This paper was presented by the author at the annual general meeting of The North of England Institute of Mining Engineers. This was held in July 1861 in Birmingham. The author was the Mines Inspector for the Midlands Region (Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire). There are references in the text to diagrams and maps, these were not available for scanning.
Winning And Working
Cinderhill Colliery, Near Nottingham.
By C. F. Stuart Smith, Derby
The meeting of the members of an Institute exclusively devoted to mining and its collateral branches, in the Midland Capital of the Coal and Iron Trades, appearing a no ordinary opportunity for bringing under notice the state of development which coal mining has attained in the Midland district, the writer trusts that the following sketch of the winning and working of the Top Hard seam at the Cinderhill and Babbington Collieries may not prove uninteresting.
The intention is to give a succinct account of this undertaking from its earliest commencement; pointing out, in proceeding, the various stages in the development of its resources, and such peculiarities, both physical and scientific, as may be deemed worth notice.
The works comprised in the Cinderhill and Babbington Collieries will be briefly glanced at; then their physical and geological position, especially that of Cinderhill; thirdly, the system there adopted, and the extent of the works at various stages in their development; and, lastly, the economy of the works from the commencement to the present time.
The Babbington and Cinderhill Collieries are now the property of Thomas North, Esq., and consist of five distinct winnings, three of which are in full working operation, and the other two will also be before the ensuing winter.
The seams worked are, taking Cinderhill as the point of section, the Top Hard, 222 Yards Deep, 5 feet 2 inches thick, used for house and steam purposes; the Deep Soft, 382 Yards Deep, 3 feet 1 inch thick, a bright, swift burning house coal; and the Deep Hard, 398 yards, 3 feet 3 inches thick, a strong steam coal.
The collieries are named, first, the Cinderhill No. 4, or Nuthall Pit, (vide map II.), 222 Yards Deep, working the Top Hard seam, an account of which will form the chief subject of this paper; secondly, the Newcastle Pits, 136 Yards Deep, also working the Top Hard seam; thirdly, the Top Hard at Kimberley, 125 Yards Deep, the headings for working which are now being driven; fourthly, the Babbington No. 2, or Kimberley Pit, 273 Yards Deep, working the deep-hard and Deep Soft seams and, fifthly, the Cinderhill, Nos. 1 and 2, or deep pits, 480 Yards, where the workings in the Deep Soft seam are in the course of being opened. In addition to these, another winning, to be called the Broxtow Colliery, and which is to work the Deep Hard and soft seams, is already sunk to some depth, and arrangements are made for setting on almost directly other foundations. There are also large ironstone mines at Babbington, belonging to Mr. North, but worked by the Stanton Iron Company.
The whole of these works are in the south-west corner of Nottinghamshire, and are situated in the immediate vicinity of the town of Nottingham, the Newcastle Pits being within two miles, the Cinderhill within three miles, and the Kimberley, or Babbington, within five miles of that town.
The present outlets for the disposal of the coal are (vide map II.), on the east, by the Nottingham and Mansfield Branch of the Midland Railway, which brings these collieries nearest of any in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire to the Great Northern Railway system, via Grantham, for the shipping ports of Grimsby and Boston, and also for the home trade in that district. The Nottingham Canal, which is in connexion with the Trent Navigation, also forms an outlet on this side and on the west the communication is by the Erewash Valley Branch of the Midland Railway, connecting the collieries with the Eastern Counties and London and North-Western Railway systems, and also by the Erewash Canal, which is tributary to the Grand Junction and other Canals. The principal vend is, however, by landsale for the supply of the town and neighbourhood of Nottingham, both with house and steam coal, which, in addition to being sold at the various pit mouths, is, for the convenience of the traders, conveyed by private railway to six different wharfs, situated at the most convenient outlets (vide map II.), over a district eight miles in extent, reaching from the Radford Wharf, within one mile of the very centre of Nottingham, to Ilkeston, in Derbyshire. The railways are worked by locomotive and stationary engine power.
The whole of these collieries which are now being worked are situated (vide map II.) on the magnesian limestone and lower new red sandstone, or Permian formation and Cinderhill, the most eastwardly of them, was the one first sunk. Its geological position will be more clearly understood by reference to map II., where will be seen, on the right hand side, coloured various shades of red, a tract of light red sandstones and drift gravel, stretching east and spreading over a wide district, the boulders in which are supposed to have been washed from the granitic rocks of Norway and deposited here. Next to this lies the magnesian limestone (vide map II.), coloured buff, extending over a considerable area, and resting on the lower new red sandstone, coloured purple, a narrow belt of which, of nearly uniform width, is seen cropping out along the greater portion of its western margin, and lying immediately upon the coal measures, coloured grey, which extend thence several miles to the west.
Whether the lower new red and magnesian limestone lie conformably to the coal measures is very doubtful. In fact, it is generally supposed that they do not The coal measures mostly have a uniform dip towards the east.
On the south and south-east side (vide map II.) a large fault abruptly terminates the coal-field against the new red measures, while to the north it stretches uninterruptedly beyond Leeds. It was then, on the east side of this coal-field, and within four miles of its southern extremity, and within three miles of where the red ground had been worked up to on the south-east, but considerably in the dip of all workings in the neighbourhood, that, in 1840, the then proprietors of the Babbington old collieries determined to try and win the Top Hard seam.
The magnesian limestone had not at this time been sunk through in this district, or such a thin crust had been met with as not to have been noticed, and there was an opinion prevalent that the coal measures terminated abruptly against the new red formation on the east, as on the south and south-east (vide map II.).
