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



Explosion at Renishaw Park Kills 25 Men and 2 Boys
10th January 1871

On 10th January 1871 there was a large underground explosion at Renishaw Park Colliery, North Derbyshire, owned by J and G Wells, and 25 men and 2 boys were killed and 12 others injured. The explosion was caused by a candle igniting gas, although safety lamps were provided by the company. See listing.

Renishaw Park pit (North Derbyshire) had been open for approximately 12 years and the 3 ft (0.9m) thick Silkstone seam was notoriously fiery. At the time of the incident there were 650 men and boys underground and 150 on the surface. The 2 shafts were 225 yds (205m) deep and about 600 yds (549m) apart. There was between 19,000 and 20,000 cu ft per min of air circulating the workings. Mr Hardwicke was the principal viewer and the superintendence was under the care of Samuel Hardwicke and his son Miles Hardwicke was the underground steward. Francis Clarke the fire Trier (fireman) deceased, signed the slate to say that he had checked the place of work. Thomas Hardwicke was the deputy. The following died from burns, afterdamp and chokedamp, Ben Martin (chargeman), John Rhodes, Enoch Briggs, George Lowe, George Hall and Francis Clarke were found in No8 gate. Ephraim Billam in No1 jinny gate / No11 gate. Mark Barber and a boy named John Thorpe were found in No2 South gate and 80 yds (73m) away in the dips was David Wainwright. 4 more men, George Webster, John Catley, John Ellis and Aaron Arthur found on No2 level and William Larkin, Matthew Savage and Robert Watson found in No6 gate. Others killed were John Alcock, John Bolsover, ? Breeze, John Cutlet, Thomas Pearce, ? Portas, William Wood, Thomas Richardson, Thomas Goodwin and Thomas Lloyd (who died on the surface from his injuries), making a total of 27 and all perished in an explosion of firedamp on 10 Apr 1871.

The managers from other pits assisted in the rescue attempt. Mr Markham, Mr Campbell, Mr Minnigan (New Hollywood), R Applethwaite (Seymour), Chambers (Cottam) and Howe (Clay Cross). Thomas Scott the head ripper and blower made room for the ponies to pass and brought out alive. However several other ponies were killed. Mr Earle was the mining engineer. The inquest was held at the Sitwell Arms, Eckington, CSB Busby being the Coroner and Thomas Evans the Government mines Inspector in attendance. 77 men were at work when the explosion occurred. There was a Clanny lamp found and wire from a Davy lamp. Emerson Bainbridge was a mining Agent and coal owner and manager of the Duke of Norfolks collieries. Charles Appleby was the coal owner of Barlboro’. Philip Cooper colliery Viewer from Holmes colliery, Rotherham examined the pit next day.

19 widows, 151 children all under 12 were left destitute. Mr Wells coal owner gave £200 towards their relief.

Gangers Summoned

On 21st January 1871 New Field pit, Moira, the following boys, all gangers with horses were summoned for opening and unscrewing their Stephenson safety lamps whilst underground. Joseph Wright, Thomas Dennis, William Dennis, Jonathan Jones, Henry Ford and Edward Goucher were each fined 20 shillings (£1)  plus costs or 14 days in jail by the court . They were liable to be sentenced to 3 months in jail for such a demeanor and anyone in future found doing the same would automatically receive a jail sentence.

The Mines Inspector would have known about the explosion at Renishaw Park only 11 days previously and it was his duty to inform the Manager to try to prevent such an occurrence happening again and stamp out the practice of opening safety lamps and only severe measures taken would ensure this.


From 2nd February 1871 Butcher Wood colliery was also referred to as Butcherwood or Teversall No2, later Teversal, owned by Stanton Iron Co. An Air shaft (never located) is shown to the north of the main shafts on a plan. Possibly for a furnace, as at Silver Hill, but never implemented, as an electric Cappell fan 16 feet (4.88m) dia was installed, one of the earliest in the country. A Gas works and 2 brick kilns are also shown on the plan of the time - (note the spelling of Teversal would remain mainly as Teversall until around 1920).


President of Board of Trade, Baronet Chichester Fortescue (Lib), 1871-1874.

Hydraulic Pumping Engine

A hydraulic pumping engine was introduced at Grassmoor (Derbyshire) to drain dip workings and Alfred Barnes sank the first shafts at Corbriggs nearby. In the 1700s there were pits working in the vicinity at Grass Moor and Grass Hill.

