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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913



Canal Frozen

Photo by Jean-Marie Salmacis

The Nottingham Canal was frozen in the winter of 1854-1855 and hampered transportation of coal and other goods. Thomas North built another wharf served by a railway at Bobber’s Mill. He and his partners Thomas Wakefield and Jas Morley had constructed a railway from Cinder Hill to the Nottingham Canal wharf at Radford in 1843 under the Nottingham Canal Act. Again the new wharf created a problem as before when legal action was threatened but this was dropped by supplying coal to the Canal wharf.

Changed Hands

Boythorpe pit at Chesterfield changed hands from Yates and Co to Wright and Oldfield.

Dronfield Woodhouse mine changed hands from Booker and Co to Cartledge and Brayshaw.

Giltbrook (Nottinghamshire) was acquired by F Shipley, from a Company of Colliers.  The pit was sunk to the Deep Hard at 60 yards (55m) pre 1853.


The first Liberal Government was in Parliament from 1855 to 1857. Prime Ministers: Henry John Temple the 3rd Viscount Palmerston (Tory/Whig) Feb 1855 - Feb 1858.

Edward Smith Stanley 14th Earl of Derby (Conservative)1858-1859.
President of Board of Trade, Edward Stanley of Alderley (Lib), Feb 1855-1859.
Secretary of State Sir George Grey MP 1855-1857.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1855

  • Alton (Messrs Fletcher and Co)
  • Anglesey (Anglesea Coal Co formed) Leicestershire
  • Berrister Lane (Chas Seely and Co), South Normanton
  • Bonsall (J Srigley)
  • Brockwell (W and H Bridden) Potters seam
  • Buckland Hollow (Wheatcroft)
  • Bull Close (Ann Wright), Chesterfield
  • Colliery (J Oliver), Chesterfield
  • Colliery (C Rotheram)
  • Coleorton New Colliery and Alabama pit also known as Califat (Leicestershire)
  • Deep End, near Moor Farm opened
  • Denby New (Williamm D Lowe), Ripley
  • Dore (J Smith)
  • East Wood (Thos North ?)
  • Forty Horse (Butterley Co), Butterley Park
  • Granby (Butterley Co)
  • Hady Hill (Henson and Co), Chesterfield
  • Hallam  (Francis Newdegate), Ilkeston
  • Heanor (J Eley)
  • Heanor (J Eley)
  • Heanor (C Cresswell)
  • Heanor (Toplis and Co)
  • Heanor (J Argill)
  • Highfield (Wiliam Worswick), Alfreton
  • Hill Top (Richardson and Co)
  • Hucknall (J Clegg), Huthwaite
  • Ilkeston (Butterley Co)
  • Ingmanwell (Jno Knowles), Chesterfield
  • Kimberley No2 (Thos North), 2 shafts to Top Hard, Deep Soft and Deep Hard, coal transported from Kimberley to Canal at Awsworth and Cossall and by surface haulage tramway to Cinder Hill via Broxtowe colliery and to Nottingham Canal via Newcastle and Radford
  • Laneside (Messrs Hadfield)
  • Pingot (…?) (North West Derbyshire)
  • Lower Birchwood (Milnes  and Eggleshaw) at work
  • Marlpool (Moody and Newbold) Comb and Top Hard
  • Netherseal (Netherseal Colliery Co) (South Derbyshire)
  • Newcastle (Thos North) was sunk at Whitemoor, Nottingham
  • Newlands (Butterley Co)
  • New Hollingwood (or Farewell or Hartington) Staveley (Barrow)
  • New Main (Butterley Co)
  • Normanton North (W Marriott) also at work
  • Seymour (Richard Barrow) part of Speedwell
  • Spite Hill (Wingerworth Iron Co) Dronfield
  • Staveley (J Marples)
  • Staveley (J Steele)
  • Stoneyford New (Swan and Wharton), Aldercar
  • Tibshelf (R Millward)
  • Tibshelf Old (John Chambers)
  • Watnall and Greasley (J Morley)
  • Whiteley (Messrs Coursham and Co), Ripley
  • Whittington (Wilkinson).   
    (47 Pits)