Some forty years previous the estate had been reported on by the most eminent viewer in the district, and pronounced to contain no coal, and this was still the general belief, so much so, that only a few years previously a large portion of the adjoining estate had been sold for a comparatively small amount. The proprietors, however, commenced to make trials, by sinking and boring; but the variable thickness, and apparently contorted position of the magnesian limestone confirmed, in the minds of most people, the belief that the coal in this district was out off or thrown out.
In the meantime Mr. North was unwilling to abandon the establishment of a colliery in so favourable a situation without another effort.
For a considerable time previous to this Mr. Woodhouse had been fully persuaded that the eastwardly dip of the coal measures continued uninterruptedly under the magnesian limestone, and in order to prove the correctness of this, which was a favourite theory of his, he had, in 1839, at considerable cost, undertaken a deep boring on the Duke of Newcastle’s estate, at Lady Lee, near Worksop, (vide map II.,) and close to the present Shire Oaks Colliery, about twenty-two miles north of Cinderhill, where, after passing through about 160 yards of magnesian limestone, and lower new red sandstone, the coal measures were found, as he had anticipated.
In 1841 a pair of seven feet shafts, the present Nos. 1 and 2 pits, were commenced at Cinderhill, near to the trial holes, and after sinking through about sixteen yards of magnesian limestone and red sandstone, the coal measures were reached; and, at the depth of 222 yards, the Top Hard seam, five feet two inches thick, was won.
In laying out the works, it was determined to adopt a system which would ensure their full development on a scale commensurate with the important position it was foreseen they were destined shortly to occupy.
After the opening of the colliery the demand rapidly increased, and as rapidly were the works extended. On the north side, which was the district first opened, a large fault was ascertained to run north-west and south-east, at some distance in advance of the faces; and another upthrow having been met with in the levels, running in a more eastwardly and westwardly direction, it became necessary, in order that the supply might not fail, immediately to make preparations for opening new works on the estate, the greater portion of which lay on the north-east or dip side of the levels, and was unproved.
A stone drift was driven from the No. 1 pit bottom to the fault in the deep, and levels driven to the south; but this district proved to be so broken up by faults as to preclude any great extension of the works in that direction.
There was still a very general opinion that the fault to the deep was the boundary of the coal-field, or its eastward termination against the new red formation.
Various obstacles combined to render the opening of another and distinct winning on the estate impossible. There was the landlord’s objection to having his property cut up by railways and cart roads, and to having the works brought into any closer proximity to his mansion. There was the consideration of the expense of sinking a deep foundation on unproved ground, and of constructing the works for the conveyance of the minerals, if found. But, above all, there was the necessity, in order to avoid competition, of keeping near the market; for though by this time (1845) a new line had been constructed to the Nottingham Canal, and a wharf made for water-sale within three miles of the colliery, and the Erewash Valley Railway, about four miles distant, was in progress, which now form main outlets, still the legitimate vend was undoubtedly by landsale, and any new winning must have been made at a greater distance from Nottingham. It was, therefore, determined not to remove the establishment, but to drive through the fault on the deep side of the north levels, and so prove the estate. Accordingly, in March, 1845, a stone drift, running N.E. 16°, was commenced at the end of the north levels. For two years this was unceasingly driven on. It was carried six feet wide, with a brick brattice down one side for ventilation, and at the expiration of that time it was nearly 700 yards in from where it struck off from the levels, and still the signs of finding the coal were as dubious as ever. The dip of the measures was considerably less than on the west side of the fault, not being above one in eight, and the level course was altered 40° to the north, and it began to be confidently asserted that the coal would not be found. A mining engineer of the district went down and examined the drift, and reported to the proprietors that it was useless to prosecute the work farther, for there was no coal to be found. In three days after this, while the proprietors were yet undecided whether to take this gentleman’s advice, and abandon the search, the coal was found on the 14th of September, 1847, at 730 yards in from the level, of full thickness and equal quality to that on the south-west side of the fault, thus corroborating the theory of the continuous eastwardly dip of the coal measures under the magnesian limestone. The drift was now stopped, and preparations were made for sinking a shaft at the extremity of it, for the purpose of ventilation only.
This new upcast, or No. 3 pit, was made ten feet in diameter, and tubbed and lined with fire-brick. It is a little to the rise of the stone drift (vide map I.). As soon as the shaft was down, the stone drift was arched nearly throughout its entire length, except where the measures were sufficiently strong to stand without support, the road being made from five to six yards wide, and laid with a double line of chair rails, 30 lbs. per yard.
At this time Mr. North, who was now sole proprietor, was very anxious to prove the deep seams on this estate without delay, as the demand for these descriptions of coal was greatly increasing, and his supply was limited. It was, therefore, determined to sink the Nos. 1 and 2 shafts down to the bottom hard and soft seams, 180 yards lower, and also to sink another and larger shaft for drawing from the top hard, and also as a downcast.
On the 10th of August, 1853, the present winding shaft, called the No. 4 pit, was commenced over the north level, and but a short distance from the Nos. 1 and 2 pits. An interesting circumstance may here be mentioned, connected with the sinking down of the No. 2 pit to the bottom hard. This shaft was still being used for coal drawing, the No. 4 was not being ready to take its place, and a difficulty arose how to sink this shaft down without interfering with the coal drawing. There was a stone drift twenty-five yards below the bottom of No. 2 pit, which is the one mentioned as being driven to bring the coals out of the south district. Of this, and the inclines connecting it with the shaft, a very careful survey was made, and then the drift was extended exactly under the No. 2 pit, and the centre of the shaft above accurately determined. A gin was erected in this stone head, and sinking commenced without causing any interruption to the coal drawing. Afterwards, the crust of twenty-five yards, between the original bottom of the shaft and the new one to the lower mines, was sunk through, and the centre proved to be perfectly true.