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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913



Codnor Park

The Rev’d Leigh Hoskins was Master of mines at Codnor Park (leased to the Butterley Co). John Woodhouse was Viewer. Listed from north to south were: -

  • Coke pit
  • Hope pit
  • Bye pit
  • Engine pit
  • Pit 82 yards (75m) deep
  • Sow pit
  • Pit 95 yards (87m) deep
  • Pit 84 yards (77m) deep
  • Pit 67 yards (61m) deep
  • Pit 60 yards (55m) deep
  • Golden pits
  • Nailer pits opposite
  • Old Codnor Castle

Pits Running North Of The Castle Included

  • Nailer
  • A cluster of 5 pits
  • Golden 60 yards (55m)
  • Coke pit 67 yards (61m)
  • 84 yards (77m)
  • 95 yards (87m)
  • Redgates Foundation pit 82 yards (75m)
  • Engine and Bye pits
  • Furnace coal
  • Engine pit No1
  • Old workings laid on by Mr J Smith’s directions
  • DC shaft 40 yards (37m), note – dialled (surveyed) on 25 Nov 1840.

Nottinghamshire Map

On the Nottinghamshire map, coal pits are shown to the North West of Nottingham at Wollaton, Radford, Broxtow(e) and Strelley areas. Thomas Webb Edge Esq had Hard and Soft coal pits at Strelley. John Boot was the mineral Surveyor.

In 1840, Awsworth at 50 yards (45m) deep and owned by Thomas North was one of the largest collieries in the district, with 90 boys being employed in one pit and 40 at the other. 

Bond System and Butties 

The Bond system was still in evidence locally in 1840, as two boys, brothers named Hawkins were Butties, experienced miners, set on and contracted to the Owner or Manager of the mine to produce coal at the cheapest rate, pay the men and arrange for bound or tied to a Butty for a period of 12 months. the mine to be supported etc, and they were not only powerful but quite well off and were able to buy houses, something unheard of for a common mineworker. £1 in 1840 would have the spending power today in 2010 of around £55.

Most pits in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were working 14 hours a day or more and it was common practice to pay wages out in Public Houses on Saturday night, at fortnightly or even monthly intervals, the Butty insisting drinks were taken first!  Later the paying out from the ‘tin’ would take place at the mine where the men would sit round and the Butty would apportion the money according to the job done, keeping the ‘lion’s share’ for himself of course.  He more than likely would have taken some money out for himself in the first place before arranging the payout.

Young boys were beaten as a matter of course, for not being fast enough with their haulage work.  Some employers such as Lord Middleton and Thomas North decreed that they were not to be beaten but they were in the minority.

Prior to this date very few pits employed above 50 men and boys as stated previously.

Accidents 1840

  • On 20 Apr 1840 a horse fell down the shaft at Church Gresley colliery.
  • On the same day there was an explosion at White House colliery nearby and 3 men were burnt.
  • There was an explosion in June 1840 at Clay Cross colliery (Clay Cross Co) and 2 men were severely burned. At the time it was the only pit working in Derbyshire with an underground furnace for ventilation.  Overlookers were employed here whereas at other pits there were known as Stewards.

Pigot's British Atlas

Pigot and Co published a British Atlas of the counties of England in 1840. The map of Derbyshire shows a cluster of pits 1 mile North East of Blackwell South of Tibshelf and another cluster just North of Pinzton (Pinxton), almost all on the border with Nottinghamshire

Another cluster of pits are shown 3 miles west of Buxton in the North West of the county. 

Further clusters of pits are shown North and South East of Cole Orton (in North Leicestershire), then classed as part of the South Derbyshire Coalfield.  The boundaries of Derbyshire were altered later.

The Rise of the Mines

Workings in the Top Hard and Waterloo by the Duke of Devonshire and Joshua Thornley in Heath, and Ault Hucknall Parishes from 1840 to 1860, was referred to as ‘The Rise of the Mines’.

Staffordshire Longway

Around this period the pits in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were changing the working practice from benk work to longway or longwall, a system developed in Staffordshire, and still in use today in the form of panel working. 

