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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913



Fatal Accidents 1833
Accident at the  Drum and Monkey Pit

There was a terrible accident at the Drum and Monkey colliery (Diminsdale Colliery Co?), Tibshelf on Saturday morning 2nd March 1833.  A bantle of nine young men and boys was being lowered into the mine in a basket and had only been let down about 5 yards when the winding drum became disengaged from the winding engine and the carrying basket crashed to the bottom of the shaft with great speed.  Unfortunately the winding wheel was also wrenched away from the wooden headgear and that too fell down the shaft onto the poor unfortunates. Only 2 young boys were brought out alive but one of them died before he reached home. It is remarkable that only a few minutes before 4 men had descended the pit in safety.

The inquest was held at the Crown Inn, Tibshelf and a verdict of accidental death was recorded.  The following were all buried in the churchyard opposite the west door: 

  • Joseph Ashmore aged 30 years.
  • George Ellis aged 21 years.
  • Jesse Boot aged 17 years.
  • W Wood Boot aged 15 years.
  • James Ashley aged 14 years.
  • William Mellors aged 11 years.
  • Thomas Stocks aged 9 years.
  • William Wass 9 years.
  • Thomas Wass aged 9 years.
In a poem written by Robert Straw on the occasion, it was stated that thousands attended the mournful sight. The pit is a nickname as it was near to the Drum and Monkey public house that then existed on the bottom end of the village on the way to Blackwell.

Fell Down Shafts and Survived

Prior to this, from notes on old Tibshelf by George H Reynolds, one man fell down a Gin pit and his life was saved only by the fact that he fell on a donkey, but it was bad for the donkey. 

Another fell down another shaft and the wind got inside his smock and buoyed him up like a balloon, so that he ‘sailed down quite gently’. The pits were only 20 to 30 yards (18m to 27m) deep.

Other Fatal Accidents

  • Brampton Moor.  James Brocklehurst a collier at Brampton Moor pit near Chesterfield was about to descend the shaft at 4 o'clock in the morning and when told to hold on to the rope for the purpose of swarming down, but the turn barrel not being properly secured and the rope getting at liberty, the poor man was precipitated down to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of 45 yards, and killed on the spot.
  • Brinsley (Barber and Walker) (Overlooker William Rigley), B Benistone (39) collier was severely burnt by wildfire (methane gas) 15th May 1833 and died from his injuries 1st Jun 1833. It would appear that after being initially treated by Mr Davenport, a surgeon employed by the Overlooker, the second surgeon Mr Boden was asked to attend but failed to see him for 6 or 7 days. He left a widow and 8 small children.
  • Calow. On Friday afternoon 26th Feb 1833 two workmen employed at the colliery belonging William Clarke at Calow were coming up the shaft on the chain (by which the corve is suspended) when it suddenly snapped and the unfortunates were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft. One man died immediately and the other died whilst being conveyed home albeit that he was cared for by a Surgeon, Mr Riley.
  • Newthorpe, Eastwood (Barber and Walker), Thomas Clifford (16) worked at another pit but on that fateful day went to this pit to assist his brother holeing so that they both might holiday next day, however he was killed when a huge section of roof fell at about 8.30pm and buried him and 3 others. He was under such a large lump of bind that it took 8 men to remove it, 20th Feb 1833.
  • Pentrich pit. A further death occurred at Pentrich pit owned by the Butterley Co on 30th May 1833, when the clothes of the deceased William Atkin were engulfed in fire in consequence of an explosion in the engine shaft.
  • Pinxton, James Gaskin (boy) fall of roof ? May 1833.
  • Shipley.  On 6th June 1833 William Truman died at Shipley pit when a fall of roof buried him. He survived for about 5 hours and left a widow and nine children.
  • Watnall (Barber and Walker) Edmund Varley (9) ass driver, dreadfully injured when he and the ass were buried under a fall of roof on Friday but did not die until Sunday 18th Aug 1833.Hannah-P
  • West Hallam pit on 11th June 1833 the Engineer Joseph Shelton was down the shaft of the engine pit for the purpose of doing some repairs to a part of the machinery and whilst doing so fell from the rope on which he went down the shaft, a distance of 60 yards and was instantly killed.

