The Mining Industry in the Huddersfield District (1929) by Disney Alexander Wray (1888-1982)

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BY Don

PRD AE BG Fils Oy i BOs

Associate Member of the Institution of Mining Engineers.


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T. W. WOODHEAD, Ph.D., M.Sc., F.L.S.







Associate Member of the Institution of Mining Engineers.



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Wie the past few years, the officers of the Geological Survey have been engaged in a re-survey of the Hud- dersfield district, and during the progress of the work, Dr. D. A. Wray has shown much interest in and appreciation of the work going on in the geological section of the Museum, and in many ways rendered valuable and practical assistance.

Dr. Wray has also collected much scattered information about the history of the mining industry in this district, and has incorporated this in an account contributed to The Naturalist (July, 1929). Much remains to be done in future before a full and detailed history can be written, but the information here brought together is not only of local interest, but such a valuable contribution to the history of local economic geology, that with the permission of Sir John S. Flett, Director of the Geological Survey, Dr. Wray has con- sented to an issue of the paper in this form, and we have to thank the Editors and Publishers of The Naturalist for their assistance in providing the reprints. :

We are also indebted to Mr. J. E. Armitage for supplying the tracing from which the Pit Plan (fig. 8) has been prepared - to Messrs. J. Morton & Sons for permission to obtain photo- graphs, by Mr. C. Mosley, of the Salendine Nook Pottery (figs. 5 and 6); Mr. W. H. Sikes for taking many photographs relating to local mining, including figs. 2-4 and 9-12.


Tolson Memorial Museum, Huddersfield, June, 1929.

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Present Day Develdpmenia 6 i os we as 24

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Fic, 1.—Sketch-map showing the outcrop of the principal seams of Coal and Ironstone in the Huddersfield district.

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The comparatively modern town of Huddersfield lies at the confluence of the Colne and Holme valleys, and along the eastern edge of the Millstone Grit moorlands. To the east of the town, the Coal Measure series give rise to a plateau of fair altitude, ‘with a considerably diversified surface. The town doubtless developed in the first instance primarily as a meeting place or market at the convergence of several routes leading from the hills ; though the subsequent development was very largely influenced by the presence of coal and other mineral wealth in its immediate proximity. In regular succession, the several seams of coal and fireclay crop out in the hills to the east of the town ; and in the past they have been extensively worked. Rather more than half a century ago Huddersfield occupied a relatively important position in the coal industry. At the present day all the more profitable seams of coal have been worked out, and the centres of the industry have consequently gradually progressed eastwards. The history of the development of the mining industry from the ‘earliest times onwards constitutes an interesting story, and may well serve as an illustration of the vicissitudes that have more or less overtaken the whole group © of towns lying along the western fringe of the coalfield.


Coal, fireclay and ironstone all occur in some abundance in the district ; and although coal would appear to be rela- tively the most important, it was the last mineral of the three to be exploited. In medizval and earlier times, the local woods sufficed for all requirements of fuel, and consequently the need for coal as such did not arise. Although there seems very little doubt that even the Romans occasionally worked coal at a few places in this country, its use to any extent prior to the thirteenth century appears to have been very

limited and circumscribed. The earliest mining records of which we have any clear

evidence in the Huddersfield district is of the working of the Hard Bed Band or 36-Yards fireclay by the Romans in Grimescar, Wood, two miles north-west of the town. This valuable bed of fireclay has been mined in many places around Huddersfield, and is being extensively worked at the

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present day in the Elland district. The Roman workings at Grimescar were discovered in the sixteenth century, and a quaint description of the primitive form of tile kiln employed is given in a diary preserved among the Dodsworth Manu- scripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.* It consisted of a small walled pit carefully arranged in connexion with a furnace, and associated with it were burnt cinders, fragmentary pottery and tiles ; the latter bearing a distinctive stamp. A large num- ber of these stamped tiles have been discovered in the Roman camp at Slack, three miles west of Grimescar, and are now pre- served in the Tolson Memorial Museum at Huddersfield (fig. 2).

Fic. 2.—Roman Tile Stamps from Grimescar Wood Kilns. The stamps are of two sizes, A and B. The holes are finger marks.

