gordon Hartley

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                                                 © Gordon Hartley - terms and conditions                                           © BwD - terms and conditions
​               View of the site of Whitebirk ​Colliery.            Site of Whitebirk Colliery in 1930.                     Workers at the Boat Yard with
                                                                                                                                                         Whitebirk Colliery in the background.


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​​Coal Mining in Belthorn


 
 
 
Opened 1890-91 by W.H.Shaw & Company of Haslingden and Whitebirk Colliery, Blackburn.  The pit mined the Upper Mountain Mine in the Cat Hole, Holme Fold and Dryster Fold districts of Yate Bank.  A workforce of 28 miners and 6 surface operatives was employed.  A tram road was constructed from the day eye to a coal staithe at Tower View, Belthorn, from where coal and fire clay was transported to the brickworks at Whitebirk, Blackburn.
In 1897 Shaws Glazed Brick Company Limited was registered to take over the business.  Amongst the promoters were A.G. Shaw, nephew of W.H.Shaw, John Hall, the brickworks manager, and Alfred Hitchon of Howard & Bullough, Accrington.
 
Bethorn Drift was officially abandoned in 1901.  After 1908 water was pumped from the workings to supply the new brickworks.
 
Site: little remains of the drift entry which was sited on the bank below Cote Farm. The only trace of the tramroad is an embankment in a field above Cat Hole Farm.
 
by Mike Rothwell
 
 
 View of the site at Belthorn where the overhead railway ran from.



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C​oal Mining in Little Harwood


 
 
A photograph of what was Blow Up pit. The new building next to Mullard is built on the site of the old colliery.
 
There was a mine named "Blow Up"  situated  to the side of the Great Harwood Loop Railway Line.  The cottages nearby were named "Blow Up Cottages".  This mine was abandoned in around 1842.  In March 1883 one man was killed and another injured whilst employed to demolish the remains of "Blow Up" pit.
 
A newspaper article from November 1932 talks about early newspapers describing a dreadful accident which occurred at Little Harwood in Blackburn where: 'a steam boiler at the mouth of a pit where Colonel Hargreaves was sinking a shaft for coal exploded, killing two men outright and two others died later from their injuries'.  A fifth was in such 'a deplorable state that there is little chance of his recovery'. 
 
There was also a coal pit on a piece of land on Philip's Road.  This was situated at the rear corner of the Northrop building and was called Armistead Pit.  The coal seam was about 24" and the upper mountain seam was at a depth of 240 feet.  (This could be the Cob Wall Bridge Pit mentioned in a survey in 1874 by Edward Hull).  There are now houses built on the site of the colliery which was named after the owner of the land, Mr. James Fisher Armistead.  His home was where the Beechwood club is today.
 
Also at Little Harwood was Croft Head Pit.  The owners of this mine were Messrs. E. M. Sharpe & Co. of Little Harwood Collieries.  It was mined for coal in the mountain seam and abandoned in March 1888.  One of the shafts was at the top of Philip's Road. 
 
by Gordon Hartley
 
These houses are built on the site of Armistead Colliery.

The colliery was named after its owner James Fisher Armistead. His home was what is now the Beechwood Club.

 The grass mound in front of the blue building is where the Croft Head mine shaft was at the top of Philips Road.
 
 
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Coal Mining in Hoddlesden​



Hoddlesden Numbers One, Two and Three Pits and Pipe
 
The oldest pit, Number One, near Vale Rock Mill, was probably sunk before 1860 by J.& J.Place.  Between 1860 an 1864 new shafts were driven to reach 1' 4" coal in the Lowe Mountain Mine at a depth of 360'.  Coal in the Upper Mountain Mine, a T stoneware bed and a fire clay seam were also worked.  By 1864 two 25 hp engines, one for pumping, the other for winding, by J.& W. Leigh were in use.  The main shaft (Number Two) was sited near Holker House, with the pumping pit (Number Three) east of Langshaw.
 
A tramway was constructed in 1861 to link the pit to Roman Road (Old Sett End), and about 1872 the course was altered to a new staithe (New Sett End) sited to the south.
 
The area of working extended south-east of the pit heads under Hoddlesden Moss.  Employment in the collieries rose from 40 in 1861, to 110 in the following year.
 
Brickmaking had commenced by 1863, and by the mid-1870's Joseph Place & Sons had started to manufacture sanitary pipes, fire bricks, chimney pots, tiles, grates and related items from the mine's fire clay. Large extensions to the pipe works were made in 1887.  The company's branch line, linking the site to the Hoddlesdale railway, was opened by an 0-4-0 saddle tank, supplier by Peckett & Co, in 1884.
 
In 1897 Joseph Place & Sons Limited was registered by J.E. & W.H.Place, George Brindle, paper manufacturer, and a Rishton cotton manufacturer, Robert Clayton.
 
Mining at Hoddlesden ended in 1938 when the seams were exhausted. It is likely that the tramroad to Sett End, which had been partly used to supplyfire clayand coal to Eccleshill Works, was abandoned at the same date.
The pipe works, supplied from Hoddlesden Number 12 Pit (see below), had been taken over by Associated Clay Industries in 1937. Operations continued until closure in 1957, when 80 employees lost their jobs.  Demolition took place in 1959-60.
 