Benk faces are referred to at Blackwell in the Main Hard coal bed.

Collieries Sunk or Opened 1833

  • (Old) Skegby Wharf pit (Dodsley, Lord of the Manor).
  • Church Gresley colliery (Marquis of Hastings) sinking in South Derbyshire.
  • Eastwood 1831-1833 (Barber, Walker and Co) (Nottinghamshire).  
  • William Matthews opened several shallow pits between Calke and Staunton Hall, the Heath End collieries. There would be 8 pits eventually working the Heath End seam that included 7’ 0” (2.13m) of cannel coal.

Collieries Closed 1833

  • Crich Cliff (…?).
  • Dog Kennel pit (…?) near Pinxton.
  • Newlands (Butterley Co).
  • Oxclose (James Ward) No1 – No 6 banks and 1st ending to 3rd ending, one level and a board (bord), area worked 1 acre 3 roods 8 poles.
  • Skegby colliery, Dunsil worked to January 1833 by the Old Skegby Colliery Co, Surveyor William Dodsley.
  • Coal Aston coal got by Edward Manhale and partly by James Baggaley to 12 Apr 1833. Most of the pits around Gresley Common had closed by this time.

Leicester and Swannington Railway

The Leicester and Swannington Railway opened fully in 1833 and the coal could be transported from the Leicestershire pits cheaper than by canal.  It ended the previous domination of the North West Derbyshire pits market. Alarm bells started to ring, as in 1830 when a £100 share in the Erewash Canal Co was worth £1,300.


Output for 6 months to 30th June 1833:

  • Bagworth 1,380 tons, ave 55 tons per week.
  • Ibstock 4,320 tons, app 165 tons per week.
  • Snibston 1,110 tons app 45 tons per week.
  • Whitwick 7,645 tons app 295 tons a week.


Rough Plan

A rough plan at the Records office shows coal got by Mr T Wearmouth at Newbold belonging to Rev’d G Heathcote dated 6th January 1834. There were 2 pit shafts off Duke of Devonshire Lane plus one shaft at the other side of the road leading from Chesterfield to Newbold.


Mundy’s four pits at Shipley (North Derbyshire) produced 45,000 tons in the year 1834 making a profit of £5,733 or 2s 6d (12½p) a ton.

Coal Gas Used For Cooking

For the first time coal gas, produced at Gas Works and stored in Gasometers began to be >used for cooking as well as lighting. Gas lighting as opposed to electric lighting would last in parts of the country until the late 1950s. For example my wife Mary lived in an end terraced house at 2 Park Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield where they had gas lighting downstairs until 1956 and used candles upstairs. They had a w.c upstairs and also had a bath upstairs but no water supply to it, so all hot water had to be obtained from a copper at the side of a coal burning Yorkist fireplace and carried upstairs in buckets. Primitive? In comparison the semi-detached house where I was born, 19 Fairfield Road, Sutton-in-Ashfield in1936 had electric lighting and a ground floor indoor w.c. and bathroom with hot water on tap. The heating of course was a coal fire, likewise of a Yorkist design with oven but no copper, the hot water supplied from a tank in the roof space.


President of Board of Trade, Charles Pollett Thompson (Tory), 1834-1835.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1834

  • Church Gresley New pit, original pit sunk in 1829? 1823/24? (South Derbyshire) (Marquis of Hastings).
  • Eastwood (Nottinghamshire) (Dr Manson owner to 1839) 108 yards (99m) to Deep Soft, 122 yards (111m) to Deep Hard, 170 yards (156m) total depth.
  • Handley Wood coal and ironstone.
  • Newfield near Donisthorpe (Leicestershire).
  • Portland No5 (Nottinghamshire) (Butterley Co).
  • New Whitwick colliery (Leicestershire) in May.

