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Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire
and Leicestershire


Mundy Family

Shipley Hall

Shipley Hall, seat of the Mundy Family
(More about the Mundys at Mapperley History)

The Mundy family was involved in coal mining around Heanor area in 1734.


Due to inflation and other factors £100 in 1735 would be worth £8,600 in 2016

Newcomen Steam Engines

By now 25 Newcomen steam engines were in use, thereby resulting in a massive expansion in the number of mine shafts to supply the demand for coal.  One was installed at Smalley in 1735, Staveley in 1769, Alfreton, Stainsby, Barlow and Ilkeston by 1775 - 1776 and Oakerthorpe in 1791.

Value of the Pound

The £ equivalent would be approximately £85 in 2010.


Several turnpike roads criss-crossed the area with Colerton being on a major cross roads.


In 1735 land at Smotherfly, near Swanwick, was sold for about £100.  The underground riches would not be exploited fully until the late 20th Century, culminating in the open casting of several seams and yielding up to a million tons of coal.


Act For Preventing Malicious Damage

An Act of Parliament enacted in the tenth year of reign of George II (1737) for further and more effectually preventing the wilful and malicious destruction of Collieries and Coal Works.

Basically it was passed as a preventative measure against anything being destroyed by drowning out a colliery to enhance the price of coals and the monopoly thereof.  If a person who had maliciously set on fire or cause to set on fire any Mine, Pit, or Delph of coal, or Cannel coal, and was found guilty of the offence in a Court of Law they would be put to death.

From 12th June 1740 anyone who unlawfully, wilfully and maliciously divert, or cause to divert Water from any River, Brook, Watercourse, Channel or Land flood, or convey, or cause to be conveyed Water into any Coal Work, Mine, Pit, or Delph of Coal, or into any subterraneous Cavities or Passages with design thereby to destroy or damage any of the afore mentioned or maliciously destroy or obstruct any Sough or Sewer (which has been a Sough or Sewer in common for 50 years) made for draining any Coal Work etc as above, shall aid or assist or pay to the aggrieved Party or Parties, treble Damages and full Costs of Suit, to be sued for and recovered by Action of Debt, Bill, Plaint or Information in any of His Majestys Courts of Record at Westminster, providing that as always they were not the Owners of any of the above, whereby they would be allowed by law to do so. Sir Wolston Dixie and Sir Robert Sutton had pits near Selston Hall and Sir Wolston Dixie and a Mr Saville worked pits at Wansley, near Brinsley and by 1739 there were upwards of 20 collieries in the Erewash Valley, Nottinghamshire, but trade was slack, giving a surplus of miners, many of the mines being stood.


Coal hewers in the area were now earning between 1s 6d (7½p) and 1s 10d (9p) a day.  There were still around 30 mines in Derbyshire

Coal For Industry

Apart from domestic heating, coal began to be used for brick making, lead smelting in cupolas, lime burning, pottery making and for the new steam engines.

Important Coal Owners

James Burslem became the most important colliery owner in Leicestershire and South Derbyshire after 1740. The Earl of Huntingdon was working mines at Oakthorpe and George Sparrow working mines at Measham.

On 24th June 1740, Fletcher and other owners of collieries at Heanor, Smalley and Denby, having been accused of monopolising the sale of coals, denied and offered to supply any coals at 2s 6d (12½p) to 3s (15p) a ton, for 40 years to come, and to give security for the performance of the same. (Précis from Glovers Derbyshire, 1831).


Included Denby Old Hall pit (Lowe)


1747: Nuthall pit (Holden) sunk in 1720 by Js Wolston was closed due to an underground fire.

Cupolas Introduced

A Company of Quakers from Wales introduced cupolas or low arched reverberatory furnaces for lead ore smelting into Derbyshire at Kelstedge near Ashover, in 1747.  Cupola was a term used later to denote a chimney or shaft from a furnace at coalmines.

Philip Hutchinson's Plan

The Loscoe sough was surveyed by Philip Hutchinson in January 1739 but it was not yet at work

The plan of the coal seams or veins of coal to the North West of Nottingham by Philip Hutchinson, 1739, shows soughs made by John Fletcher and Sons and pits at Swanwick, wrought or worked by owner Madam Morewood, Pentridge (Haslam), Ripley (E Fletcher), Denby wrought by William Drury Lowe Esq. and son, Loscoe sough at  Hayna (Heanor) not yet at work, Langley sough Marehay, Selston (unwrought, Sir Wolston Dixey and Sir Robert Sutton and some part wrought by Coote), Pinxton Field Wansley (William Fenton – Duke of Newcastle and Sir ‘Wollastone’ Dixy or Dixie), Brinsley (Messrs Barber and Walker)

Kimberley sough (Lord Stamford)
Smal(l)ey (T Allen)
Shipley, Ilkeston (in the Lordship, divers collieries) (Potter and Bourne), Duke of Rutland
Nuthal(l) (Holden)
Wollaton wrought by Lord Middleton
Cossall (Barber and Walker)
West Hallam (Mrs Sutton), (Sir Windsor Hunlock) and Bilborrow (Bilborough) (Thomas Barber and Walker).  It was noted that the vein of coal at Swanwick ran north through Scarsdale to Yorkshire. Tramways ran from Kimberley, Bilborough and Wollaton pits to Nottingham.  Three of the soughs made to ‘unwater’ the coal seams emptied into the River Erewash which is the natural boundary for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The First Railway In The Country

As stated before was from Strelley to Nottingham opened in 1604.