Remains: the site of the pipe works has been cleared and landscaped. However, the fenced and infilled shaft of Number Three Pit can be seen.  To the rear of Holker House is a tree covered mound indicating the position of the main winding shaft. Nothing is visible of Number One Pit.
 
The single storey dwelling at the corner of Queen Street was formerly the pipe works office.  On the opposite side of the road rails of the works railway siding remain.
 
At Old Sett End the embankment of a tramroad, running in a "Z" shaped pattern can be seen in the field between Harwoods Lane and Hoddlesden Road.  Little now remains of the staithe at New Sett End, however below Albert Street the entry to a short tunnel can be identified by the heavy stone blocks of its lintel.
 
Places' numbering of pits is difficult to reconstruct, and only numbers 1,2,3,8 and 12 have been identified with certainty.  The shafts at Eccleshill were probably included in this system, and other minor or reworked shafts were possibly also numbered.
 
Hoddlesden Number Twelve Pit
Developed 1932-34 by Joseph Place & Sons Limited.  The pit head consisted of a pumping shaft and main intake drift.  A continuous jig road ran from the colliery to Hoddlesden Pipe Works.
 
Five seams, the Lower Mountain Mine (1'4" coal), Upper Mountain Mine (1'4" and 1'3" coal), fire clay (2' thick) and stoneware (7') were mined by pillar and stall methods.
 
In 1941 110 underground and 37 surface workers were employed.  At this date the pit was producing 27,000 tons of coal and 32000 tons of fire clay annually.  Employment eventually rose to over 200 at the height of output.
 
Following World War Two the pit was taken over in 1947 by the newly created National Coal Board, although fire clay and stoneware continued to be supplied to the pipe works.  The latter seam was abandoned in 1952 owing to a lack of demand.
 
Developments under NCB included the erection of pit head baths in 1953.  Towards the end of its productive life a workforce of 103, including 88 miners, was employed.  The final mineral extraction took place in September, 1961, after which the pit was abandoned.
 
Remains: flattened mounds of colliery spoil and shale, now mainly planted.  The filled pumping shaft is surrounded by a fence.  No trace of the day eye remains.
 
The track bed of the tramroad can be clearly traced running north-west across Hoddlesden Moss.  In the field close to Holker House is a well defined embankment. The line turned at an angle to the rear of the house, and crossed the road by a bridge to enter the pipe works where staithes and an electrically operated haulage engine was located.
 
A second, manually operated tramroad ran from the pit head south-west towards Grey Stone Hill where a fire clay storage area was sited.  The line was also used as a siding for empty tubs. The cutting of this line is still visible.
 
By Mike Rothwell



The Over Darwen Co-operative Society



In 1887 the Over Darwen Co-operative Society write to Lieutenant-General Feilden to request a lease to take coal from an area of Accrington Road and Shadsworth Lane.  They were given the go-ahead but told there was to be no repeat of the Accrington Road incident.  The Darwen Co-operative Society sold their interest in the mine to W. H. Shaw in 1890.
 
The Petre Family of the Dunkenhalgh Estate owned the lease for Whitebirk Colliery.  In a letter to the Petre Family from Arthur Shaw he informed them that William Henry Shaw had died on Friday, 26th May, 1893.
 
In another letter to the Petre Family, Shaw complains that the lease on Whitebirk Colliery is costing too much (£80 per week) and asks that something be done about this quickly.   In a letter dated 13th July, 1898 Shaw reports that the coal being mined is running out and a meeting is called at the Dunkenhalgh Estate.
On the 12th August 1893 Petre wrote to Shaw regarding the surrender of the lease on Whitebirk Colliery as coal was practically worked out.  The sum of £576. 15s. 11d. 
 
The lease on the colliery was for nine years and there were about 5 years left to run.  
 
Whitebirk Pit was abandoned on the 12th June, 1895, although only a small amount of top mines were worked.  The top mine was abandoned due to an influx of water.  The Darwen Mining Company Ltd originally sank Whitebirk Colliery in 1872.  The lease for Whitebirk Colliery was transferred from the Darwen Mining Company Ltd. to the Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. on the 31st March, 1883.  The Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. transferred the lease of Whitebirk Colliery to William Henry Shaw & Co. in 1890.
 
Messrs. William Henry Shaw & Co. entertained their 118 employees at a dinner held at the Crescent hotel at Higher Intack, Blackburn.  The dinner was held to celebrate the transfer of Whitebirk Collieries from the Over Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society.
 
Shaw's built an overhead railway that ran from Belthorn to Knuzden for a distance of over three miles and carried coal and clay to supply the works at Whitebirk.  The first sod was cut at Knuzden at a site opposite the Church.  The building of this railway dates from around 1903.  About 60 wagons were known to run on this line, suspended about 60 feet above ground level.  A second line was planned, the intention was that it would run from Knuzden to Whitebirk, but it was never built.
 
The Whitebirk Colliery Lower Mountain seam was abandoned on the 12th June, 1895, the Upper Mountain seam being abandoned a year later.  The total depth of the shafts was 408 feet.  Shaw's remained on the site until 1909. 
The first sod of the present works at Waterside was cut in May 1908 and in June 1909 all employees were transferred there from Whitebirk.
 
By Gordon Hartley
 

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