Beyond this isolated record nothing is known of any mining activity for several centuries. Thus in the great and detailed survey made in Norman times for Domesday Book there is no mention whatever of coal or other minerals. The present area, however, with the exception of the settlements at Orberie (Horbury), Crigestone (Crigglestone), and Osleset (Ossett) was within the confines of that devastated area laid waste by William the Conqueror in 1069 in reprisal for rebellion ; and the ancient records clearly show the great depreciation in value suffered by this district as a result of that devastation.

* Richmond, I. <A., ‘ Huddersfield in Roman Times.’ Tolson Museum Publications, No. IV., Huddersfield, 1925, p. 58.

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In the twelfth century there are many evidences of recovery, and the earliest documentary evidence of any mining or smelt- ing in this area, or indeed within the whole county, relates to the ventures of the various religious houses. Wood and peat were still being used as fuel, for coal is never alluded to ; while the mineral that first attracted attention was the bedded clay ironstone which occurs at several horizons in the Coal Measures of the district. Of these by far the most important is the so-called Tankersley Ironstone, the outcrop of which can readily be traced southwards from Thornhill past Overton, Flockton, and Emley to High Hoyland and Cawthorne. Less important horizons which were also worked in the Middle Ages were the bands of nodular ironstone which occur in the shales overlying the Halifax Hard Bed Coal, and also above the 36-Yards coal and fireclay. The highly important seam of ironstone known in the Low Moor district as the Black Bed ironstone covers a small area between Rastrick and Colnebridge. South of these places it dies away and is replaced by a bed of sandstone. Similarly the Claywood Ironstone which occurs in the shales above the Silkstone Coal in the Sheffield district, and was formerly there of economic importance is practically unrepresented. Ironstone nodules do _ occur sporadically on this horizon in places, but they have never been worked in this district for iron-ore. I The Tankersley Ironstone usually occurs at a distance of from ten to twenty-five feet above the Flockton Coal, and it has been worked in many places along its outcrop from the neighbourhood of Ardsley as far south as Sheffield. Its thickness is very variable, being on an average about one foot, in three distinct bands ; and occurring in about six feet of shale. The yield is stated to have been from 2,000 to 3,400 tons per acre.* It is generally so crowded with Carbonicola shell casts as to be familiarly known as ‘ Mussel Shell Iron- stone.’ No published analyses appear to be in existence, but owing to the abundance of shell casts it probably has a high lime content. As far as the meagre records are available it would appear that the working of ironstone by the monasteries and religious orders began about the twelfth century ; but it is by no means certain that the monks were introducing an entirely new industry into the district. Such a conclusion is simply based on the entire absence of any record of activities on the part of the lay landowners. In the first place the iron-ore was mined by the religious houses for use in their own

* “ The Iron Ores of Great Britain,’ Part I., Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, 1856, p. 36.

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establishments ; they held extensive agricultural estates, and the sale of iron subsequently resulted from their enter- prising developments. In the middle of the twelfth century iron-ore was being extensively mined in this district by the monks from Fountains, Rievaulx, and Byland Abbeys. The Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx dates from 1131, and within twenty-five years of its foundation the monks were working the Tankersley Ironstone at Flockton. From the Chartularies or ancient records of Rievaulx Abbey, we learn that Adam Fitz-Piers among other bequests to the monastery, granted fifteen acres of land in a place known as Blakeker so that the brethren might erect a forge for the making of iron, and forging therefrom the many implements necessary for the monastic house.* The exact site of Blakeker is uncertain, but it is further recorded that the bequest included all the iron-ore, and also the dead-wood necessary for the making of charcoal in Shitlington and Flockton, so that the site of the ancient bloomery was probably quite close to the modern village of Overton. The Byland Abbey monks on the other hand were already working somewhat extensively along the outcrop or basset edge of the Tankersley Ironstone at Emley, and in the latter half of the twelfth century Jordan de Flockton granted to them wayleave from Denby to Bentley, where their forge was situate. Bentley is one mile east of Emley, while Denby lies two miles to the north, and it would thus be necessary to cross the concession already held by Rievaulx Abbey. Thus. while the industry was still in its infancy the two religious houses found themselves in active competition, and in I1I71I it became necessary to draft an agreement as to their respective spheres of operations. Under this arrangement the Byland Abbey monks were to enjoy exclusive rights both as to ore and charcoal in Emley, Bretton, and that part of Shitlington now known as Midgley; while their brethren from Rievaulx were to retain similar rights in Flockton, Hreprouda, and those portions of the ancient parish of Shitlington now known as Overton and Middlestown. The land around Emley at this period was in the possession of the Fitzwilliam family ; the Fitzwilliams of Emley being descendants of William Fitz-Godric, cousin to King Edward the Confessor. In 1217 Sir William Fitz-William, described under his seal as ‘ Domini de Emmalaia,’ leased a further extensive area for the purpose of mining iron-ore between Bentley Grange and Emley to the monks of Byland Abbey.

