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The Decline Of The Industry Continued
After Nationalisation 1947


The 18th Century


Iron Production

Iron production started at Staveley in 1700, coal having been worked around the area for many years previously.  There was a lease by the Crown in 1702 to Obadiah Boot for 31 years @ £4 per annum to work coal at Swanwick.

John Wilkins

John Wilkins was the prominent mine owner in (South Derbyshire) at this time working pits at Coleorton, Measham, Newbold, Oakthorpe and Swannington.


Quite few small pits were being exploited now by entrepreneurs who could see that for a reasonable outlay a vast profit could be made as the coal now was being used in the various industries setting up. Labour was cheap.

Monarchy And Parliament

Queen Anne succeeded to the throne from 1702-1714 and from 1702 until 1710 a Whig/Tory Government was in power. A Tory Government succeeded until 1714. This was followed by a long Whig regime until 1762. The first Prime Minister was Sir Robert Walpole (Whig) 1721-1742.

Newcomen "atmospheric" engine

Newcomen "Atmospheric" Engine

A steam engine for pumping water was perfected in 1708 by Thomas Newcomen; however it would be 20 years before they were introduced into the East Midlands. The first steam engine to pump water was at Dudley in the West Midlands in 1712. Chain pumps constructed by fixing a number of circular and flat pistons working in a barrel fastened to a chain which worked a cog wheel at the top and sometimes at the bottom were in use. The wheel revolved, causing the chain to revolve also and carry empty buckets to the water below which when filled, the bucket was wound to the top and the water discharged. Horses were used previously to drive the cog system, and prior to that it had been ‘hand wallowing’. Wilkins and Sparrow agreed to pay John Meeres of London £100 annual rent for an engine at Measham. These Newcomen engines were very expensive to produce probably costing up to £1,000. They were difficult to maintain and only a few people were able to repair them.

Molyneux Family

The Molyneux family of Teversal Manor was paying for the continuation of the sough called the New Inn Level near Fackley in 1703 and a new sough at Blackwell was commenced about this time again financed by Sir John Molyneux. Another sough was the Robeyfields or Loscoe sough, constructed by John Fletcher. He also constructed a sough at Langley to drain the Top Hard to the Bailey Brook and another at Owlgroves (Shipley) to the River Erewash.

A Terrible Storm

Thousands of trees were uprooted in 1703. This was followed by a very dry summer in 1705 and an exceptionally wet winter from Sep 1706 to 8 Feb 1707.

First Whymsey At Ripley

The first Whymsey pit in Ripley Liberty was sunk in 1704 to the Ripley Old Hard coal.  A level was driven to drain the Hard coal (sough?) – later referred to as Bokay sough (a very ancient tunnel to drain Ripley Old Hard coal, the mouth being near to Padley Hall). A friend Ian Castledine of Ripley located the site from a plan supplied by me and found that water was still issuing from the ground at that spot in 2010.
"The Compleat Collier"

A book called ‘The Compleat Collier’ was produced by an unknown author in 1708 mainly directed to the North East collieries and their methods of work. No doubt this book would have been read by the owners of the pits in our region at some later period taking into account the output of these northern pits and the import of the coal to London, a destination unthought-of or impossible to transport any Midland coal to at the time.

Surveyors To Erect Stoops

In Derbyshire the Justices ordered Surveyors to erect stoops or direction guide posts at crossroads in 1709.

Chartermen To Pay For Props

At Tibshelf in 1710, the Chartermen had to pay the cost of punching the pit (props), raising the coal and including paying the wages of two banksmen.

North West Derbyshire Coalfield

In 1705 there were shallow pits at Ollersett and Beard, and up to 30 pits around New Mills (North West Derbyshire).

The term Banksman here relates to the person in charge of the mine.

These are a few of the remarks in the ledger and relate to the pits working at the time.

The ledger opposite, 1711 Accounts book, (is kept at the Derbyshire Records Office, Matlock) relates to the group of small mines in the remote Coalfield in North West Derbyshire beyond Buxton where the seams were only about 1' 8 " thick (1/2 m), poor quality and used for the local market and for lime burning.

