I am preparing a lecture for the Arkwright Society at Cromford Mill on the History of Colwick Locomotive depot, Nottinghamshire, where my family worked from 1881.
The books on the Depot tell me that it was built to serve the coalfields of Notts and Derbyshire. However the Depot opened in 1875 and Gedling Colliery in 1899.
I would be grateful if you could tell me what other Collieries would have used Colwick. On the Colwick Depot plan of 1872 the Derbyshire Staffordshire railway is shown. The text tells me that the first load from Pinxton went in 1876I but what other collieries would have used Colwick before Gedling opened?
I am also interested in how Collieries got the Coal to the railheads etc. Whether it was hand loaded into wagons or --------?
To what extent were Canals and the River Trent used to transport coal to a Depot like Colwick?
Any help you can give me is appreciated.
Thank you, Janet Ede
Thank you for the information below regarding coal mining and transport. Without the expert knowledge we make so many assumptions and I can see from what you say that it is the intensive use of manpower. This was the case at Colwick as the Coaling plant - (it was called the Cenotaph when I was a child) - and dominated Netherfield, it was not built until 1935. I suppose manpower was cheap at the loading level as you point out.
This is all helpful information for me.
My Dad was Shedmaster at Annesley loco.
Fionn Got this information from my British Railways Maps and Gazetteer 1825 to 1985.
Quite complicated as you can see.
It would appear that there was a direct line to Colwick by the Great Northern Railway Co. getting there in July 1880.
This opened up outlets for:-
- Gedling 1902, via Daybrook to Bestwood sunk 1872/74
- Hucknall 2 sunk 1866
- Linby sunk 1873/74
- Newstead 1874/75
- Annesley 1867
- Kirkby 1890
- Pilsley 1865, end
- Pleasley 1875
- Langwith 1886, end.
- Gedling 1902.
Another route by Great Northern was via Kimberley, Eastwood to Pye Hill 1875 and to Pinxton 1780 and 1840s
Another branch beyond Kimberley and Awsworth to Heanor and a
Another to Ilkeston where there were several pits.
The Midland Railway connected to Lenton, Radford 1874, via Basford to Watnall branch then:-
- Hucknall 1866
- Linby 1874
- Kirkby 1890
- Shirebrook 1897
- Langwith 1886
- Whitwell 1891.
Another route...branch near Pleasley to Bolsover 1891 and on to Staveley.
A further route...via Lenton, Radford 1874, Trowell, branch to Ilkeston, end, several pits.
Via Nottingham to, Derby to Kilburn, Denby 1850, to Butterley.
From Derby to Ambergate and on to Clay Cross pits and Staveley pits.
The Midland Railway had more connections and routes but there must have been dual running near Colwick I have given sinking/ production dates for most of the major collieries. Pick out the ones for your date.
This gives a very generalised idea of the pits where coal was being transported to Colwick.
There was no wharf at Colwick for Canals so that transport was not used only to Nottingham in the early days.
All pits around that era had installed screening plants that were built above a series of rail tracks underneath with empty wagons being lowered from the empty truck sidings down beneath the screens. The coal would come up the shaft in wooden tubs then eventually steel tubs the coal would be emptied onto a wide belt by means of a tippler, hand operated originally then semi automated. Each tub would be marked so that it would be known who had loaded the coal by hand or fork or shovel underground and this would be weighed before being sent to the tippler for payment purposes. The tub tracks would be so graded so that the full trams ran by gravity to the tippler then the empty trams gravitated back to the shaft. Unless authorised any dirt or small coal or dust sent out of the pit would not be paid for.
Tub Tippler at Baggeridge - Photo from Black Country Society by Bob Gilbody
The large plate belt would be at right angles to the tracks beneath the building. This delivered onto other belts sometimes having differing sized holes allowing the smaller coal to fall through the first holes and by making the holes smaller further along the screen larger lumps of coal would be obtained.
These could have been sloping jigs that utched the run of mine output along or there would have been a wide plate belt moving slowly along doing the same thing. There could have been around a dozen men either side sorting the coal sizing or taking any dirt and throwing it into a hopper or a chute into a wagon for the purpose. The coal was sized from large lumps, which were preferred, down to about 3 inches in size. Anything below that size would be classed as unsaleable at that time and would used in the boilers or discarded onto the dirt tip. So as not to break the big lumps when sending it down into a wagon beneath there was a jib that could be raised and lowered accordingly so as to gently lower the lumps into the bottom of the truck and raising the chute as the truck filled up. Each grade of coal was loaded into a different railway truck that passed below the screening plant and the chutes or later conveyors delivered the said grade. Eventually the trucks would made up into a train and weighed at the full weigh and a ticket would clipped onto the wagon detailing weights empty and full and the destination of the coal.
The men doing the sorting were on the lowest pay and were men usually unfit to work underground or men who had been injured underground and would be offered this type of job. It would have been very noisy, cold, draughty, possible dusty and picking up coal and sharp pieces of dirt would cut the hands as no gloves would be worn. The surface men always worked longer hours than the underground men for less money.
When the coal trucks reached their destination depending upon the size of the enterprise there could have been a tippler or hoist for emptying the coal but if only a small concern the coal would have been shovelled out of the wagons by hand into carts to be pulled by horses to deliver to various addresses as required. The job of sorting, loading, delivering, reloading the coal was highly intensive in manpower. Of course eventually after the advent of motor cars and in the 1920s on some companies for example Bestwood had their own fleet of lorries.