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Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire
and Leicestershire


Part Of Burdett’s Plan

Expansion Of Mining

Obviously there was a need for the coal and the industry was expanding rapidly. At this time Mines were being sunk to the north in Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire and competition was found as there was still no easy way to get the coal away to other districts other than the local area.


Enclosures Award

1779 was the year of the Enclosures Award. It was also the year when the Erewash Canal opened from Trent Lock to Langley (Mill) Bridge. By May of the year West Hallam coal was being transported in 30 ton barges to be delivered in 3 to 4 days at Loughborough wharf at plus 9s 0d (45p) a ton. Denby coal sold for 6s 1d a ton soon afterwards. This brought huge competition for the coal owners as now those on the Derbyshire side of the River Erewash were able to sell their output in Nottingham at a reduced rate by transporting it by barge along the new canal and onto the River Trent.

Goyte Moss

In 1780 the Goyte Moss coal mine was leased by the Duke of Devonshire to Robert Longden and Richard, Isaac and Edmund Wheeldon. Full and free liberty was given to them ‘to dig, sink or make any pit or pits, trench or trenches, sough or soughs, grove or groves, drains or levels for the working, obtaining and getting and selling of the said coal and coal mines as for the working and carrying away the water there from’, for 20 years.

Court Granville

Bernard Dewes took over his late father’s estate to the north of Swadlincote in 1780 where there were First and Second Far pit and Gin Closes pit. He opened a further pit at Swadlincote Common. This was Court Granvilles colliery.

Stanton, Bretby and Greasley Common

William Nadin purchased some 200 acres of land with the mineral rights at Stanton (South Derbyshire) from the 5th Earl of Chesterfield. The previous owner Capt Philip Barnes died in 1770 but his widow continued to live at Brizlington Hall until 1785 when she vacated the property to allow William Nadin of Yorkshire to live there for the remainder of the lease.

Around this time and to c1800 there were mines at Bretby and in the ‘Stockings Plantation’ area to the east of Brizlincote Hall. Joseph Nadin confirmed later that his predecessors had worked some mines at Hartshorne.

Large areas of land and minerals were held by the Gresley family at Church Gresley in 1773. Sir Nigel Gresley (1725-1787) and his eldest son Sir Nigel Bowyer Gresley (1753-1898) were working coal at the outcrop of the Ell and Dicky Gobler seams on Gresley Common by 1780.

(1800 when Nadin and his family moved to Gresley Hall). In 1794 Mrs Barnes signed over to William Nadin who owned several pits at Newhall and Stanton.

Discovery Of The Dunsil Seam

In the same year 1780, an old Hard Coal pit in the field opposite to the later Silverhill mine was deepened by Webster and Goodwin, to find the next coal seam as they knew they were running out of workable reserves in the Top Hard seam. 

At 30 yards (27m) down they found a good seam of coal and named it after the farm nearby, called Dunsill (or Dunsell and several other different spellings). The farm was later called Silver Hill. The seam was about 3ft 6in thick (1.07m) and became known as the Dunsil seam.  A heading was driven in this seam to the rise at 1in 6 and a new shaft was sunk known as the Quarry pit to the side of Silver Hill Farm.  This shaft was searched for, but never located. This was the first Dunsil or Dunsill mine and began working in 1781.  Headways were driven out to the north and south from these shafts and the water which was little at first began to increase and eventually rose up the Hard Coal shaft and ran off into the old Top Hard hollows (or waste) and eventually into the New Inn Level sough. Likewise a search for the sough on several occasions by me (Assistant Surveyor at Teversal colliery), then with Bernard Bailey (Teversal colliery Surveyor) and Stan Brunskill (Area Geologist) in the 1960s using a variety of methods failed to reveal it. Further investigations this time accompanied by a Mines Inspector, Bob Bower, who was interested also failed. Maybe shallow boreholes could have located it but the powers that be would not bear the expense so it still lies hidden. Maybe the modern geophysics machine as used for archaeological digs could locate it.

Wingerworth Iron Works

Joseph Butler (1763-1837) of Killamarsh and his partner George Matthews took over the lease of the Wingerworth iron works. L shaped iron rails were introduced for the trucks to run on.


Greasley colliery near Eastwood (Nottinghamshire) was closed in 1780 and was probably opened around 10 years before.