Collieries Closed in 1855

  • Alfreton (WP Mold), Alfreton
  • Buckland Hollow (M Richardson) 58 yards (53m), and Mrs Wollatts’ pit, 71 yards (65m), met old hollows, water from Cromford Canal came into north head
  • Clay Cross (T Hayes)
  • Clay Cross (J Walters)
  • Clay Cross (J Clegg)
  • Clay Cross  (Messrs Pearson)
  • Dore (M Wilbraham)
  • Dore (J Hancock)
  • Dore (Pearce and Co)
  • Dunstone (M Knowles)
  • Dronfield (Johnson and Co)
  • Dronfield (G Wright)
  • Handley Wood Hopewell Waterloo (Richard Barrow) Main Soft
  • Langley Mill (Grammar trustees)
  • Newbold (Messrs Knowles and Co) Dogtooth coal
  • North Wingfield (Clay Cross Co)
  • Plumbley (W Gattley), Chesterfield
  • Thornsett (..?) (North West Derbyshire)
  • Tupton (Wingerworth Iron Co)
  • Whitehouse (Hall and Boardman) opened in 1853 closed due to coal near to Newhall fault badly crushed and also water ingress from old hollows.

Nibble and Clink
Nibble and Clink with the engine man to the left and William Cheetham to the right

Various Collieries

At Pinxton Old Sleights the Deep Soft was stopped. At Brinsley Engines Parkers pit the Coombe was abandoned.

Probably Nibland colliery (Skegby Colliery Co?) or Nibland Clink in the upper Meden Valley (Nottinghamshire) closed at this time.  One of the earliest photographs was taken of a Newcomen steam engine, with a beehive boiler.  (Nibble and Clink was its local name). The engine man is shown to the left and William Cheetham to the right or is it Cheetham to the left and Dodsley the owner to the right?

It is thought that the chain for winding appears to have been taken off, so the mine had possibly just closed.

Nottingham Guardian
10th May 1855


dukeOn Friday last, 4th May, the Duke of Newcastle went underground at Cinder Hill pit belonging to Thomas North of Basford Hall. He was accompanied by I C Wright of Watnall Hall, John Thomas Woodhouse, mining engineer and surveyor/viewer and also W Parsons, chief mining engineer of the district. The decended the Downcast shaft at 10:30 am and examined the tub (tubbing) in the shaft installed to hold back water from the aquifer. In the pit bottom there was admirable provision for horses and other animals. The animals were well fed and groomed and in splendid condition. The temerature was 60 degrees fahrenheit. Some ventilation doors were hung from the roof and could be closed instantly in the case of explosions. They were called Life and Death Doors, they could throw the current of air in its proper direction. Output of the mine was 2000 tons a week and there were still more than 3000 acres of lease remaining.

John Drinkwater's Pits

Coal was got by John Drinkwater and Hall at Chain pit 19 yards (17m), Lady pit, coal 2’ 10” (0.88m), Deans Piece pit, Furnace pit 35 yards (32m) deep, in North West Derbyshire, up to this period.  Blind pits (staple pits) were mentioned also, sunk underground from one horizon to a deeper one.

Coal Transported By Canal

Coal was transported from Kimberley to the Canal at Awsworth and Cossall and also by surface tramway to Cinderhill via Broxtowe colliery and then via Newcastle and Radford to the Nottingham Canal. Thomas North’s railway system had now extended to a total of 18 miles and had cost a lot of money.

Fatal Accidents

Charles Morton HMI reported that between 1852 and 1855 there had been 480 fatal accidents in the Midlands region and 147 had been due to explosions or suffocation, 145 by falls of coal or roof and 104 in shafts plus 84 due to machinery breakages etc. In Leicestershire and South Derbyshire there were 15 fatals in 1854... Bagworth 1, Church Gresley 1, Coleorton 2, Ibstock 1, Peggs Green 2, Moira 1, Snibston 3, Swadlincote  2 and Whitwick 2.

HM Inspectorate

John Hedley succeeded Charles Morton as Mines Inspector for the district from Nov 1855 until 1863

Coal Mines Inspection Act of 1855 passed to amend the law for Inspectors of Coal Mines in GB – general rules to be observed in every coal mine and colliery. There were 12 Inspectors now. It was realised that the number of collieries was increasing and so the County of Yorkshire was to have its own Inspector and Morton was transferred, leaving Hedley to take oversee all mines in Nottinghamshire, North and South Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.  Morton claimed that men delayed from going down the pit in a proper manner have ‘slidden down the rope’.

No excuse of course for such a blatant act of idiocy and great danger, but time was money as a man was only paid for the amount of coal he could extract. Morton retired in 1866 and died shortly afterwards, supposedly from the strain of the investigation into one of the worst colliery explosions, when 344 men and boys out of 360 underground died at Oaks colliery Yorkshire from the first blast and a further 27 rescue men died when there were a further 16 explosions over a six day period before the colliery was sealed.

