Miners’ National Union Established
Currently on display in the South Transept,
Left to right - Tommy Ramsey, an early DMA character
Alex MacDonald, National President,
William Crawford, Secretary DMA.
Alexander Macdonald established the Miners’ National Union (MNU) at Leeds in 1863, as a rival to the National Miners’ Association (NMA). A large part of the union was formed out of the South Yorkshire Association, formed in 1858 after a lockout. They attempted to recruit miners from North Derbyshire.During the winter of 1863-1864 the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Miners’ Association was founded by William Ball and another (John Catchpole?), who died shortly afterwards.
William Brown was sent to South Derbyshire to form another union, referred to as ‘Billy Brown’s union’. The miners in that area were very backward in relation to the miners of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Their wages averaged 15s 0d (75p) a week and they worked 12 hour shifts and had their money paid out in Public Houses and also had the truck system where all foodstuffs etc had to be purchased from the company store at inflated prices. Brown’s aim was to cut the number of hours worked per day and to have the men’s wages calculated on the basis of a ton of 2,240lb as this would increase their wages. The colliers in that area had to produce 25 to 27 cwts to the ton and the cwt was sometimes reckoned as 120 lb instead of 112 lb.
John Dodsley Esq of Skegby Hall died on 15 Feb 1863. He was a coal owner, magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire.
On 28th May 1863 Messrs Booth and Sharpe entered upon Hill Top colliery at 62 yards (57m) deep at South Normanton. There was an old Hill Top pit to the north, finished in 1806, and to the east of that Old Dickey’s pit at 17 yards (15m) deep.
Accident at Califat
At 5.30pm on 30 May 1863 there was a winding accident at Califat No2 pit (Coleroton Collieries, W Clements). William Walker was the engineman but the foreman or overman of the works, in his absence, decided to wind men out of the pit using the winding engine but he could not stop the cage at the bank and it was drawn up to the wheel and crushed John Hutchinson who fell down the 130 yards deep shaft and was killed but fortunately William Clements clung on and was saved.
At William Moseley’s Cock Top pit, Tibshelf,(Derbyshire) tests were made on the coal by the Gas works at Loughborough: gas per ton of coal 8,300 cu ft, coke per ton 12½ cwts, breeze 1½ cwts, illuminating power equal to 16 sperm candles, specific gravity 0.480.
It was noted that the illuminating power was higher than many of the gas coals in Derbyshire and Yorkshire. However the pit was a small one and the shaft was only 4’ 6” (1.37m) diameter at 10 yards (9m) down, and at 43’ 4” deep (14½ yards or 13m) coal 1’ 0” (0.3m), dirt 1” (0.03m) coal 9” (0.23m).
In November 1863 Richard Barrow became the new owner of Springwell pit, at Staveley. He purchased the pit from R Wright and formed the Staveley Coal and Iron Co. He promised to give an allowance of wages to the men provided they agreed not to holiday on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The Rev’d W Pierce had sold Foxley Oaks to the Whittington Coal Co, and Joseph Welton (boy aged...?) fell down the shaft 7 Aug 1863. The Skegby Colliery Co had bought out New Skegby colliery owned by John Dodsley. The Wells Bros were now known as Joseph and George Wells. Barnes and Co became Messrs Barnes at Grassmoor. Knowles and Co sold Hasland to Hasland Coal Co. Jno Knowles sold Ingmanwell to Thomas E Wales who again sold out to Walker and Co in 1864.
Charles Markham became the Managing Director of the new Staveley Coal and Iron Co when Richard Barrow owner of the largest collieries North Derbyshire sold out. The pits were Hollingwood, New Hollingwood, Speedwell and Springwell. Richard Barrow became the company’s first Chairman, a position he held until his death in 1865.
Likewise the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company was founded with William Fowler as Chairman and Managing Director.
Prosecuted For Not Consulting Plans For Old Workings
William Walker retired and passed the plans for Califat to Bailey. Both he and his assistant Lewis were aware that a heading was approaching old workings in the region of Limby Hall. Water suddenly appeared in a stall but they were not particularly concerned but arranged for the coal face to be attended to but unfortunately an old heading 37 yards (34m) from an old engine pit was breached and there was an inrush drowning out the workings. Three workers were killed, Henry Clements a young pony driver, a carpenter S Rowe and a deputy Thomas Bird. Bailey was prosecuted by the Mines Inspector for negligence in failing to consult plans for old workings.
Inrush at Califat
(refer to account above)
This was reported in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent newspaper.