Closures in 1834

  • Blue Clay (…?) clay and coal.
  • Ripley (Butterley Co) Deep Soft, Deep Hard.
  • Upper Hartshay (Butterley Co?) Soft coal, met old hollows worked by Messrs Mold.
  • Whymsey and Engine pits near Padley Hall


The Moira to Gresley Turnpike Act of 1834 allowed for wagons passing  from Overseal to coal pits and limekilns belonging to Marquis of Hastings on Ashby Woulds to pay 2d (1p) a wagon. This concession would be extended by the Act of 1864.

Smoile Wood pit became a Pumping shaft, the Middle Lount area exhausted.


Benjamin Chambers Senior, of The Hurst, Derbys, (died 4th December 1834 aged 92), referred to as an Agent (of coal) at Tibshelf.  Benjamin Chambers Junior, of Red Hill, (died 21st February 1834, aged 37).

Fatal Accidents 1834

  • Babbington (Thomas North), Thomas Bale (20) engaged on the waggon way in the pit bottom and whilst going down a slope the rail gave way and the full waggon of coal fell on him and killed him. One of the men working nearby had offered him help with the waggon but he had refused. The man came originally from New Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire and had gone under several names, 20 Aug 1834.
  • Portland No4 pit (Butterley Co), James Holland (12) and Aaron Wardle (14) both employed driving ponies pulling corves of coal to the shaft. They were taking empty corves back to the coal face where the men were working at about 4pm when there was an explosion of firedamp as a lighted candle came in contact with the foul air (firedamp). James Holland, Aaron Wardle and David Rhodes and John Wardle and also the ponies were severely burnt. John Wardle survived but the other three died of their injuries, 4 Jun 1834. No doubt the ponies were destroyed.
  • Dunsill pit, Skegby (John Dodsley), Joseph Green (15) and another youth about the same age after they had finished work on the Wednesday afternoon about 4pm got into the chains in readiness to ride up the shaft. After they had ascended about 30 yards (27.5m) part of the tackle fixed to the chain above their heads caught on a piece of wood placed to steady the pumps and it pulled out the bottom end of it and it hit the deceased. He was knocked out of the chains but grabbed hold of the wood for perhaps a minute then he fell to the bottom of the shaft and the piece of wood weighing about 3 stones fell on him. A man in the pit bottom hearing a scream went to the shaft just as the boy crashed at his feet and pitched on his face. There was a large fracture on his forehead and he was pronounced dead, 4 Jun 1834.
  • Skegby (John Dodsley) sunk recently in 1833, Thomas White (16) at work in this pit for the first time was killed under a fall of roof weighing approximately 3 hundredweight, 3 May 1834.


In 1835 Edward Miller Mundy was sending coal from his mines at Shipley in Derbyshire via the Grand Junction Canal and its connections to Newport Pagnell, Buckingham and London.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1835

  • California (Leicestershire) about this time.
  • Carnfield (Messrs Coke and Co), Alfreton, about a mile to the south of Carnfield Hall, Hard coal 123 yards (112m), top soft 1’ 0½”, batt or scud 1½”,  seconds hard coal 1’ 0”, best hard coal 1’ 4½”  (0.32m, 0.025m, 0.30m, 0.42m); Soft coal   tops 1’ 6”, batt 3”, bottoms 2’ 0” ( 0.46m, 0.08m, 0.61m).
  • Heath End (John Lancaster & Co)
  • Tom Lane or Duckmanton Colliery (on cross roads, near Duckmanton).
  • Newmarket (...) near Clay Cross.