Plans of Mines

The Act also made amendments requiring that plans of coal mines should be made up to date and signed by a competent Surveyor at least once in every 6 months.

Fatal Accidents 1855 

  • Babbington (Thomas North), Gervase Hays, fall 17 Apr 1855.
  • Birdholme (or Bird Holme) (Wingerworth Iron Co), Charles Mitchell, fell down shaft 20 Jun 1855.
  • Butterley Park (Butterley Co), William Searson, crushed in shaft by cage 12 Oct 1855.
  • Butterley Park (Butterley Co), Sam Machin (13), fall of roof 26 Nov 1855.
  • Cinder Hill (Thomas North), William Marsden (36) collier, was throwing dirt from one side of a road to the other to straighten the road. Samuel Riley who was working with him said that a heavy piece of coal had fallen onto Marsden from the side of the road. John Calladine who contracted to get the coal fetched a candle. They gave the deceased a drink of water. He said he had no use in his legs. They transported him to the pit bottom on a wagon. They took him out of the pit as soon as possible but he was dead when he reached the pit top, 21 Jul 1855.
  • Cinder Hill, (Thomas North), William Howe, fall 22 Aug 1855.
  • Clay Cross, (Clay Cross Co), Sam Brailsford, fall of coal 29 May 1855.
  • Clay Cross, (Clay Cross Co), John Parker, crushed by cage 1 Sep 1855.
  • Clay Cross, (Clay Cross Co), James Beresford (boy ..?), run over by corves 6 Sep 1855.
  • Clay Cross, (Clay Cross Co), Sam Cooper (37) fall of coal 3 Dec 1855.
  • Codnor Park (Butterley Co), Samuel Machin aged 14 was killed on 26th Nov 1855 when 2 tons of bind fell from the roof. The deceased was in the act of filling a tub with coal when the roof fell.
  • Codnor, Samuel Granger aged 38 was killed by a similar fall of roof bind on 2nd Dec 1855.
  • Coleorton, Thomas Jeffcote, fell down shaft 21 May 1855.
  • Eastwood (Manson’s coalfield) Kings pit, (Barber and Walker), John Pearce-Stapleton (20) an ex frame knitter and collier for one year was lifting a train of coals that had come off the rails with another man on 4 Apr 1855.  A fall of bind roof fell onto his abdomen and he was badly crushed. He was taken out of the pit in pain and 2 men took him home on a cart. They gave him a drink of gin. However he died on Saturday morning 8 Apr 1855.
  • Eastwood (T North and Co), John Stapleton, fall of ground 7 Apr 1855.
  • Eastwood (T North and Co), Zachariah Farnsworth, fall 1 Nov 1855.
  • Exhibition Colliery, (Butterley Co) Codnor Park, Thomas Radford aged 51 was crushed when about 5 tons of bind roof fell on him. He had neglected to support the roof after being told it was in a dangerous state.
  • Hallam Fields (Whitehouse), George Holmes, fall of corf in shaft 26 Nov 1855.
  • Hartshay (Butterley Co), George Wilmot, fell down shaft 31 Jul 1855.
  • Hill Top Joseph Bullock, fall 9 Aug 1855.
  • Hollingwood (Barrow), Bartholomew Newton, crushed by wagon 15 Oct 1855.
  • Hollingwood (Barrow), James Salisbury, fall of coal 2 Nov 1855.
  • Hollingwood (Barrow), Patrick O’Neil (13), crushed by wagon on surface 14 Dec 1855.
  • Ilkeston, (Samuel Potter) Samuel Smith aged 22 was blasting coal in the Soft coal pit on 26th June 1855. After 3 blasts or shots had been set and gone, the coal had not come down so he went and knocked it, when suddenly above 6 tons of coal fell upon him crushing him to death.
  • Ilkeston. A young child Martha, 18 months old belonging Harriett Foster was run over by a set of wagons being ganged from Mr Potter's pit to the wharf. As the waggons were passing the gas yard  the child got entangled in the wheels and was most dreadfully mutilated with the wheels cutting off both legs below the knee, also the left arm above the elbow and the other arm much lacerated and she died from her injuries about 3 hours later.
  • Kilburn (J Ray), Sam Wheatley, fall of roof 8 Aug 1855.
  • Langton (Pinxton Collieries), S Robinson (boy..?), fell down shaft 4 Dec 1855.
  • Moira (Hastings), Edward Rowbottom, crushed by cage 8 Nov 1855.
  • Morley Park (Butterley Co), John Wain (boy ..?), fall of roof 20 Apr 1855.
  • New Main (Butterley Co), Thos Radford, fall of coal 10 Jan 1855.
  • New Main (Butterley Co), Sam Grainger (35), fall 30 Nov 1855.