South Derbyshire

Pits in South Derbyshire were located at Coal Pit Close and Perkins Coal Pit Close. A plan shows 4 pits, an engine and 2 drainage levels in Big Clover Close south of Perkin’s Pit Close. Old pits located in First and Second Far Pit and Gin Pit Closes.

At Oakthorpe Robert Staley was Bailiff. Five small pits were shown on Burdett’s Map in Oversetts and Stoney Dale areas. Stanton colliery was sunk deeper.

Sinkings in 1780

  • Granville (South Derbyshire) (...?)
  • John Coke sank Pinxton No1 pit (Sleights) to 60 yards (55m) deep. 
  • A new Dirty Hucknal colliery (Mellers) was sunk at Huthwaite (Nottinghamshire) replacing an older mine (sunk in 1761?). 
There would be a cluster of some 22 shafts sunk in the area by the Hucknall Coal Co and the Mellers family over the next century.  The depth to the Top Hard seam varied between 24 and 60 yards (22 and 55m).  At the top of Commonside around the Church a further 18 shafts and were sunk.  An adit was driven to the Hucknall Common coal, a seam above Top Hard? (date unknown, and never located) from near the pit lane to the later New Hucknall colliery sunk in late 1800s.

William Abney of Measham opened a colliery on land close to Coalfield Farm, Agent G Rawlinson.

Marquis of Rockingham
Marquis of Rockingham (Whig) 1782



Prime Ministers:

  • Marquis of Rockingham (Whig) 1782.
  • Earl of Shelbourne (Whig) 1782-1783.
  • Duke of Portland (Coalition) 1783.
  • William Pitt (Tory) 1783-1801.


At Ripley a drift was cut to intersect the old Hard coal.  Marehay colliery was 110 yards (100m) deep to the Hard coal, whereas at Hartshay Foundation it was 95 yards (87m).  Pits were also at Hill Top and Haslam’s Foundation (Pentrich).


The Furnace pit sunk in 1753 by Webster and Goodwin at Fackley (Nottinghamshire) was closed in 1782 after 27 years.

Wages for Gangers

J Knighton was paid 1s (5p) a day at 11 years of age at one of the Eastwood pits in 1782 where he worked as a haulier from 7am until 8pm, 6 days a week. Two years later his pay had risen to 1s 8d (8⅓p) a day.

Donkeys and Ponies

Probably because he may have been in charge of a donkey, ass or pony or even a horse as they were being introduced at some of the larger mines in the region.

However the poor animals would probably have had ‘a one way ticket’ as a plate from the past shows a terrified horse being slung into the shaft as it was too big to ride on the receptacle used for hauling coal.

The donkey to the left looks resigned to its fate.


The Canal at Ashby Woulds was begun to oppose the competition from the north.

The Trent Navigation Co was founded in 1783.  A side cut was built to Lord Middleton’s pits at Cossall in 1783.

South Derbyshire

The Stanhopes sold their mining interests in Newhall, Stapenhill and Hartshorne (South Derbyshire) to William Nadin who developed Newhall colliery. Stanton colliery (J and N Nadin); Francis Rawdon (Hastings) was created Baron Rawdon of Yorkshire on 4th March 1783. (Hastings was the name from 4th Feb 1790). Rawdon colliery sunk later was named after him.


William Petty
2nd Earl of Shelburne
Duke of Portland William Pitt

There was a short Whig Parliament followed by a Coalition Government in 1782 - 1783.  A long Tory Government followed until 1830.

Plans of Mines

In the late 1780s it was suggested that accurate plans of mines be made. The idea was ignored by the majority of the mine owners and it would be many years before this was carried out. Of course some plans of mines were made but the accuracy of the position of the workings was in doubt and at many mines unknown old workings were encountered.

Generally as stated previously the only thing that the owners were interested in was profit from the proceeds of the coal. For the important landowners a generalised area of working would have been drawn on a plan but it would be very sketchy and probably above all inaccurate as to the true workings of the mine.

A plan made by William Fairbank 1785 of Coal Aston (North Derbyshire). Part of Sundry Closes belonging to Samuel Shore Junior Esq, extent of colliery therein Stannyfield 7.99 acres was got by Godfrey Booker and 0.08 acres by John Cartledge; Coal Aston Silkstone accessed by 2 adits, 1785.

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Pit Terminology - Glossary