* Vellacott, C. H., in ‘ Mining and Smelting.’ Vuictorra County History of Yorkshire, London, 1912, Vol. al, cee a very com- prehensive list of bibliographical references.

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Medizval Ironstone Workings at Bentley Grange, Emley.

Fic. 3.

Overgrown ironstone pit mounds, the central sunken portion represent- ing site of former shaft.

Bentley Grange, the centre of the iron-ore industry in monastic times lies to the extreme left.

Fic. 4.

A group of disused and overgrown ironstone bell pits at Bentley Springs, Emley. Originally worked by the monks of Byland Abbey.

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The ironstone worked by the monks of Fountains Abbey came from several lower geological horizons. At Colnebridge the Black Bed Ironstone was mined, while at Ainleys, to the south of Elland the ironstone worked occurred as irregular bands in the shales overlying the Halifax Hard Bed and 36- Yard coals. It is also recorded that the monks of Fountains Abbey possessed a forge in the vicinity of Colnebridge and that ‘ Ralf Fitz Nicholas of Cridling, gave them in his wood at Bradley all the deadwood required for their smelting, and for charcoal, and whatever iron-ore they could find.’*


The usual method of mining the iron-ore was to sink shallow pits close to the outcrop and then remove the mineral from the base of the shaft; the process being continued laterally by undercutting the sides as far as was practicable with safety. When the roof began to fall in to any dangerous extent the working was abandoned, and another begun a short distance away. Around Emley and Kexbrough these shafts or bell-pits were on an average forty to fifty yards apart ; and they extended to a distance of from five hundred to eight hundred yards from the outcrop of the bed of ironstone. (Figs. 3 and 4). The smelting of the iron-ore was also originally carried out in a very primitive manner. Wood, which was doubtless plentiful locally, was employed exclusively for fuel. The present area, even to-day, is comparatively well-wooded despite the close proximity of large industrial centres. The ancient records, however, clearly show that the extensive depredations made on the local woodlands became in time a frequent source of complaint, and numerous agreements made in the fourteenth century clearly defining what timber should be taken bear witness to a rigour which was not exercised

two centuries previously. In the earliest type of furnace constructed it is improbable

that an artificial blast would be regularly employed. The bloomeries, as they were termed, were placed in elevated positions or in such situations as full advantage could be taken of the prevalent winds. Later no doubt improvements would be introduced, though precise technical details are singularly lacking in the ancient records. The employment of water-power when the furnaces were built near the streams was a much later development. The ironstone industry in this district appears to have reached its fullest development in the thirteenth century, and

* Chartularies of Fountains Abbey. Full references given by Mr. C. H. Vellacott in his article quoted above.

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to have gradually fallen away later. The fourteenth fifteenth centuries witnessed the development of a new industry, that of coal mining ; while the iron forges decreased in number; and at the dissolution of the monasteries in the following century the iron industry had almost completely disappeared. I An interesting and isolated record, however, of the working of the Tankersley Ironstone not far from the vicinity of Bentley Grange is contained in some correspondence belonging to the Wortley family and dating from the end of the sixteenth century. It is here recorded that ‘the River Dearne riseth. at a place called Grange Ashe, cometh to Flockton, then to

-Midgley-Banke Smythies ; being ironworks belonging to Sir

Francis Wortley.’ The Wortley family, it may be mentioned, were connected for centuries with the iron industry in the Rotherham district. Not long after, in 1624, these workings had fallen into disuse, and since that time no ironstone has

been worked.