First Battery Operated Signal Wires for Haulage

Léclanché cells
Léclanché cells
Haulage Engine

Clay Cross Co was probably the first to install bell wires along haulage roads for signalling on the No2 haulage plane at Clay Cross colliery (Derbyshire). Batteries generated the signalling wire system, probably in the form of Léclanché cells, and a metal object touching both wires at the same time at any position along its length would ring a bell at the engine position. A system of signalling various numbers of rings told the engine-man when to stop (usually one), start (usually two), reverse etc. Previously the system was designed to do a similar action but carried out by manually pulling a heavy handle that pulled a wire etc to ring a bell.

Clay Cross Company Expanding

Sir William Jackson MP acquired the Clay Cross Company and continued to expand. The miners at Clay Cross were refusing to use the steel drill bits, which had been introduced by the company, and then found them useful in ripping gates and drifting. Messrs Oliver and Co of Chesterfield manufactured the rock ‘perforators’ or drills. As ever in the early days of mechanisation the miners were very suspect of any kind of machinery introduced by the owners.

Bank Holidays Introduced

Bank holidays were introduced in Britain for the first time in 1871 under the Bank Holidays Act 1871.

Boxing Day and the first Monday in August were added. Prior to this only Christmas Day and Good Friday were taken. Holidays at the time for miners were a couple of days at Easter, a day or two at Whitsuntide for Wakes week and either one or two days at Christmas. And of course it was a six-day working week normally.

Sheepbridge Company

The Sheepbridge Co built 70 houses for their officials. This practice would continue by other companies in the future. All 4 pits owned by the company were ventilated by furnace. They were Sheepbridge, Nesfield (Barlow) and Dunston, all at 250 tons a day, and Norwood (Killamarsh) at 700 to 800 tons a day. The company employed 2,000 men and boys.

The foundation of the Sheepbridge Co together with the New Whittington ironworks of Thos Firth and Son of Sheffield (est. 1857) resulted in the population of Whittington rising from around 630 in 1811, to 2,860+ in 1861 and to about 5,800 by 1871.

Old Pits

A plan made by William Deakin Wadsworth of Chesterfield in 1871 shows pits in 1860, between Tibshelf, Newton and Huthwaite mentioned earlier and are listed:

  • Dosaylands (owner….?)
  • Red Barn (….?)
  • Capela pit (….?)
  • Woodwell or Woodrull (….?)
  • Pingle (….?)
  • Dimingsdale (Boden and Mellers)
  • Five Acre pit (….?)
  • Stone pit (Boden and Mellers)
  • Shop pit (Sharpe)
  • Greendale (….?)
  • Gothards
  • Saxtons
  • New Lane pit (….?)
  • Eight Acres (….?)
  • Adit level (….?).
    All were closed by the 1860s. Probably some of them were worked by Mellers (Mellors) and Chambers.
    A tramway passed by the Old Blackwell pit (owner….?) where the Hard coal lay at 41 yards (37.5m) deep.


The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Miners Association was resuscitated during the year, with William Peach as Secretary.

Butterley Company

The Butterley Co output was around 700,000 tons a year produced by 8,000 men and boys at Brands Hard, Brands Soft, Butterley Park, Codnor Park, Forty Horse, Loscoe, Newlands, Ripley, Upper Birchwood, Marehay, Whiteley, Waingroves and Granby and Watergate.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1871

  • Albert (Derbyshire Silkstone Co Ltd), Staveley
  • Birchwood Lane (Seely and Co) Soft and Hard coal
  • Coton Park and Lenton (Coton Park Co) Leicestershire
  • Donisthorpe (Checkland and Co)
  • Fernilee (William Proctor), Whaley Bridge
  • Moorgreen (Barber, Walker and Co), Eastwood
  • Newbold (E Taylor), Chesterfield to Thin coal
  • Summerley (James Rhodes and Sons), Chesterfield
  • Tapton (Tapton Coal Co Ltd), Chesterfield
  • Thatchmarsh (Buxton Lime Co), Buxton
  • Willey Lane (Barber, Walker and Co), Underwood (deepened?)
  • Donisthorpe, two further shafts were sunk (Checkland and Williams), (Leicestershire), the original sinkings being in 1857
  • West Moira (Checkland and Son) (Leicestershire).
    (12 pits)

