The Coal Mining History Resource Centre
Ian Winstanley is a retired teacher (science, not history!) who now spends most of his time researching and writing about mining history. His interest stems from the memories of his maternal grandfather who was born in Haydock, Lancashire about 1880 and spent his working life in the Haydock collieries before retiring in December 1946, just before the nationalisation of the industry. Ian spent much time in his formative years with his grandfather and was enthralled by his stories.
Since he retired he and ‘Picks Publishing’ have become one. He has produced several well-received books in this field including, ‘Weep Mothers Weep’, the story of the Wood Pit disaster, Haydock in June, 1878, ‘With Hearts so Light’, the story of the Queen Pit Explosions in Haydock in 1868 and 1869 and ‘The Unfortunate Colliery’, High Brooks, Ashton-in-Makerfield in the 1860’s.
With a friend and co-author, Geoff Simm, they produced ‘Mining Memories’ for the 1990 Mining Festival in St. Helens and these two have made available photographs taken at the Wood Pit at the time of the 1878 disaster in ‘In Affectionate Remembrance’.
Picks Publishing has also reprinted books that are of unique local and national interest. ‘The Compleat Collier’ is probably the first treatise on coal mining and was first published in 1708. ‘The Romance of Coal’ was an example of an early public relations document produced in the early 1930’s and gives a detailed account of Richard Evans and Co., a Lancashire coal company based in Haydock.
Under the brief of local interest, some research brought to light an unpublished edition of ‘The Diary of Roger Lowe of Ashton-in-Makerfield, 1663-1671’ which Picks Publishing had great delight in putting into print. Roger is the little known ‘Lancashire Samuel Peyps.
Ian has appeared on local and national radio and was hailed as ‘Lancashire’s leading mining historian’ though he would strongly dispute this claim. He works from home and is always ready to answer family history queries and share his knowledge with anyone who is interested. His talks to Historical Societies, Rotary Clubs and the local Libraries are always well attended.
Ian does not call himself a writer. As the Lancashire pits have disappeared, so have the records. He sees it as important to document as many of those records as he can, present them as human interest stories and try to keep alive, if only in print, the memory of the proud heritage of the once great, Lancashire Coalfield and Britain’s mining heritage.
After a chance meeting with the American author, Martin Cruz Smith, Ian received a credit in the acknowledgements of his latest book ‘Rose’ which was the author’s first historical novel set in Wigan in the 1870’s.
He has published ‘Mining Deaths in Great Britain’ which are indexed lists of mining deaths from 1850-1914 and edited and reprinted ‘Children in the Mines. The 1842 Report. Lancashire’. He started a Database of ‘Mining Deaths in Great Britain’ and after several years hard slog, decided to start a web site. Since joining the web community, life changed! The site has proved very popular and he gets many inquiries about names on the database. Work in extending the Database of Mining Deaths and Injuries. after tracking down and entering much information from the Mines Inspectorate post 1914 the database has now grown to about 200,000 entries and is still growing.
2002 was an eventful year with Ian having a heart attack and making his failing bid to be the healthiest looking corpse in the mortuary. He has made a full recovery, but is unable to work at the speed he did before the illness, so he has hung up his pick.
What Became of the COAL MINING HISTORY RESOURCE CENTRE
It started in the late 1980’s when I researched a book, Weep Mothers Weep, an account of the Wood Pit explosion in Haydock, 1878. Haydock was the place of my birth and the book was well received. I realised there was little information available about the history of the coal industry and particularly the men, women and children who worked and died in the pursuit of coal. I was fortunate to track down and be given access many primary sources and my grateful thanks goes to the many, libraries, record offices, archives, official offices, local history societies and many individuals in gathering a wealth of information. It was the early days of the worldwide web and I was persuaded to start building a site and CMHRC was born and became the home of The NATIONAL DATABASE of MINING DEATHS and INJURIES recording over 200,000 incidents and information on disasters, location of mines and made rare documents available. Interest in family history was rising and the web site caught the attention of the BBC magazine Who Do You Think You Are. The site was growing and became very well known and numerous visits and positive reviews but then I fell ill and could not maintain the site. Rayleys Solicitors developed the site and the database until they went into admistration and cmhrc.co.uk passed into a web archive.
I would like to thank HEALEY HERO and Fionn Taylor for reviving the new COAL MINING HISTORY RESOURCE CENTRE for many more to use and enjoy.
Ian Winstanley Dec. 2019.
During WW1 the Inspectors Reports were sensitive documents and were not released under DORA (Defence of the Realm Act) and after the war the practice of the tabular lists was suspended. Post WW1 these tabular registers were continued by the Inspectorate but were not published. The database contains much of this information for some areas but not all the country is represented. The information is available if someone out there is mad enough to continue the project.
Many individuals and Family History Societies contributed information for which I am very grateful. For those who find the database useful I wish you success in your family quest.
Ian Winstanley 2017.