1711 - William Carrington received from the Banksman... Dirt Hole £1.0s.0d
and William Bennet 1s.0d

May 1711 - Acre Nook pitt, Robert Collier, Banksman.
Burnd Edge
Dirt Hole

21 July 1711 - Dirt Hole New
Gaskill pitt

24 May 1712 - Dirt Hole.... scores 25 value £2.1s.8d, profit £1.0s.0d
Gaskill... scores 11 value 18s.0d, profit 8s 9d
Burnd Edge... scores 18 value £1.10s.0d profit 14s.3d

1713 - Pott pitt
New Miln

1729 - Top o'th'Moor... Jarvis Collier, Banksman
New Miln... William Heathcote, Banksman
Acre Nook... Joseph Rowbotham, Banksman

1734/35 - New Miln ...James Wild, Banksman

1735/36 - Beard Moor...Josepth Rowbotham, Banksman

1737 - Edward Bennets pit....Geo Mellor, Banksman
Burnd Edge...William Heathcote, Banksman
Valentine Wyld,Banksman

1740 - Topp o'th'Moor...Joseph Rowbotham, Banksman
Hole'th'Lane....James Beard, Banksman

1747/48 - Burnd Edge....James Beard, Banksman
Burnd Edge Hill Coals...Valentine Wyld...pitt

1749/50 - Engine pitt...Valentine Wyld, Banksman

1751/52 - Top o'th'Moor...Joseph Rowbotham, Banksman
Engine pitt...Valentine Wyld, Banksman

1754 Jan 7 Settled £114.8s.11d
William Bennet
William Carrington Dr...his salary £23.0s.0d

1755 - Top o'th'Moor....Joseph Rowbotham, Banksman
Old Engine pitt....James Beard, Banksman
New Engine.....James Beard

A further page from the ledger


A ‘Viewer’ or ‘Mester’ in charge of 3 or 4 pits could have been earning 15s to 20s (75p to £1) a week (Between £60 and £85 equivalent in 2010), whereas a hewer was earning 12d (5p) to 14d (5¾p) a day, (approx 30p to 35p a week, £24.50 to £28.75 equivalent in 2010)

A Viewer was a man skilled in ‘coalery’ and more than likely expert in finding coal, estimating and exploiting coal deposits and yield. That is why such a man was in great demand and highly rewarded.


Robert and John Fletcher began to sink pits at Denby (North Derbyshire) in 1713. Whiteley pit was sunk prior to 1705 and was closed in 1715. Would be re-opened, see 1810.


The first Hanoverian King George I reigned from 1714-1727. He spoke no English, only German.

South Derbyshire

Newhall and Stanton pits were leased by Adderley in 1714. Five pits worked by Humphrey Peace, Robert Parker, William Orgill, John Fletcher and another in Hardwick’s Yard.

Chesterfield Area

Coal was being worked at Littlemoor and Whittington Moor in 1717 and at Newbold Common and Nether Green in 1718


Nuthall pit (J Wolston) (Nottinghamshire) was sunk in 1720. Around this time, mining recommenced at Trowell.

Fire Engine

A ‘fire engine’ by Newcomen was established at Swannington and allowed water to be pumped from out of the mine from the deeper seams enabling them to be worked. Previously water could only be removed using horses to raise containers, a very slow and tedious process, if complete drainage was done at all. The first Newcomen pumping engine was installed at Coneygree colliery North East England in 1712 and the first in the Midlands at Griff in Warwickshire.


Measham colliery (John Wilkins and Geo Sparrow) New pit, Hedge pit, Engine pit, Old Pasture pit, New Pasture pit, Dawsons, Bendys and Betteridges pit (July 1722, 14 men). In 1723 there was another new pit called (John) Ensors (19 men). However around this period there was a fluctuation in the demand for coal and uncertainty of orders and at some pits stocks were mounting at the pithead due to lack of orders. The horsekeeper earned 4s 6d (22½ p) per week. The deepest pit was 20 ells (75ft or 22.9m). 1 ell is 3ft 9in or 1.14m in this case.

Lord Huntingdon's and John Wilkins pits to the north west had closed.


The first Prime Minister was Robert Walpole 1721-1741



Some workers drafted into the area originated in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire and were called ‘strangers’. More than likely these men were skilled at various jobs, such as sinking and heading out for example. Longwall system of mining introduced from Shropshire.

Langley Mill

By 1723 the Langley Old Pit (Derbyshire) had closed and the timber had been withdrawn.  Other pits at Langley were the Old Bob, the New Bob, Brookbottom, Sough pit, and George Bircumshaws and Kerrys in the ‘Field’ at Langley Common.  


At Smalley a sough was driven from Kidsley Park to Park Brook near Smalley Green.  There was an Engine pit (Richardson’s) near the Coach Road to Shipley, a Crank pit and Clep pit. 


There were pits in (Nottinghamshire) at Nuttall (J Wolston), Strelley (Firestone), Selston (Pinxton Field) and Loscoe sough and at Eastwood there was a Beggarlee pit (Barber and Walker) (Nottinghamshire).


The Swannington pits (John Wilkins and Capt Adams), 5 were run by charter masters... Edward Gassett, John Burton, Thomas Slator, Henry King and Harris. Only 3 were productive for most of the time. Pits listed as Quarry pit, New Ingine pit, 2 pits in the meadow, a pit in the Mellows, a shaft in Dodges Meadow, Bassett pit, the pit on the hill, the pit by Harriss garden, Deep pit, Woodhouse Yard pit and Talbot Wood pit.... 12 pits in total.