The earliest mention of the digging and employment of coal as a fuel in Britain occurs in the records of the early part of the thirteenth century, and refers to the Northumber- land and Durham coalfield. There are also further evidences that within the same century coal was being shipped from Newcastle to London and various other parts of the country. Thus the first allusion to coal in Yorkshire invariably refers to it as ‘sea-coal.’ Before any developments took place in Yorkshire, the Newcastle district was being somewhat ex- tensively exploited, and in these early operations the monastic houses played a leading part. At the beginning of the fourteenth century coal was being employed for domestic and other purposes in London. The pollution of the city air, however, led to numerous complaints against the innovation ; and in 1306 King Edward I., in response to a petition from Parliament, prohibited its use as fuel. This proved but a temporary check, although for the next two or three hundred years the gentry in London looked upon ‘sea coal“ as an objectionable and highly inferior fuel to wood. The earliest references to the coal mining industry in Yorkshire are to be found in legal documents of the fourteenth century. Other records belonging to that period also occasion- ally contain casual references; the first mention of the Huddersfield district appears to be that given in a Coroner’s Report (P.R.O; Coroher’s Report 215, m. 37), where it 1s recorded that a certain resident of Lepton, John Long, was accidentally killed by falling into a coal pit (colpyte) on the

Monday after Ascension Day, 1357.

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In its infancy coal-mining would be confined to workings along the outcrop of the coal seams, and many of the excava- tions would consist either of small day-eyes or of shallow bell pits sunk close to the outcrop in a manner exactly analogous to that employed in the primitive ironstone workings. The coal was at first employed by smiths and lime burners, and the monks who had at an earlier period assiduously developed the iron-ore industry took an active interest in the development of coal mining on their estates. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the coal industry had become well established, and in the Wakefield Court Rolls under the date 1402, it is recorded that ‘ twelve pits of sea coals in Horbury lyghtes are sold this year to divers tenants for thirty-one shillings and sixpence.’ Nevertheless much coal was still being imported through Newcastle and _Hull from the Durham and Northumberland coalfields. Thus coal which was brought up the River Ouse and referred to as sea-coal was being employed for burning the lime required in the building of York Minster ; native coal appearing in the accounts for the first time in 1499. Thus in this year it is recorded that fourteen shillings was paid for twelve quarters

of subterranean coals (carbonum subterrenorum) from the Wakefield district.


References to ancient coal-workings now begin to be more numerous, and in the sixteenth century records of the Court Leets in connexion with the Manor of Wakefield there are allusions to the digging of coal at Flockton in 1515. They were, however, as yet not very numerous in the immediate vicinity of Huddersfield. Wood was relatively abundant for use as ordinary fuel, and it was only for special purposes such as smiths or lime-burning that coal was employed. From a survey of the Manor of Almondbury, made by Edward Stanhope Esq., Surveyor, in Queen Elizabeth’s reign in 1584, we learn that ‘ there are not any mines of cole, lead or iron within the said Manor of Almondbury, saving a cole mine of small value digged and wrought by John Lockwood or by others, by his appointments as in the right of Francis Samwell, Esqr., her Majesty’s Farmer there.’* This was almost certainly a small crop working in the Hard Bed or Soft Bed coal in the Newsome district. Almondbury Manor was a very extensive one, and it is clear from the above record very little had been done up _ to this period to mine the numerous coal seams cropping out

in a very advantageous position along the eastern slopes of the Lower Holme valley.

* Hobkirk, C. P., ‘ Huddersfield : Its History and Natural History.’ Huddersfield, 1868, p. 135.

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Fic. 5.—Stew

and Cream Pots, Lindley Moor Potteries, Salendine Nook.

Fic. 6.—Bowls and Pie Dishes, Lindley Moor Potteries, Salendine Nook.

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In the middle of the sixteenth century great changes took place,as a consequence of the dissolution of the monasteries. All the lands owned by Byland Abbey at Denby, Flockton, Whitley and Emley were purchased by Arthur Kaye, a member of an ancient Yorkshire family, branches of which have had long associations both with Denby Grange and Woodsome ; and it has remained in the possession of their descendants to the present day. Similarly, Bentley and Bretton were granted to Richard Andrews in 1544, who had license to alienate them to the Allott family. This included Bentley Grange, the centre of an extensive iron-ore mining area, where the Allotts had for some time previously resided as the tenants of the Abbey. The land owned by Rievaulx Abbey also largely passed into the hands of the Kayes, while that formerly held by Fountains Abbey passed into the possession of the Saville family, whose descendants still own considerable portions of the original estate. Yet despite these great changes in owner- ship the coal industry continued to develop, while the latter half of the sixteenth century witnessed the opening out of the several beds of thick fireclay in the Elland district for the manufacture of earthenware. One of the most interesting of these developments took place at Salendine Nook, two miles to the west of Huddersfield. Here the Rough Rock forms a prominent feature at Longwood Edge and Lindley Moor, and at Salendine Nook it is overlain

by a thick bed of fireclay together with a thin coal seam.