Collieries Closed in 1835

  • Abbotsford (…?) Peacock seam.
  • Birchwood (Humphrey Goodwin) Deep Soft, Surveyor JA Twigg June 1835.
  • Bulguy, Skellingthorpe ( .. ) Deep Soft, Deep Hard.
  • Denby Old Hall (Lowe) Minge, Top Soft, Deep Hard.
  • Job Lane (JB Troughton) 4th Sep 1835, Joseph Cookney Mining Agent.
  • Newbold (T Wearmouth).
  • Lord Middleton’s pit at Trowell 140 yards (128m) deep.
  • Wearmouth (owner T Wearmouth) Chesterfield.
  • White Lane and White Lane End (Morewood), Swanwick.  

Church Gresley

The Moira Co purchased Church Gresley from George Gregory who had failed in 1831 for £8,000. Edward Mammott who was Steward and Agent died and John Thomas Woodhouse was appointed to succeed him. The pit was sunk to 270 yards (247m) in 1829 to the 6’ 0” (1.83m) thick seam.

Best coal at the pit bank was sold for 5½d (2.3p) per cwt, Over coal and best cobbles for 4½d (2p), riddled slack for 3d (1.25p) and fine slack for 2d (1p) a cwt.
Stephen Evans was Ground Bailiff.
There were 80 employees including 20 boys aged between 8 and 17.
Door boys working from 6am to 7pm received 8d (3.33p) per day.
The boys descended the 236 yards (216m) deep shaft sitting in iron hoops fastened to flat winding ropes.
Minor gas explosions were common.

In 1835 there were pits working at Heath End, Lount, Newbold, Peggs Green and Smoile.


A Select Committee was appointed by the House of Commons in 1835 to inquire into accidents in mines.

Mr Barnes's Pit

At Mr Barnes’s pit at Ashgate, Chesterfield, primitive wooden shovels were still used.  Robert Milward living in the vicinity was listed as a corn miller and coal master.

William Harrison (of Staveley) was listed as a collier at Tibshelf.

The Geological Survey

The Geological Survey was inaugurated in 1835 to make surveys and maps and to collect and preserve minerals and rocks etc. Derbyshire was an ideal area in which to carry out some of the duties laid down.

West Hallam Area

In the West Hallam area (Derbyshire) after Close pit (Cann’s) and Close pit (Hallam’s) had finished, the workings were carried on at:-

  • Stoppards pit at far end.
  • Brickhill pit.
  • Orchard.
  • Coppice.
  • Simonfield 1 and 2 pits. 

Piper Dogtooth and Furnace coals were worked at some and at the Wood pit the Brown rake ironstone bed was worked also

  • Coppice No16 pit was worked by William and Matt Warren.
  • Engine Close pit (Thos Gregory).
  • Wharf Close (William Lings).  Railway gang lines ran from these pits to Wharfs by the canal.
  • Lewcote Gate pit was situated on High Lane. 
  • Charles Ling’s Engine Ground was South of pit opposite Lowcote Gate .
  • Robert Evans’ Engine Close on the North East side of High Lane, midway between Moor’s Bridge and Lowcote Gate. 
  • Gin Ground pit was in the same area.

Steam Winding Man
Robert Peel


Prime Minsters:-

  • Viscount Melbourne (Whig) 1834.
  • Sir Robert Peel (Tory) 1834 - 1835.
  • Viscount Melbourne (Whig) 1835-1841.

President of Board of Trade, James Brown Ramsay Dalhousie (Whig) 1835.

More Horses Underground

More horses began to be employed underground. Unfortunately some of the shafts were so narrow that the horses would not fit on the cage or skip etc so they had to be slung, a terrifying experience and obviously one that would not be experienced coming back up the pit. Note the number of men required to truss the animal and roughly at that, as it can be seen that the ropes binding it would no doubt cut into the horse’s flesh whilst it was being lowered down the shaft.

Turkey Field

Turkey Field colliery (Thomas Webb Edge) is shown on a plan dated 1835 made by John Boot, Mineral Surveyor of Skegby. There is mention of a horse back fault to the south.

Another pit mentioned was worked by Thomas North and Thomas Wakefield at Strelley, probably the one called Strelley Park colliery, previously worked by Barber and Walker.

1835 was another good year for coal generally throughout the country


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