John Wilkins died in 1726 and Capt Adams continued to operate Swannington colliery until he died in 1729 when William Newark took over as Manager. They were using a horse engine, water engine and two steam engines for drainage.

Glasshouse coal pits to the east of Measham were being worked by Sparrow and Pilkington at this time whereas Lord Huntingdon’s and John Wilkins pits to the northwest had closed.

Pack Horses

Around 1725, packhorses carried 2 sacks each of around one bushel of coal in each from the pits to the buyers.

Wage Rates

Wage rates at Measham (John Wilkins and George Sparrow) were...piece-rate for sinking 6s 6d (32½p) and heading 2s 6d (12½p) per ell. The charter masters earned about 8s (40p) per week before any bonus. Miners got about 6s (30p) while horse keepers got 4s 6d (22½p), enginemen 8s (40p) and blacksmiths 6s (30p). At the Swannington pits (John Wilkins and Capt Adams) they had 2 steam engines for drainage (one installed in 1724), a water engine and a horse engine for coal winding. Shortly after the death of John Wilkins in 1726 George Sparrow teamed up with a new partner from Measham, Thomas Pilkington. These two sank a new engine pit 24 ells (27.5m) deep and a working pit 28 ells (32m) deep to the Main coal seam in Glasshouse Field. The pit was run by Bendy and Co.

The population of (Derbyshire) had further increased to over 114,000.  Miners’ wages were now between 12d (5p) and 18d (7½p) per day. The £ equivalent to 2010 was around £80, so 5p would equal about £4.


There was a further Crown lease in 1726 to Charles Turner (d 1736) for a term of 24 years to work coals at Swanwick (Derbyshire) from July 1733.  His executors formed the Swanwick Colliery Co under the general management of Anthony Tissington (ex General Manager for Turner).

On 18th April 1726 there was a 99 year lease by Thomas Robey to John Fletcher in Robey’s land at Denby (North Derbyshire) …‘to sink pits’.


George II was on the throne from 1727 to 1760, a period of 33 years.


Stanier, Francis and Richard Parrott were working pits within the Manor of Overton Saucy including Coleorton Farm and Coleorton Moor.


John Fletcher took a lease from Sir Robert Sutton dated 1728 for working coal (royalty 1s (5p) for every load mined) and there was an elaborate lease in 1738 from Squire Edge and others to the Barber and Walker partnership at Strelley (Nottinghamshire).  This envisaged Barber and Walker to sink pits, erect engines, make drains and ways etc for 99 years at a rent of 1s 3d per (6¼p) stack load of 50 cwts (2½ tons), or about 6d (2½p) per ton.  £1 equivalent in 2010 would be £85.

Coal Delph

At the Coal Delph at Newhall colliery (George Sparrow and Charles Adderley) there were 5 pits at work under the control of John Fletcher, William Orgill, Robert Parker, Humphrey Peace and another in charge of pit in Hardwick’s Yard. The shafts were lined with timber and used gins or turn barrels, ropes and skips. There was also a sough pit for drainage of water. It is possible that Newhall ceased production around this time and would not be in production again until around 1735.

Pumping Engine Established At Measham

Newcomen pumping engines began to be introduced to the area, the first one was at Measham (then in South Derbyshire) in 1729. The new efficient pumps would allow dip areas of coal seams to be worked that were thought impossible to be mined previously, therefore lengthening the life of some mines.

First Fire Damp Drainage System

Incidentally, firedamp was becoming a big problem and the first mine to drain the gas to the surface through a 2” (0.05m) square wooden pipe to exhaust into the atmosphere was at Salton pit, Whitehaven, Cumberland where gas was coming out of a blower at the face. This experiment was used and improved upon throughout the next couple of centuries or so and the essence of the idea would help to keep mines open, whereas they could have been closed.

Certain seams and pits in the region would be susceptible to blowers of gas in the future – (one at Harworth, (Nottinghamshire) in Feb/Mar 2005 yielding 60% methane from the floor of the Deep Soft seam (from Deep Hard seam?), stopping the coal working for 3 weeks, even though methane drainage holes were drilled on a regular pattern and two 16” (0.40m) diameter pipes were in the gate linked to the borehole system to drain the gas away!)

North West Derbyshire

Early 18th Century coalmining in the shallow pits on the exposed moors of Ollersett and Beard noted around 30 pits was working around New Mills in the Goyte ValleyPits were also working at Bassett Skirts in Derbyshire.

First Factory

The 18th Century was the period of the Industrial Revolution. Jebediah Strutt of South Normanton along with Richard Arkwright constructed the World's first factory.