  • Ormonde (Beardsley), Thos Bottom (boy..?) ?, crushed by machine 21 Dec 1855.
  • Ormonde (Beardsley), Thomas Wagstaff (28), caught in machinery 21 Dec 1855.
  • Plumptre (Butterley Co), William Naylor (36) collier, proceeded to work between midnight and 1am on 28 Dec 1853 in a state of intoxication and was informed by a man named Rigley who was coming off shift that there was an accumulation of firedamp and that he should not approach with a naked candle. He was warned several times and told to take one of the safety lamps provided but he refused. He had only just reached his place of work when there was an explosion and he was severely burnt about his body. He was conveyed and taken out of the pit to his home but died from his injuries on 7 Jan 1854. It was the duty of the banksman to see that the rules on intoxication were enforced.
  • Portland (Butterley Co), Richard Hullott, fall of roof 17 Aug 1855.
  • Riddings (Oakes), George Mart, run over by corves 28 Mar 1855.
  • Riddings (Oakes), John Shaw, crushed in shaft 24 Sep 1855.
  • Rutland (I & R Potter), George Starbuck (..?), fall of timber in the shaft 9 Jan 1855.
  • Rutland (I & R Potter), Sam Smith, fall of coal 26 Jun 1855.
  • Rutland (I & R Potter), Thomas Bostock (10), fell down shaft 12 Dec 1855.
  • Stanton by Dale, George Holmes aged 22 was killed on 26th Nov 1855 when a skip fell on him. He and three others were descending the shaft in a skip and an empty skip being drawn out and the deceased and another were thrown out of the skip to the bottom of the shaft and the empty skip fell on them. The other man was seriously injured and was removed to Nottingham Infirmary.
  • Staveley (J Marples or J Steele), George Siddall and James Gascoigne, underground boiler burst 13 Jan 1855.
  • Staveley(J Marples or J Steele), John Riley, crushed by cage in shaft bottom 14 Feb 1855.
  • Swannington (W Worswick), Thomas Siddon (boy) crushed by tubs.
  • Tapton(John Clayton), William Parkes, fall of coal 26 Jun 1855.
  • Tibshelf (J Chambers), John Machin (boy ..?), fell down shaft 10 Jan 1855.
  • Underwood (Barber and Walker), William Gibson, whilst withdrawing timber to reset a piece of roof bind and coal weighing approximately 5 tons fell and killed him, 18 May 1855. It took 2¼ hours to extricate the body.
  • Underwood (Barber and Walker), Thomas Housley (38) whose job it was to take loaded trucks down to the railway on the branch line to the colliery. On 24 Jul 1855 the deceased and 3 others were loading trucks and the deceased went to fetch another empty truck to load. As he brought the truck to the bank side he stood on the brake and another man put a scotch under the wheel on the other side to stop it. Housley was caught between the truck and the wall and as the truck was still in motion it turned him round several times crushing him to the wall. He was taken home where he died. He had been warned several times not to stand on the brake on the wall side.
  • Whitwick (W Stenson & Co), John Smith, crushed by cage 21 Feb 1855.


The ‘Big Butty’ system was in operation at most pits in the Midlands Coalfields. If the Butties ran several stalls they sometimes had a ‘doggie’ as an assistant.


Underwood and Willey Lane pits (Barber Walker) were surveyed by John Shaw of Derby.


Workings from Calcutta colliery (Leicestershire) sunk in 1853 were limited due to workings from Snibston and Whitwick and also the large Thringstone fault.


From the:-
district 650,000 tons was produced
Glossop 70,000 tons;
Ilkeston 263,000 tons;
Burton 180,000 tons and
Chesterfield 1,098,696 tons. 

The 123 pits North Derbyshire produced 2,406,696 tons of coal in 1854 and the 17 Nottinghamshire pits 813,474 tons. 

In 1855 the output from Derbyshire pits was 2,256,000 tons and Nottinghamshire pits 809,400 tons.  There were 167 pits in North Derbyshire, 9 in South Derbyshire and 24 in Nottinghamshire. By comparison the numerous pits in Yorkshire were producing around 10 million tons.

The South Derbyshire pits output was 180,000 tons for the year, the greatest output of 55,000 tons coming from Church Gresley colliery (Marquess of Hastings).