On 8th / 9th October 1863, there was an inrush of water from Limby Hall Hollows, abandoned in 1793c into Califat No2 pit, which was connected to Califat No1 pit about 3/4 mile to the South East and to California pit 700 yards to the North East (Swannington Coal Co, Messrs Walker & Worswick) and also to Peggs Green.
At 3am in No8 stall the Underviewer or Ground Bailiff was told of the situation where water was seeping in but he considered it not to be a problem but suddenly there was an inrush. All lights were extinguished in the 6 feet high pit bottom. Most of the men groped in the dark and were rescued and brought up the shaft. However 6 others, 4 men and 2 boys were missing, Pumps from all 3 pits reduced the water level and the flood subsided but the body of one boy, Harry Clements (16), was found. 3 men, Joseph Marsden, Frank Dorman of Coleorton and Thomas Bird of Worthington were found 20 yards from the shaft. 10 horses were rescued but there was a smell of sulphur or chokedamp. Thomas Bird (50) of Newbold left a widow and 9 children, Jerimiah Rowe (50) of Belton a widow and 6 children. There were still 16 horses in the pit.
Lewis was the Manager, William Pickering was Overman and William Pickering (the elder) was Bailiff at Califat and California pits. He had 39 years experience and was in management at Whitwick for 5 years. Boreholes had been drilled forward in 8s and 14s stalls but missed the old works heading. William Walker was Manager before and Robert Lakin was the previous Bailiff.
Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1863
- Avenue sunk (Wingerworth Coal Co); Booth and Co opened a pit at Blackwell
- Bridge House (…?) Dunston coal
- Broxtowe pit (Thomas North) at 7 ft (2.1m) was sunk in 1863, to 256 yards (234m) to Deep Hard, with 3ft (0.91m) thick Cinderhill Main at 57 yards (52m)
- Morton sunk by the Clay Cross Co about 2 miles west of Tibshelf, as their No5 and No6 pits, 301 yards (275m) to Blackshale and 178 yards (163m) to Deep Hard
- Cock Top (William Mosely’s), Cock Top, Tibshelf, pit 16 yards (15m) deep, Clay Cross Soft? 1’ 10” (0.57m) coal,
Mar 1863 and supposedly a pit in Hill Close down to Waterloo, 3’ 6” (1.07m), worth £200 per acre, Surveyor John Thomas Boot
- Newthorpe (Bully Rag) pit at Eastwood, however not mentioned by name until 1874, one 9 feet (2.74m) diameter shaft down to Deep Hard at 110 yards (100m)
- New Brampton (Wadsworth and Oldfield) 9 feet (2.74m) diameter shaft, 55 yards (50m) deep
- Oakthorpe (Moira Co) opened
- Shirland (GP Beavan and Co) preparation work
- South Normanton pit (W Swann) opened
- Sudbrook pit (J Crooks), North of Chesterfield
- Swannington No3 or Clink colliery (William Worswick)
- Whitmore or Whitemoor (John Knowles), Belper.
Owlcotes (W and J Galloway) now renamed Owl Cotes was taken over by Hardwick Colliery Co. It lay on Earl Manvers estate at Heath
Buckland Hollow changed from J Rhodes to Buckland Hollow Coal Co
Gilt Brook sold from Nicholson and Co to Hicks and Co
Hollingwood from Richard Barrow to Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd
Ingmanwell from Thos E Wales to Walker and Co
Speedwell and Springwell from Richard Barrow to Staveley Coal and Iron Co Ltd.
Collieries Closed in 1863
- Badger’s, Dronfield, Piper seam
- Berristow pit was closed (South Normanton) Top Hard, 1858-1863
- Coppice Beauvale (Barber Walker and Co) Top Soft or Combe or Soft coal, 1 shaft, Surveyor George H Bond and Son ME
- Dunstead New pit, (Beardsley?) sunk 1861 stopped on account of bad coal on Lady Day 1863, Surveyor Woodhouse and Jeffcock
- Hady Hill (Henson and Co)
- Inkerman (Ashgate Collieries) 52 yards (47.5m) deep, bratticed shaft, drew water on east side
- The Lodge (Miss CM Smith), Chesterfield, Deep Soft
- Lucas New (owner…Lucas?)
- Marlpool (Gould and Checkland), Top Hard, Coombe and Waterloo, (sunk 1850), sold by Moody and Newbold, 1st Mar 1861, at Royal Hotel Derby – valuable plant to recover - 2,000 yards (1,830m) of underground bridge rails
- New Marrs (...), Deep Soft
- Sudbrook (....) 2nd Piper
- Walton (George Hoskins)
- Whittington (Rev’d W Pierce) previously Dunston and Barlow Co ?
