Information and photographs submitted by subscribers are posted in good faith. If any copyright of anyone else's material is unintentionally breached, please email me

The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913



Shaft Accident

At Church Gresley on 30th April 1847 14 men and boys entered the cage to descend the mine at 5.30am. As the cage descended the shaft one of the wheels broke. The engine driver braked but the cage went hurtling out of control down the shaft some 270 yards (247m) deep. The winding rope broke off the drum and fell down the shaft also onto the cage.

7 of the bantle (cage full of men) died and the other 7 were seriously injured. Examination of the engine afterwards showed that a part of a broken tooth off a cog had dropped between the cogs causing the wheel to fracture.

Skegby Colliery

The new Skegby colliery (Skegby Colliery Co) sunk 1845-1846, was now producing around 200 tons a week. The Top Hard seam Butty, William Cheetham, was paid between 2s 2d (10¾p) and 2s 10d (14p) a ton and the Dunsil seam Butty, Richard Wardle, between 3s 0d (15p) and 3s 4d (16⅔p) a ton, the deeper thinner Dunsil seam being the more difficult to work. Dodsley, Lord of the Manor, residing at Skegby Hall since 1820, used the men on the harvest in the summer.

Hours of Work

The 10 Hours Act of 1847 was passed.  This actually had an adverse effect on the men’s’ wages.  By working fewer hours, one could not produce the same amount of coal on piecework as before, so in practice their wages were reduced.  Coal was being sold in the area for 7s 8d (38⅓p) a ton.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1847

  • Bailey Brook (Butterley Co) Heanor, Deep Soft
  • Dunstead (Henry and Joseph Boam) 6’ 10” (2.08m) coal
  • Gresley Wood (Hastings?) (South Derbyshire)
  • Langley Mills pits sunk (Coursham and Co) near to railway, (now Acorn Centre) just off Station Road opposite Milnhay Road
  • Lings (Wingerworth Coal Co)
  • Radford (Lord Middleton), Top Hard working began
  • Woodside, Shipley (Mundy) sunk to Deep Soft and Deep Hard, took over from Field pit later.
  • Stoppards at West Hallam
  • Orchard at West Hallam
  • Coppice at West Hallam
  • Simonfield No1 & No2 pits at West Hallam (sunk this year?). 
  • Gresley Wood Moses Cartwright opened a second colliery at Gresley Wood with George Williamson the engineer and James Robinson, a young engineer from Nottinghamshire. 2 shafts were sunk to the Main coal at 150 yards (137m) but the sinking was difficult due to ingress of water and cast-iron tubbing was used. George Williamson would be appointed Manager in 1848.

Midland Counties Railway

On 9th July 1847 the Midland Counties Railway (formed 1844) bought the Pinxton to Mansfield Tramway for a sum of £21,066 13s 4d (£21,066.66⅔p). The gauge was changed from 4 feet 4 inches (1.31m) to the standard gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches (1.43m). The fish bellied rails were fastened to large blocks of stone buried in the ground. Steam engines were used, the horses being dispensed with. 

The magnificent stone viaduct near to the old King’s Mill to the lower end of Sutton Reservoir still remains.  A portion of the old rail is shown in the photo. 

Collieries Closed 1847

  • Birchwood (Humphrey Goodwin) Hard and Soft coals, closed Lady Day, end of lease
  • Duckmanton Common pits (on site of Arkwright Town) abandoned (sunk c 1823)
  • Lower Hartshay New Foundation pit (Butterley Co) closed
  • New Foundation pit (Butterley Co) at Birchwood Lane near Alfreton was closed. The Manager was Mr Brown and the underground Deputy John Barker, and Furnace or Tupton coal was worked
  • Mosborough Moor pit (R and J Swallow)
  • Mosbro Hall pit (Wells and Co)
  • Old Holmewood (Heath) pit (Joshua Towneley) (sunk 1842 ?). 

At Lings colliery (Butler?) the Top Hard at 150 yards (137m) deep was being worked towards Pewit at 80 yards (73m) near North Wingfield (which may have been sunk for a ventilation shaft).

Petroleum Spring

In the Riddings pit owned by James Oakes and Co a natural petroleum spring was discovered as the salt water diminished.  The miners thought the oil had a peculiar odour.  It was tipped into the canal along with the water.  It was soon noticed by the local boys who found that it could be set alight by throwing hot coals onto the surface of the canal. Professor Playfair, an eminent geologist and a relative of the owner of the colliery told Dr Young the Manager of a chemical works in Liverpool of the findings. The oil was later collected in casks and transported to Scotland where James Young distilled light thin oil for lamps and thicker oil for machinery.  However after a year the spring began to fail. 