Only One Shaft

In 1840 Coal Aston pit only had one shaft 73 yards (66.75m) deep. The short benk faces were 18 yards (16.5m) long. The coal was hauled in boxes on wheels by boys. At the pit there was 3 boys aged under 13, two employed to open and shut doors. All others boys were pushers including George Bellamy (16).  Mark Edwards (9) was a pony driver at 3s 0d (15p) a week. He was a door boy when he was 6 years old. John Edwards (11) was an engine driver at 1s 0d (5p) a day.

Babbington Coal Co

The Babbington Coal Co was inaugurated around this time, where Turkey Field (SK44SE 449870, 342390) and High Holborn (SK45SW 442110, 350500) pits were being worked by Thomas North and partners between Kimberley and Cossall nearby the hamlet of Babbington from where the company name was formed.


George H Barrow (1779-1853) had re-established the ironworks at Staveley and had begun to sink coal pits nearby, e.g. Speedwell


ED Whittingstall bought out Loscoe sunk 1837, from Goodwin and Griffin.

Betty's Bridge

Bettys Bridge pit lay between the River Erewash and the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway (1817-1918) worked by horses.


A tramway from Langton and the gang line from Brookhill Hall pits led to the wharf at Pinxton. The stables for the gang line horses were at the junction of Mill Lane and Park Lane.

Barnes's Pits

Dog Belt
'Dog Belt' for haulage work

Mr Barnes’ pit at Brampton, near Chesterfield was very bad, for the boys had to drag 1 cwt barrows or trams 60 yards (55m) in only 2 feet (0.61m) high roads, 60 times a day.  Wooden shovels were still being used here. 

Ashgate colliery was another owned by Barnes.  Here an ancient level was met in 1833/34 in the Thin seam coal workings.  

No1 Wallow pit was nearby.

The Dog Belt

The ‘dog belt’ for haulage work was popular around this period. It was worn around the waist and attached to the sledges or containers of coal.  The containers were dragged and pushed along the roadways by the girls or boys crawling on all fours.  (A similar device called a guss and crook was used in the Somerset Coalfield until the 1940s!).  There were many shafts around Bagthorpe Williamsons. To the north included Cooks, Fenton’s and Dryhursts pits, to the southwest lay Deeps (Fenton), to the west Basset pit (Fenton) and to the northwest, Old Mens pit.

Fenton's Pits

In July 1840 at Fentons pit at Bagthorpe, an explosion ‘blazed’ out the headstocks and killed 13 asses, it being apparent that methane was present underground and an open flame had ignited the gas in a stagnant atmosphere.  40 asses in total were at work here?

There were two shafts, Williamsons pit at 126 yards (115m) deep and Creswells at 78 yards (71m) deep. These two would be the Big Butties who ran the pits.


Girls worked at both pits, the coal being 24 inches (0.6m) to 30 inches (0.76m) thick.  This is the only reference to girls working at pits in Nottinghamshire. The Fenton family, the ‘Coal Kings of Yorkshire’ owned the pits, and in Yorkshire, women and girls were employed in the pits as a matter of course, as they could be paid less than men or boys.

Condensing Winding Engine

A condensing winding engine was put to work.  This was another first as previously all the winding engines had been the old atmospheric type, with open top cylinders – commonly called Whymseys.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1840