- Wingfield South (Hopkinson & Co?), Hard coal, Furnace coal and ironstone.
The Inkerman pit was closed on Lady Day 1863. This would be the end of a lease set up from Lady Day some years before. New Brampton lay 215 yards (196m) to SE and an Upcast shaft 40 yards (36m) deep was due W. Ashgate shaft was 360 yards (329m) to NW with another shaft 12 yards (11m) deep 70 yards (64m) to NE of that. There was another old shaft close by. An Air shaft, 33 yards (30m) deep was 390 yards (347m) to North East of Inkerman.
At Windmill Spinney or Nevill’s Hill, South Derbyshire openwork was carried out. Lord Stanhope (7th Earl of Chesterfield from 1866) was a shareholder in J and N Nadin colliery proprieties who had pits at Stanton, Newhall and Hartshore.
Agent RR Lishman.
Coates Park and Birchwood (leased to Messrs Seely by W Morewood). The Deep Soft and Deep Hard seams were abandoned, and a note on the plan read: ‘This plan is agreed to having been proved correct’ – R Howe for Richard G Coke Surveyors, 23rd July 1863.
Thomas Evans (from S Wales) succeeded John Hedley as Inspector of Mines for the district in 1863 until 1886.
Fatal Accidents in 1863
- During 1863 in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire eleven men were killed due to explosions, 30 men by falls of roof, 9 in shafts and 16 were crushed by tubs
- Foxley Oaks, Richard Shemwell (19) fell down shaft 2 Mar 1863
- Golden Valley, John Neale (21) killed 18 Dec 1863 (Memories of Golden Valley By Doris Una Ball)
- Grasscroft John Henry Bacon (13) 8 Aug 1863
- Green pit William Bowman (16) 25 May 1863
- Hallows Lane, George Hillyard (24) 30 Jul 1863
- Handley Wood Hopewell, Thomas Winfield (12) 25 Dec 1863
- A boy (..?) .. Longdon fell down the shaft at Holymoorside on 3 Jan 1863
- Kimberley, Joseph Holmes (..?) 20 Dec 1863
- Staveley, William Wilkinson (20) 30 Jan 1863
- Staveley colliery, David Haigh (boy..?) was killed on 30 Jan 1863 when the chain broke and the cage went down the shaft
- Whittington, ? Silcock (..?) 30 Nov 1863.
- Clay Cross Myra Radcliffe was killed in her home by an explosion of gunpowder used by her miner husband. Because the miners had to buy their own explosives it was normal to keep the powder in the home. The fuses or squibs to detonate the powder were made by the miner and kept indoors also. It is probable that the explosion was caused by the powder and fuses both being kept near the fire to keep dry.
Another Fatality in one Family
A few days ago Thomas Clifford (50), collier, was working in one of the pits of Messrs Barber and Walker at High Park, when a portion of the roof fell upon him. He was so badly crushed that he died on Monday evening. An inquest was held late last evening. The strange circumstance attending the death is that out of a family of seven brothers, he is the fifth that has been killed in a coal pit. Three of the other four were:-
- Thomas Clifford (16) 17-02-1833, fall of roof, Eastwood
- Jacob Clifford (40) 10-04-1846, fall of roof, Brinsley
- John Clifford (50) 09-09-1862, explosion of gunpowder, Beauvale
West Hallam – Wonderful Escape
A few days ago one of the Under viewers in Messrs Whitehouse's ironstone pits was descending the shaft to ascertain that all was right before the men began to descend for the day's work, when he found the firedamp was nearly up to the mouth of the shaft. He had a shovel full of burning coals with him, which he was taking down to light the fires with. The gas caught fire and flashed around him most fearfully. He called out to the engineman to "whip him out" which was done with all possible speed, and the man was landed safely on the ground, but before the men who were looking down the shaft could get away, a most terrible explosion took place, which seemed like the bursting of a volcano. The earth shook with the report, and the fire blazed for yards above the mouth of the pit, singeing the hair and clothes of those who stood at the top. The only damage done however, was that some of the doors and woodwork was displaced; no one was seriously hurt. The shaft (100 yards deep) was full of gas and also a considerable part of the workings, it having accumulated through shutting a door.
165 Derbyshire pits produced 4,550,750 tons
21 Nottinghamshire pits 750,000 tons in 1863.
Total sales of 1,571,916 tons of coal produced from the Erewash Valley were 223,972 tons conveyed by canal and 1,347,944 tons by railway.
10 Leicestershire pits produced 805,750 tons.
It was a bad year for coal, although the low number of closures in this region does not reflect this.