The coal, though seldom more than a few inches thick, is remarkably persistent. Known in the Bradford district as the Cottingley Crow Coal, and in the vicinity of Sheffield as the Pot Clay Coal, it appears to be a continuous seam through- out the Yorkshire coalfield. A thick bed of fireclay resting directly on the massive Rough Rock invariably underlies it, and in the Sheffield district it has been highly prized for the

manufacture of refractory goods. It contains a high percentage

of alumina, and in some localities strongly resembles a bauxite.

At Salendine Nook it is a very pure clay and was worked for the manufacture of earthenware. These workings were

originally opened out by a Scottish family of the name of Morton, who were driven from Scotland by the persecution of the Protestants about the time of the accession of Queen Elizabeth. Being potters by trade they settled down at Salendine Nook, mining the fireclay underlying the Pot Clay coal, and establishing a pottery there. These were staffed in part by their fellow-countrymen, and also in part by workmen introduced from Staffordshire. For the past three hundred years the industry has been regularly carried on by the same family, and it is still being worked by their descendants. (See figs. 5 and 6).

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In the seventeenth century the coal industry continued to develop, one of the chief features being the increasing demand for coal for domestic purposes. The sulphurous fumes of second-rate pit coal, and much of that obtained at the outcrop had long proved a deterrent to its extended employment for domestic purposes. Though the records are meagre, there appear to have been numerous shallow pits scattered over the area. The art of boring was well known at this period, and is referred to in documents bearing the date 1633 in reference to the Halifax district. The methods of transport and haulage underground, however, appear to have been little in advance of those employed in medizval times, the coal being drawn up and the water pumped by means of a simple windlass. The underground workings seldom extended more than fifty to sixty yards from the base of the shaft, it being found, in fact, more convenient and less expensive to sink new shafts when opening out adjoining areas. At the beginning of the eighteenth century all the principal landowners in the district were issuing mining leases; and there are numerous and extensive records of these in the case of the Saviles, the Kayes, the Beaumonts, and the Dartmouth family. The main colliery shafts in the Flockton, Emley and Crigglestone districts appear to have been as much as 300 feet deep at this period. Evidences of primitive methods of mining are occasionally met with in reopening these old workings, and an old wooden pump, discovered in old workings in the New Hards Coal at Speedwell Colliery, Emley Moor, which probably dates from the latter part of the eighteenth century, is preserved in the Tolson Memorial Museum, Huddersfield (fig. 7). As late as this period the methods of transport underground were equally primitive ; and the usual employment for juvenile labour consisted in ‘thrusting’ the tubs, or pushing them along the ground; wheeled tubs on rails being a much later innovation. This period, however, subsequently witnessed the advent of the steam engine, and with its general employment for winding and pumping in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the coal industry grew rapidly. The demand for coal increased immensely, and with the advantage of steam to maintain a continuous blast great advances could be made in the smelting of iron with coal and eventually coke. At the end of the eighteenth century there were thirteen furnaces in blast in the West Riding of Yorkshire, including one at Colnebridge, near Huddersfield, and another at Kirkstall, near Leeds ; the remainder being in the Sheffield district. In the seventeenth century there had been a rapid development and

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growth of the iron and cutlery trades at Sheffield, and although prior to that time iron-working and smelting extended as a scattered industry across West Yorkshire from Leeds to Sheffield, the latter with superior local advantages began definitely to be established as the predominant centre. The factors that primarily contributed to this result were: the proximity of a series of more important bands of easily re-

Fic. 7.—Wooden Pump, Speedwell Colliery, Emley Moor.