The Following Pits Changed Hands in 1871

  • William Worswick sold Annesley to the Annesley Colliery Co
  • Awsworth from FC Gillott to Heywood and Co
  • Boythorpe Lane from Mrs H Ludlam to Chesterfield Coal Co
  • Bretby from Earl of Chesterfield to Anne Countess of Chesterfield
  • Brimington from Locoford Coal Co Ltd to Tapton Coal Co Ltd
  • Dunston from S Lankester to Lankester and Knowles
  • Granville from executors Court Grenville to Granville Coal Co
  • Hasland from George Senior to Hasland Co Ltd
  • Mapperley from Checkland and Co to Glendon Iron Co
  • Silkstone from Armitage Bros to Andrews Bros
  • Thornsett from T and J Bennett to T Bennett
  • Unstone from Henry Rangeley to Henry Rangeley and Son. In November Sir William Jackson MP acquired the Clay Cross Co
  • West Hill Heanor lease transferred to HH West 13th July 1871, sunk 1868, Surveyor John Thomas Boot, The Orchards, Hucknall, Alfreton.

Stanton Ironworks Co

Stanton Ironworks Co began planning a sinking at Pleasley (Derbyshire) in the concealed coalfield measures. This was to be their deepest sinking to date.

Richard G Coke carried out a major resurvey of the Top Hard workings at Teversall No2. At the Shonkey No2 shaft 94,000 gallons of mine water was pumped every 24 hours. The colliery had been called Butcherwood up to 2nd February 1871 but would continue to be referred to by that name locally by many until its closure in 1980.

9 Hour Day and Weekly Wages

In November 1871 the Staveley Co granted the men a 9-hour day and weekly payment of wages from 1st January 1872. James Oakes and Co offered similar conditions at Cowper pit, Riddings.

Collieries Closed in 1871

  • Awsworth (Digby Coal Co) previously owned by EC Gillatt
  • Barlborough (M Barber)
  • Clay Cross (E Phillips)
  • Clay Cross (Thos Holdsworth)
  • Coleorton (Walker and Worswick) Leicestershire
  • Cotmanhay (Barber, Walker and Co)
  • Coton Park (Coton Park Coal Co)
  • Denby Iron Works (G and W Hope Dawes)
  • Exhibition (Butterley Co) Kilburn, thin coal, poor results, colliery connected to New Main
  • Hasland (George Senior) Dunston seam or Main soft, 61 yards (55m) and 29 yards (26m), pit connected to Whitebanks
  • Highfield (WB Wilson and Co) Deep Hard, Engine and Bye pit 170 yards (155m), furnace in pit bottom, Black Rake ironstone pit 70 yards (64m) finished after 11 years, a water drift, and development met old hollows (Speedwell to east), 60 yards (55m), an Old Colliery with Engine pit 60 yards (55m) deep and 9 old shafts to northeast of this, Surveyors Woodhouse and Jeffcock
  • High Moor (Wells?) Hazle seam, Michaelmas 1871
  • Killamarsh (Webster and Co)
  • Morley Park (R Hurt) (Clod or Blackshale or Park Hall seam)
  • Newbold Back Lane (E Taylor), Furnace seam, GB Beam
  • New Tapton (Locoford Coal Co Ltd)
  • Nibble and Clink (E Phillips?) Clay Lane, Clay Cross
  • Oakerthorpe (WB Wilson and Co) Furnace coal and ironstone, leased from RC Strelley
  • Speedwell Engine and Bye pit 60 yards (55m), (old Colliery Engine pit 60 yards (55m) deep to North)
  • Park Hall Farm pit (….?)
  • Ryefield Soft Coal (Derby Iron Co) Midsummer, old hollows met
  • Silkstone from Armitage Bros to Andrews Bros
  • Silver Hill (Teversall No1) Stanton Iron Works Co) Top Hard, met unknown hollows or old workings to the rise. From commencement to 2nd February 1871 the amount of coal worked was 7 acres 4 roods and 12 perches.
    (23 Pits)

Butterley Pits On Strike

The Butterley Co’s pits were on strike from December 1871 to January 1872 over weight payments, and Sir John Alleyne, the General Manager agreed finally to ‘reduce’ the amount of coal produced to 2,800 lb to the ton instead of the previous 3,000 lb to the ton. (Note there are 2,240 lb to one imperial ton). Due to the coal being wet when mined it was assumed that when it had dried out, prior to selling, that the weight would have decreased! Butterley Co acquired the Cordon Meadow colliery (John Beardsley) at Aldercar. Old headings were found passing through the take. It was referred to as Ormonde colliery also.

Lease Expired

The Duke of Newcastle’s Top Hard seam lease expired at Brinsley and his Grace granted a new lease of Deep Soft and Deep Hard coal to Barber, Walker and Co. The proposal was to work the two new seams by deepening the shafts at both Brinsley and Underwood and then connect the two pits underground for ventilation purposes, and transfer men from Beggarlee colliery and the Underwood Top Hard seam pit.

