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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913


1841 - Page 3

Children Working Down The Pit (Continued)

West Hallam (Francis Newdigate). Benjamin Fletcher, Coal agent or ground bailiff for 12 or 13 years. There are now only 2 pits at work. Both shafts are laid in lime. Flat ropes are used.

Hallam Soft Coal pit 74 yards (67.7m), seam thickness 9’ 0” (2.74m), 5’ 0” headways. The waggons are drawn by ponies, the lads earning 1s 2d (5.83p) a day and the waggonway is 350 yards (320m) and the bank 180 yards (165m) long. The pit is ventilated from an old shaft 400 yards (365m) away. They are troubled with gobbing fire caused by slack igniting causing them to leave off working.

Hard Coal pit is 103 yards (94m) deep and the seam is 3’ 0” (0.91m) thick. Headways are 3’ 6” (1.07m). The pit is ventilated from 2 shafts about 300 yards (275m) away. The waggons are drawn by an ass and 2 men are employed in keeping the windways in order. A flat rope is used and there is no bonnet. Although there have been some Davy lamps for the past 20 years they are not used now. In 1839 Samuel Tomlinson, a holer, was hurt by some coals falling from the roof injuring his spine so bad that it is unlikely he will work again.

John Daykin (55) has worked in West Hallam pit since he was 8. The pit is 120 yards (110m) deep worked by an engine and the banks are 70 yards (64m) and 50 yards (46m) long and the headways 4’ 0” (1.22m). The seam has a dirt band of bat or dun about 3” (0.08m) thick and the bottom leaf is worked first.

A man hurt his back badly when coal fell. It is the custom to support the roof where the coal is getting by pieces of loose coal until placing the wood supports to the total height. The roads depend on how the gey lies. This is a very hard slatey strata that when broken allows the roof to fall in impeding coal getting.

Dale Abbey (Lord Stanhope). There is only one shaft working. 5 butties, Robert Dakin, Robert Fletcher, Henry Hallam, William Hobson and Thomas Gregory have worked it for 16 years. It is 50 yards (45.7m) deep and worked by an engine. The seam is 5’ 0” app (1.5m) and the bank is 20 yards (18.3m) long and within 6 weeks will be worked out. It is ventilated from a windshaft and an old coal shaft.

Smalley (Messrs Evans, Allen and Thornley). Thomas Booth is the overlooker. When he was 6 years old he drove a horse gin. He has gone through all the jobs. At present only one shaft is at work, 80 yards (73m) and deepening is being done at another. One shaft partly laid in lime and the other with stone. The engine is 18hp and both pumps and draws. The seam is 4’ 6” (1.37m) then about 1’ 0” (0.30m) of dun then another seam of soft coal about 3’ 0” (0.91m) that is workable. It is ventilated from an old shaft 17 yards (15.5m) off. The waggonway is 40 yards (37m). A day’s work is 36 tons and if 40 tons is raised the 4 tons over goes to the next day. Each corve has between 5 and 10 cwts. Although there is a bonnet it is not used. 4 men and 6 boys maximum are let up and down at a time by rope as the tackle will not hold more. There are no butties and one weeks’ notice is required.

John Ratcliffe (69) has worked in the pits since he was 10. The waggons are drawn by boys for 50 yards (46m). It is hot and dry.

Charles Booth (9) started at Smalley when he was 8. He wears the belt when he waggons. It is wet and warm and although naked sweat easily. His uncle who is a butty often beats him with the ass stick because he cannot go as fast as he wants.

Blackdamp often makes the boys badly with headaches.

Christopher Oldknow (12) waggons and wears the belt and if 36 tons is raised he receives 2s (10p) a day. The boy behind aged 10 gets 1s (5p). Before he began to waggon he drove an ass and the pony that was with the ass ran off and owing to his belt being hooked to the corve he was thrown down and the coal on the corve fell onto him, fortunately he received only bruises and was back at work after a week.

Loscoe (Messrs Goodwin and Griffin). They have 2 pits. The Soft Coal pit is 106 yards (97m) deep and the seam and headways 3’ 6” (1.07m) and frequently threatened with wildfire but it seldom blazes. The wind is so strong that the candles have to be shaded whilst they are carrying them. The Hard Coal pit is 126 yards (1125m) deep and the seam and headways same as in the Soft Coal pit. There is a flat rope and no bonnet. 8 boys or 6 men are let down at a time. The shafts are laid in lime. In 1840 two men were burnt by wildfire. They had used a Davy lamp but the men although cautioned placed their candles too high and ignited the gas. There had been several explosions within the last 2 years with no harm done. The employment of butties has ceased recently in order to save money.