ducible iron-ore, the suitability of several beds of gritstone as grindstones, the occurrence of limestone in the adjacent hills to act as a flux, and the fact that water-power could readily be obtained from a succession of streams of steep gradient. The isolated occurrence of an iron-works producing on an average one hundred and fifty tons of native iron annually at the village of Colnebridge in the latter part of the eighteenth century is of considerable interest. Thus while it represented the final phase of a local industry that had been carried on

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intermittently for over six hundred years, the factors that contributed to its successful working were those which later led to the establishment of the Low Moor Iron Trade; an industry which played so significant a part in the great in- dustrial developments in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the following century. The ironstone mined at Colnebridge was the Black Bed ironstone, and almost adjacent lies the outcrop of the Better Bed coal. This seam is remarkably free from impurities, especially sulphur, and consequently is eminently adapted for iron-smelting. The Black Bed ironstone, however, dies out to the south of here, and consequently the amount of ore available was limited, and on its removal the Colnebridge works had finally to close down. In 1796 the Low Moor Ironworks were established and commenced to mine the same bed of ironstone in the county to the north where the reserves were infinitely greater; and utilising the pure sulphur-free Better Bed coal for smelting, they produced a product world famous for its purity.


The great industrial expansion which characterised the earlier part of the nineteenth century, and in which coal and iron played so conspicuous a part, almost certainly synchron- ised with the maximum development of the coal industry in this district. All the profitable seams occur at a com- paratively shallow depth, and at a very gentle and regular inclination ; factors which greatly facilitated exploitation at this period. The accompanying plan of a local colliery working (fig. 8), for which we are indebted to Mr. J. E. Armitage, admirably illustrates the various methods adopted at successive periods in the mining of the coal. The earlier method was to drive roadways locally known as bords or straightwark, into the seam, and then extract the coal over small areas as around A, leaving large rectangular pillars or panels of unworked coal to support the roof. Ata later stage, however, the pillars r ‘ postings were removed as at B. This wholesale extrac- tion of the seam, particularly in places where the workings were shallow, led to irregular surface subsidences, and as a consequence it was only in special circumstances that this method of mining was at all extensively employed. In the earlier days of mining, the ventilation of the workings presented considerable difficulties, and it was only on the introduction of the safety lamp in the early days of the nine- teenth century that extensive mining underground could be undertaken. The modern system, which is now almost universal in all large Yorkshire collieries, consists in driving

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Fic. 8. A, ‘ Pillar and Stall’



B, Pillars subsequently removed; C, ‘ Long-wall’ system. areas represent unworked coal.

mn q es) o a d 1c] Me I <q oO wm

Plan of working in the Hard Bed Coal in the Huddersfield district.

The black

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a long straight heading in the seam, and removing the coal completely on a ‘ long-wall’ face as at C. The advantages of the ‘ long-wall’ system, in addition to the fact that it leads to more economical working, are that there is a consider- able saving in timbering, while the subsidence of the overlying strata takes place more uniformly and regularly than when the coal is mined on the ‘ post ’ system. It has, however, been found more advantageous in the present area to continue in places the ‘ bord and pillar ’ system of working, especially where the seams lie at a comparatively shallow depth. Excavations within recent years in the Huddersfield

Fic. 9.—Gin, Denby Grange, showing

sports grounds at Fartown revealed old workings containing upwards of thirty per cent. of the seam left in. Similar prodigality marked many of the older and shallower workings around Emley, Flockton, Grange Moor and Lepton, opened out during the coal dispute in 1925. The actual extent of the workings around Huddersfield itself at the beginning of the nineteenth century may be gauged from the fact that at least twenty pits were known to be working in the Lower Holme valley between Holmfirth and Huddersfield ; while none whatever is working in this area at the present day. An interesting relic of the methods of haulage and winding which were practised in the early part of the nineteenth century is still to be seen in the old ‘ gin’ (Fig. 9) at the Denby Grange Collieries, five miles to the east of Huddersfield. A long wire rope is connected to the tubs of coal to be with- drawn from the mine, and passes round a wooden drum ;

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the latter rotating on a stout wooden vertical axis. A horse harnessed to shafts attached to the crossbeam draws it round in a circle, the horse-track being clearly seen in the accompany- ing figure. This gin, which was employed both for the haulage of coal and men is still in occasional use at the present day. The methods of pumping in vogue at this period are illustrated by the pump shown in Fig. 10.. The main beam of the pump can be seen to the left of the engine house. Pumping is done by a Cornish pumping engine using steam 5 lbs: per square inch, and though apparently of quite a primitive form has been found to be most economical in working, and is still