  • Cottom (Cottam) No3 pit at 120 yards (110m) (Appleby and Co) and Engine pit and Bye pit.
  • Willey Lane pit (Barber Walker and Co) 190 yards (173.7m), 180 yards (165m) to Top Hard was sunk at Underwood, section Comb 4’ 0” (1.22m), clunch 8’ 9” (2.67m), Top Hard coal 4’ 7” (1.40m). The 25 yards (23m) of metal tubbing in the shaft, to hold back the water from the water-bearing strata, was the first to be used in the Coalfield.
  • John Dodsley sank a new Skegby Wharf pit (Nottinghamshire) on Pit Lane to replace Old Wharf pit and another Dunsil pit in the Meden Valley in 1840. 
  • Cromptons pit was sunk towards the head of the valley also but the shafts at 53 yards (48m) deep to the Top Hard struck across faulted ground and there was much water.   The fault sizes were noted as 12 yards (11m) and 15 yards (14m) down to the west.  The workings came across ‘old hollows’ (previous workings) after a short time, which were obviously unknown.  This was not a successful working and soon closed down.  The surface here was 528 feet (161m) above OD.  Robert Webster coal owner, supplied information for Teversal Parish.
  • Ibstock No2 pit (Leicestershire) sunk to 447’ 3” (136.3m) with the Main coal 8’ 4” thick at 432’ 3” (131.75m).
  • Birchwood Balguy was working by 1840.
  • New Birchwood Shady and Landsale (Humphry Goodwin), Summercoates and Old Birchwood Hard, Soft and New Head or Woolleys (Sam Woolley) all near Alfreton.
  • Newbold (Leicestershire) was sunk about this time.
  • Waterloo Field pit, near Staveley was operational too. 
  • Lunk Worralls pit at Mosborough began production of about 7 or 8 tons a day from the Parkgate seam using the gin system of winding. 
  • Barber Walker and Co also sank Robbinett (Robinet) colliery in 1839-1840.
  • Butterley Co sank Rutland at Ilkeston.
  • John Barnes sank Grass Moor in the same period.

South Normanton

South Normanton colliery (later known as Winks Bank then Winkcobank and finally Winterbank) pit at South Normanton near to Winterbank Farm to the east of Beresfords was opened around this time, being sunk from 1838-1839 to the Top Hard seam, owner M Wilkinson? 

A tramway from Huthwaite to the wharf by the Pinxton Canal ran close by to the main road (now A38) and a spur track from the pit connected to it. It is confusing to say the least as a building called Winterbank is just in Nottinghamshire to the east and the pit was sunk close to Winterbank Farm in Derbyshire to the west.

Collieries Closed in 1840

  • Two Pinxton pits (Coke) near to Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, about 7 feet (2.13m) dia.  A gangline ran from these pits to the Pinxton wharf.
  • Blackwell (Mellers) Top Hard sunk 1825.
  • Codnor Park (Butterley Co?) Deep Soft, Deep Hard, and Tupton worked.
  • Handley Wood (owner Barrow?) near Barrow Hill, 2 shafts joined to Campbell colliery shaft. Surveys from early 1830s at Christmas to finish at Christmas 1840, numerous shafts and on the plan shown David’s coal level, Hard coal level, Pindar Park ironstone level. There was a second area of working to the north.
  • Oxclose (owner…?) Blackshale.
  • Skegby Old Wharf (Dodsley).

Dolly pit (Clough Head) and Thornsett (Lady Gate Brook) were closed in North West Derbyshire by this time.

Skegby Old Wharf

The photo, to the right, taken by me, shows the site of the Skegby old Wharf pit, note the type of vegetation that is acid loving covering the top of the shafts surrounded by green grass. This is a usual sign of the site of an old shaft or spoil. Care should be taken when passing over such areas as it could be unstable and it is possible that an old shaft may only be topped over and not safely filled as shown in the photo as this old shaft on the line of the 5 Pits Trail, Tibshelf, Derbyshire footpath collapsed on New Year’s day (see 2006).

Old Debtor's Prison

The Old Debtors prison at Radford, Nottingham, had many miners as inmates.

Tommy Fair

David Parker aged 64, born at Barlborough in 1777, was a collier at a pit at Tibshelf in 1840. There was still a Tommy Fair being held where miners signed up or pledged to work in a mine for a fixed period.

'Zigzag Railway And Duke's Incline'

At Clay Cross, George Stephenson and Co built an inclined plane to link up with the main railway line.  It was known locally as the ‘Zigzag railway’ and connected up Stephenson’s Clay Cross No1 pit with Turnpike colliery. 

The Wingerworth Colliery Co connected their Tupton colliery and Lings colliery with a rail line known as the Dukes Incline, built by the North Midland Railway.  