Brookbottom pit, Heanor. Thomas Lewis (9) for the past year has driven between for 1s (5p) a day. He works from 6.30am to 8pm, half days 6am to 2pm, threequarter days 6am to 5pm with half an hour for dinner.

Joseph Limb (11) has worked here and at Shipley. He helps to hang on for 1s (5p) a day. Where he stands helping a man he is in water over the tops of his shoes. He walks 2 miles to the pit from home and gets up at 5am.

Loscoe. Joseph Fletcher (13) has worked in the pits since he was 7. He waggons and wears the belt for 1s 10d (9p) a day. A rope is used in the shaft and 13 went down. The waggon road is 100 yards (91m) and there is about 10cwts on each corve. They often have wildfire.

Joseph Bircumshaw (16) works at Shipley. Last September 1840 his father who was heading at the bottom of the shaft at Loscoe, in order to get to the hard coal, perceived the men working in the soft coal bank some 30 yards (27.5m) above him had fired the pit and the fire had run up the shaft. He being a timid man insisted on being drawn up the shaft but before it had got clear of sulphur. Due to this he fell from the tub and was killed.

Bagthorpe (Kirkby Fenton). Thomas Rawling, Agent to Mr Fenton’s coalfield. There are 2 shafts, Williamsons at 126 yards (115m) using a 15hp engine and with 3 banks, 20 yards (18.5m), 65 yards (59.5m) and 200 yards (183m) and Cresswells pit 78 yards (71m) deep, 10hp engine and they let down 6 or 7 using a flat rope but there is no bonnet. There are 3 banks, 30 yards (27.5m), 40 yards (37m) and 40 yards (37m) long. There are 2 waggonways each 100 yards (91m) worked by asses, men and boys. Both seams are 3’ 2” (0.96m). The pits are ventilated from Cresswells and from an old shaft 600 yards (549m) away. Williamsons shaft is laid in lime. There is no bonnet and 4 men and 8 boys are let down at one time by flat rope. The youngest in the pit is a boy aged 8. The pits are so dry that water has to be taken down for the asses. Work is overseen by butties. The children work from 6am to 9pm. An hour is allowed for dinner. Threequarter days are from 6am to 6pm and half days from 6am to 4pm.

Fatal Accidents 1841

  • Babbington (Thomas North) a boy (aged..?) fell to his death whilst riding up a shaft at a small pit when he was overcome by blackdamp or carbon dioxide.  There was no cage, just a bar through the hemp winding rope, which was sat on, and then one held onto the rope.  Of course whilst being wound through the shaft there would be oscillation of the rope causing the person on the end of the rope to continually bump into the shaft sides.
  • Codnor, Samuel Pepperday aged 28 died on 18th Feb 1841 from injuries sustained a few days before when he was forced over the pulley wheel when he was about to descend the shaft.  The accident happened because the rope got fastened upon a hook that was fixed to the horns which the rope worked.
    Jacob Wild aged 32 fell out of the chains some 94 yards to his death on 20th Feb 1841.
  • Horsely Woodhouse, Joseph Fletcher fell to his death from the chains whilst ascending the shaft on 6th June 1841.
  • Kimberley, William Chambers (21) died as the result of an explosion of gunpowder 21 Sep 1841.
  • Little London pit John Clarke (17) slipped on ice and fell down the shaft as there was no guarding.
  • New London (North, Wakefield and Morley) in the hamlet of Newthorpe when between 9am and 10am on Thursday John Clarke (16) was drawing an empty corve on the surface back to the chains and he hit his foot against a piece of wood to knock the snow off and in doing so his other foot slipped and he fell down the shaft (there being no fence or guard) and was instantly killed. It was stated by the Coroner’s jury that the bridge tree was in a dangerous condition and too narrow and recommended that a fence or guard be put up for the safety of the workmen, 10 Feb 1841.
  • Newthorpe Common a boy named John Fisher (aged..?) fell 35 yards (32m) out of the corve he was riding in when part of the dry brick shaft wall fell.
  • Portland (Butterley Co) Benjamin Wilkinson was badly burnt by an accidental explosion of gunpowder on 21 Sep 1841 but he did not die until the following Monday.
  • Trowell (Lord Middleton), William Moult (40) employed to hook and land loaded corves on the pit top slipped and fell down the 200 yards (182m) deep shaft and was killed, 19 Dec 1841.
  • Watnall (Top pit) (Barber and Walker), Joseph Robinson was hammering wedges into the coal to fetch it down when suddenly the roof fell and buried him, 10 Jan 1841.
  • Watnall (Barber and Walker) a boy Jesse Stapleton (12) whose job it was to untackle the corves of coal when they reached the pit top and to tackle the empty corves to go back down again was putting the men’s dinners in a box to send down the pit. The box was about 1½ yards (1.37m) away from the shaft and the deceased was pulling the box by the ring that was stapled to the box in order to get it nearer to the shaft to tackle the chains when the box broke and that part of the box that was held by the staple broke off and the deceased fell backwards down the 124 yards (113m) deep shaft.  He was got out in about a quarter of an hour but his neck was broken also his arms and right thigh and ankle, 8 Jun 1841.