Fic. 10.—Engine House, Denby Grange Colliery, ewes gin and capstan on the left.

in use at the present day. In the extreme left is to be seen a “gin ’ employed for the haulage of coal and miners, while in the foreground is a ‘ capstan ’ employed for the haulage of heavier materials, such as machinery, up or down the shaft. A horse is employed in driving both. The gin referred to above with the wire rope around the

drum, and the shafts by means of which the horse was harnessed to the main driving shaft is seen in Fig. rr. It is a remarkable feature to find, in the midst of our coalfield, where every advantage is taken of modern mining equipment, and at a colliery where electrical power is utilised, these simple devices still in active use at the present time, and serving their purpose both effectively and economically. Minor explosions due to firedamp, and often attended with fatal results, were not infrequent in the early part of the nineteenth century. The underground workings were be-

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coming more extensive, and much attention was devoted to preventive measures to cope with the dangers of firedamp. Between 1840 and 1850 minor explosions took place at Lock- wood and Kingsmill near ._Huddersfield, Briestfield and Emroyd near Middlestown, the Ainleys near Elland, and in the Holmfirth district. The total loss of life was not great, but a very high percentage of the victims were children under fourteen years of age. The only serious explosion in recent years within the present area took place in July, 1893, at the Combs Colliery, Thornhill, resulting in the loss of 139 lives. It was largely the result of the explosions due to firedamp

Fic. 11.—GIn, with rope and shafts, Denby Grange Colliery.

that diverted public attention to the subject, and in 1842 Parliament passed the necessary legislation to prohibit the employment of women and children in underground workings. Prior to that period both had been extensively employed underground, and probably the last local reference to the subject is the record of a Holmfirth coal-owner working the Hard Bed coal, who in 1844 was fined at Huddersfield for employing four girls aged respectively 12, 13, 15 and 17, as hurriers in his pits at Wooldale. In 1850 State inspection of coal mines was instituted, and with this the compilation of more exact and reliable data as to the state and extent of the coal industry. Thus from a perusal of the Mining Records published by the Geological Survey and Museum in 1859, seventy years ago, we learn that there were no fewer than 116 separate coal pits in the

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immediate vicinity of Huddersfield, Halifax, Dewsbury and Holmfirth ; while the production of coal from the same area

was about one-fourth of that of the whole county. At

the present day the total number of working pits within the corresponding area is under forty ; as the majority of shallow seams have been worked out, and each modern colliery works over a far more extensive area.

Fic. 12.—Miner’s Cap or Head Lamps.

Worn on the cap, also on the headgear of pit ponies. 1, Anearly type; 2, Lamp still used in mines free from fire damp.


The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed a rapid development in the more eastern part of the county, and many of the large modern collieries around Doncaster date from this period. The main centres of the coal industry gravitated eastwards leaving areas such as the present one

in a minor relative position. During a protracted coal dispute, such as that of three years ago, the number of temporary workings almost certainly approached, if it did not actually exceed that of seventy years ago; and the presence of so much vehicular transport from both near and far distant industrial centres was a faint reminder of the relatively significant position the present area occupied in the coal industry fifty years ago: at a time when the now extensive developments of deep mining in the eastern part of the county were little more than an academic


Page 28


HIsTORY OF RAVENSKNOWLE, by Legh Tolson, F.S.A., and

ScHEME FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A LOCAL MUSEUM (Second Edition), by T. W. Woodhead, Ph.D., M.Sc., has Price 1/-

ANGLES, DANES AND NORSE IN THE DISTRICT OF HUDDERSFIELD (Second Edition), by W. G. Collingwood, M.A., F.S.A. Price 1/-

EARLY MAN IN THE DISTRICT OF HUDDERSFIELD, by J. A. Petch, M.A., with an Appendix on the Nature and Making of Graving Tools, by Francis Buckley, M.A. Price 1/-

HUDDERSFIELD IN RoMAN TIMEs, by Ian A. Richmond, M.A. Price 1/-




INDUSTRY, by Gertrude Ghorbal, M.A., and W. B. Crump, M.A.

In preparation.


In preparation.

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