The photo shows a miner coming home from work at the pit met by his children.

The following pits were working:

  • Barlow
  • Boythorpe
  • Brampton
  • Clay Cross
  • Dronfield Silkstone
  • Dunston
  • Grassmoor
  • Hasland
  • Holmewood
  • Holmewood Top
  • Lings, Morton
  • Nesfield
  • Parkhouse
  • Pilsley
  • North Wingfield
  • Shirland
  • New Staveley
  • Old Staveley
  • Whittington
  • Williamthorpe
  • Wingfield.

Fatal Accidents in 1871 Included

  • Babbington, Henry Elliott (..?) 20 Jun 1871
  • Brampton, William Bradshaw (23), transported tubs to the shaft side and assumed the chair was in the pit bottom but it was not, the tubs ran away and he was dragged and fell 15 yards (13.7m) into sump and drowned 30 Sep 1871
  • Cinderhill, Edwin Lane (19) 7 Jul 1871
  • Clay Cross, John Holbrook (14), fall of roof 28 Jul 1871
  • Clay Cross, Benjamin Hughes (48), caught in machinery on surface 11 Aug 1871
  • Clay Cross, James Elian (50), fall of roof 17 Oct 1871
  • Denby, Elijah Briggs (55), fall of roof 4 Aug 1871
  • Devonshire, Joseph West (..), fall of roof 11 Apr 1871
  • Foxley Oaks, Sam Turner (13), run over by tubs 1 Mar 1871
  • Hartshay, George Smith (55), fall of roof 1 Apr 1871
  • Highfield, Francis Carter (28), fall of roof 6 Feb 1871
  • Hollingwood, George Hewitt (42), fall of roof 29 Mar 1871
  • Hollingwood, Henry Samuel (14), run over by tubs 4 Dec 1871
  • Langley, William Thornhill (13), crushed by tubs 24 Jan 1871
  • Lings, Thomas Bradley (34), explosion of firedamp 16 May 1871
  • Marehay, William Stocks (52), fall of roof 5 Jan 1871
  • Newbold, Godfrey Simpson (21), fall of roof 24 Jun 1871
  • Norwood, 9 died in an explosion of firedamp, Nathaniel Barker (19), George Barthorpe (19), Thomas Chambers (22), John Drury (21), Ezikiel Hart (36), Thomas Hutchby (51), Enoch Lilley (34), Sam Lilley (25) John Severn (32) on 22 Nov 1871
  • Park House, James Haslam (40), fall of roof 13 Mar 1871
  • Pilsley, Thomas Walvin (46) and Elijah Anthony (29) killed in an explosion of firedamp 20 Mar 1871
  • Seymour, James Flowers (45), fall of coal 29 Sep 1871
  • Shipley, Sam White (15), fall of roof 4 Jan 1871
  • Shirland, Robinson Kelsey (26), fall of roof 7 Aug 1871
  • Speedwell, Thomas Stones (64), fall of roof 13 Oct 1871
  • Springwell, Joseph Faraday (45), run over by tubs 23 Sep 1871
  • Swannington, Thomas Webster (38), explosion of powder 21 Jan 1871
  • Swannington, John Bradley (27), fall of roof 15 Sep 1871
  • Tapton, Henry Siddall (16), run over by tubs 29 Jul 1871
  • Tapton, 4 died in an explosion of firedamp, Sam Furness, William Furness, Henry Lowe and Joseph Oakley on 21 Oct 1871
  • Waingroves, John Wild (14), fall in roadway 6 Jan 1871
  • Whitwick, William Simpson (36), fall of roof 8 Aug 1871
  • Whitwick, George Blockley (27), fall of roof 5 Oct 1871
  • Whitwick, William Haff (52), fall of roof 28 Nov 1871


Wallsend colliery Oct 1871, there was an explosion of gas caused by a naked candle.

Output 1871

  • 5,360,000 tons from 130 Derbyshire pits produced by 16,405 men and boys
  • 2,469,400 tons from 27 Nottinghamshire pits.
  • 699,900 tons from 12 Leicestershire pits.
  • Total sales of coal from the Erewash Valley had reached almost 2 million tons, with 148,926 tons transported by canal and 1,800,502 tons by rail.
  • The steady decline of canal transport was being replaced by an ever increasing amount being transported by rail.

The spending power of £1 in 1870-1871 was now about £46 as compared to 2010.

Return to Top

Pit Terminology - Glossary