Tunnel Rows

Stephenson purchased 30 cottages, the 'Tunnel Rows' at Clay Cross for his workers at No1 pit and Tupton pit.

(Photo to the left)

A company was formed at Clay Cross.

Midland Railway

The Midland Railway reached Eckington, and an expansion in mining was anticipated as it opened up other markets for the coal.

14 Year-Old Winding Engine-Man

At Somercotes pit (Palmer Morewood) a 14 year-old winding engine-man drew 2 boys over the pulley wheel seriously injuring them.  The boy on the engine was paid 2 shillings (10p) a day by the Butty and worked from 5am to 10pm, or later on occasion.

Fatal Accidents 1840

  • Shipley (M Munday), Joseph Crich (19), fall of coal.
  • Shipley, On 6th June 1840 Thomas Street aged 13 fell down the shaft.
  • Two men were removing bricks from the old Dog Kennel pit shaft at Pinxton (Coke) around this time and both fell and were killed.  In that area there were 27 known shafts to the northwest and other shafts to the south of the nearby Selston Hall.
  • Newthorpe (North, Wakefield and Morley), There was no coal ready to be turned in the corves and they had what they called a 'miss' so Isaac Naylor (13) told the banksman not to throw anything down the shaft whilst he was making a rickett with a shovel, which is a channel for water to run in, however he was hit by a wood puncheon about 1 yard (0.9m) long and upwards of 1 foot (0.3m) in circumference thrown down the shaft 24 Mar 1840, Mark Richards was the Stavier of the pit.
  • Eastwood (North, Wakefield and Morley), John Leivers (30) during the sinking of a shaft at Newmanley’s Mill. The deceased was excavating a shaft some 30 yards (27.5m) deep when he was hit by material falling down the shaft. Sinking material was raised up the pit in trunks and one of the handles of the trunk broke in two after it had been raised 9 yards (8m) and the load of 5 cwts fell and hit him on the head and killed him, 16 Jun 1840.
  • Eastwood, Strelley, new sinking shaft (North, Wakefield and Morley) now 19 yards (17m) deep when the deceased Thomas Edwards (18) was let down to fetch a sinking hammer. As he reached the bottom he was overcome by the damp (blackdamp) and fell to the floor on his face. William Weelecker was let down but he was seized by the damp before reaching the bottom but he was able to lift Edwards and clasped him in his arms and shouted to be raised up. However as they were lifted up the shaft the damp deprived Weelecker of his memory and feeling and the deceased fell to the bottom of the shaft. The damp had collected since Saturday and was then ‘drove’ out by a blow boy or ventilator and pipes. The deceased was bleeding from a wound at the back of his head, 10 Aug 1840.
  • Turkey Field, Thomas Edwards (18) run over by wagons on the surface 3 Aug 1840.
  • Cossall, Samuel Daykin (12) arrived at the pit at 6am but the Stavier in charge had not arrived. The weather was wet. 6 other boys fastened themselves on the chains to ride down the shaft and his brother held the chains open for him to make the seventh but before he could fasten himself safely on one of the boys Amos Shaw shouted to the whimsey man to hold up and as the chain was raised quickly the chain caught the deceased by the ankle and before he could grab hold of the chain it threw him over and he fell down the shaft and his skull was much broken, 21 Sep 1840.
  • Portland, (Jessop and Co, (Butterley Co), John Green, Butty), Joseph Abbot (11) son of George Abbot, collier of Portland Row, was at work on 25 Aug 1840 about 6pm driving asses when the bind roof fell and buried him. One of the asses had its thigh broken and had to be killed. He was released from under the fall and his father and several other men got him to the pit bottom and out of the pit and took him to his grandmother’s house at Todd’s Row where he normally resided. The deceased languished until 4.30pm on Monday afternoon when he died.
  • Incidents 1840: At the Willey Lane pit, Underwood owned by Barber, Walker and Co, 4 men and 2 boys were burned in an explosion. The colliery had only just been opened. 
  • Selston colliery, Underwood a 17-year-old youth, George Peach was also badly burned in an explosion there. 


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