At Beggarlee colliery near Eastwood, the boys complained that blackdamp swelled their bellies and gave them headaches, and at the Watnall Trough Lane pit, boys were not allowed to come out of the pit until the damp extinguished their lamps. The shaft there was 142 yards (130m) deep and the headway underground 4 feet (1.22m). Barber, Walker and Co owned both pits.

In The Brinsley Area The Known Named Pits Were

  • Beauvale Nos 1 to 8, 127 yards (116m) to Top Hard
  • Beggarlee Foundation, 100 yards (91m)
  • Brinsley (Hopkins pit) (Barber and Co)
  • Clinton
  • Cordy Engine
  • Cordy Lane Foundation, 125 yards (114m)
  • Jobs pit (Job Whysall, Coal Agent)
  • Old Foundation 60 yards (55m) to Hard coal
  • Parkers pit
  • Plumptre (named after the Rev’d HW Plumptre, Eastwood)
  • Waterspout pit
  • Willow Lane pit (Barber Walker).

There were dozens of other shafts, including one 70 yards (64m) deep under the nearby Church.



Photo - Henry Western Plumptre Jnr.,
Rector 1863-1903

Henry Western Plumptre Jnr

Thomas North And Partners

Thomas North and his partners, Thomas Wakefield and James Morley, had several mines at this time, 4 at Babbington, 4 at Greasley (Watnall) and Newthorpe Common namely Trough Lane, Middle and Wharf and 2 at Awsworth, plus Stanton and Strelley Park.

At Babbington possibly100 to 150 men and boys, at Greasley possibly between 150 and 200 and at Awsworth more than 200, only about 30 at Stanton and say max of 75 at Strelley. Butties were employed to run the pits and were responsible for coal production and manpower. They were also responsible for all aspects relating to the getting of coal such as pit props, lights for the men, ponies for haulage, door boys etc and transport. The owner was responsible for the capital outlay arranging the lease and any wayleaves and sinking the shafts, supplying engines or Whymseys, ropes, trams / tubs etc, drainage of the mine and development. North paid his butties 2s 5d (12p) a ton for lump coal and about 2s 0d (10p) for cobbles and slack. Average price at the pithead was around 5s to 6s a ton (25p to 30p). Charles Straw, Thomas Straw and Henry Fulwood were three such butties.

Ironworks George H Barrow (1779-1853) re-established ironworks at Staveley (Derbyshire) and began to sink pits nearby.

Miners' Housing

George Stephenson purchased 130 cottages for his workers at Clay Cross (Derbyshire) in 1841

Thomas North built 34 houses at Holden Square and 53 at Napoleon Square for his workers at Cinderhill in 1843 (pictured). Miners’ houses at Whitemoor were originally framework knitters’ cottages and Thomas North purchased them for his workers at Newcastle.  The 18 Babbington cottages had quite different architecture and had housing for officials included (Nottinghamshire). North also built a brickworks and gasworks. At Morewood’s Swanwick pits, boys were employed where possible instead of men, because they were cheaper. 

Deepest Pit

The deepest pit at the time in Derbyshire was Shipley (Mundy) at 250 yards (229m) and was said to be very hot.


A Census of the country showed that of the 118,000 coal miners in Britain, 2,350 were females, mostly working in Scotland, Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Collieries Closed in 1841

  • Ashgate (JG Barnes) Chesterfield.
  • Birchwood Deep Soft.
  • Brinsley Old (Barber Walker and Co) Top Hard seam probably.
  • Denby (WD Lowe) Deep Soft, Deep Hard, Minge or Ell. 


Go 1 1842