Youngs Paraffin Oil was patented in 1850. He had realised the possibility then and he tested coal by gently heating it and found that oil could be produced from it.

Waterworks Clauses Act

The Waterworks Clauses Act 1847.  Basically this Act was passed to consolidate the provisions usually contained in Acts of Parliament authorising the construction of waterworks for supplying towns with water.  Maps of the pipe layout etc had to be made within 6 months and mine owners were to notify those 30 days before the approach by mine workings.  The undertakers were able to enter the mine after giving 24 hours written notice to observe the working.  Similarly the clauses of this Act were somewhat standardised to be included in future Acts for the construction of pumping stations and other water works.


President of Board of Trade, Henry Labouchere (Whig), 1847-1852.

Woodhouse's Plan

A plan of Heath and Ault Hucknall by John Thomas Woodhouse Surveyor of Overseal, Ashby de la Zouch in May 1847 showed land owned by the Duke of Devonshire with the basit or outcrop of the Hard coal, also Holme Wood colliery and the sough level.

Fatal Accidents 1847

  • Brinsley area, Richard Wilson (?) fell down an old shaft he was filling 17 Sep 1847.
  • Cinderhill (Thomas North), Samuel Carrington (13) crushed by tubs 14 Jan 1847. Some waggons were going down a descent when the garland, a sort of rail fixed on the waggons to prevent coal from slipping fell off and threw the next waggon off the rail and that was dragged onto the deceased who was a few yards (metres) below. He was crushed by the garland to one side of a door. He was carried out the pit alive and taken to the infirmary but died resulting from a broken pelvis.
  • Cinderhill, Benjamin Severn (21) was working a jig, a kind of wheel to draw full waggons of coals up and let empties down when he was caught in the chain of the 2 yards (18m) dia haulage wheel, 2 Sep 1847. Several boys were sent to loosen the tubs from the chain that were some 400 yards (365m) inbye so it was a quarter of an hour before he could be released. He bled much from his head as the drum must have squeezed him every time it rotated. His younger brother was killed at the same pit a year before.
  • Heanor, on 7th July 1847 Joshua Short fell from a rope some 50 yards whilst ascending the shaft. A workmate similarly climbing the rope the deceased was riding in was almost exhausted, but fortunately for him he was pulled out at the pit top by the banksman.
  • Pinxton, Green pit (Coke), Thomas Wagstaff (14) fall of coal 26 Jul 1847.
  • Pinxton (John Coke), John Faulkner (27), fireman, who was accidently killed when he fell out of the chair he was to descend down the pit in when the engine started up by itself and the chair went upwards, 15 Nov 1847.
  • Portland (Butterley Co), Thomas Wagstaffe (11) was killed when a piece of coal weighing 5 or 6 cwt fell on his head from out of a corve he was pushing along a rail where it had been loaded to the main road. He was taken out of the pit alive but died shortly afterwards, 1 Aug 1847.
  • Portland (Butterley Co), Thomas Faulkner (27) fell 25 yds (23m) down the shaft and was killed 6 Nov 1847
  • Shipley on 27th December 1847 William Barks aged 11 was killed when he fell down the shaft some 43 yards when he reached the bridge tree at the pit top but the banksman did not have time to move it and the truck he was riding in tipped up and he fell.
  • Underwood (Barber Walker & Co), Joseph Smalley (47) was waiting in the pit bottom to come out of the pit when he assisted a man to place coal in a corve to be drawn up the pit. However a full corve of coal being wound up the shaft must have been hit by the empty corve coming down and a few pieces of coal were knocked off falling down the shaft and one piece glanced off another sideways and struck the deceased on top of his head breaking his skull and killing him instantly. There was another man standing closer to the shaft who ran past Smalley who was standing under the brow where he was in a safe place had the coal not flown sideways. There were 5 men at the bottom of the shaft but were not injured. Smalley left a widow and 10 children, 5 Aug 1847.
  • Willey Lane, Underwood, (Barber Walker & Co), John Fulwood (?) holer, was killed in an explosion of firedamp 21 Sep 1847.


left 2


Go 1 1848