To the bottom right of the plan are shown some railways (railroads). One leads from Kimberly (Kimberley) passing by Nuthall, another from Bilburrow (Bilborough) and one from Wollerton (Wollaton) into Nottingham.

Price Of Coal

In South Derbyshire at Measham and Oakthorpe pits the selling price previously at the pithead was between 1s 6d (7½p) and 2s 0d (10p) a ton and in Leicester 10s (50p) a ton after being delivered by packhorse or donkey train. The coal ‘higgler’ at the pithead payed (paid) 9d (4p) to 1s 0d (5p) for each donkey load taken away. This obviously led to the poor animals being grossly overloaded.

Busby worked a pit at Newbold. Newhall pit had closed in 1730s due to finance.

Fatal Accident 1747

Strelley Colliery, Joseph Kirke fell down a coal pit, buried 13 Jan 1747.


Output from Nottinghamshire mines estimated at 140,000 tons for the year 1750.


Prime Ministers

Earl of Wilmington (Whig)              Henry Pelham (Whig)     

  • Earl of Wilmington (Whig) 1742 - 1743
  • Henry Pelham (Whig) 1743 - 1754
  • Duke of Newcastle (Whig) 1754 - 1756
  • Duke of Devonshire (Whig) 1756 - 1757
  • Duke of Newcastle (Whig) 1757 - 1762
  • Earl of Bute (Tory) 1762 - 1763
  • George Grenville (Whig) 1763 - 1765
  • Marquis of Rockingham (Whig) 1765 - 1766
  • Earl of Chatham (Whig) 1766 - 1767
  • Duke of Grafton (Whig) 1767 - 1770
  • Lord North (Tory) 1770 - 1782

Furnace Shafts

There were several furnace shafts in the upper Meden Valley, (Nottinghamshire) the first one being sunk at Fackley in 1753 by Peter Webster and Humphry Goodwin sunk to the Top Hard seam at 54 yards (50m). (One old shaft excavated at the Old Skegby Wharf pit in the mid 1970s at Stanton Hill, revealed soot to be about 2 inches thick on the sides and top of the shaft.  I was present along with Dr Alan Griffin (Curator of Lound Hall Museum) and Gordon Ison (Senior Surveyor) whilst the shaft was examined by members of the North Nottinghamshire Area Tunnelling Team). The surface level of the land is approximately 485 feet (148m) above sea level or Ordnance Datum (OD). 

A roadway was driven in a SSW direction from this shaft and would later intersect Tomlinsons level driven in 1657 from another older mine. (This roadway would be the one referred to as the water gate, in the Molyneux disaster, see 1869.)

Firing The Gas

Around this time a less dangerous system of firing the gas (concentration of methane or firedamp) was adopted in Leicestershire.  Instead of sending in a man dressed in water-soaked rags who would crawl along the floor and explode the gas by holding a lighted candle on the end of a long pole, a hook was fixed in the roof where the methane gas was concentrated and a wire was passed through it. The wire was run on posts near the roof of the working and both ends of the wire was taken to a ‘safe place’ where a lighted candle was fastened to the wire and drawn into the gaseous atmosphere by pulling on the wire at one side and letting out the wire on the other until the candle ignited or exploded any gas found. This was still a dangerous operation.

Secret Combinations

There were secret combinations of mineworkers in the Ilkeston district. These were outlawed.  One way round the system was for the combination to be in the guise of a Field Club or Friendly Society.  Colliers at Simon Field colliery in the Parish of Smalley established one of the earliest Field Clubs in Derbyshire.

Landowners at the time were

  • Lowes (Denby)
  • Cokes (Brookhill)
  • Hurts (Alderwasley)
  • Morewoods (Alfreton)
  • Miller Mundys (Shipley). 

Entrepreneurs with little capital were

  • Arkwrights
  • Strutts
  • Walter Mather (Kirkby-in-Ashfield)
  • Joseph Butler (Killamarsh)
  • Turners (Swanwick)
  • Fletchers (Horsely)
  • Smiths (Chesterfield)
  • James Oakes (Riddings)
  • Barrows (Staveley)
  • George Stephenson (via railways) joined by bankers Crompton, Evans and Wright.


A ‘Viewer’ was originally a representative of a large Royalty owner, King or Bishop etc.  The term ‘Banksman’ used in addition, was an official at a small mine, say of 12 men, and supervised all work done below and above ground.  He also hired workers, purchased the materials required, kept the accounts of income and expenditure and probably arranged the sale of the coal.  Viewer became a mine official rather than a Royalty owner. There seemed to be no clear distinction between Viewer, Overman or Farming Overman at the deeper pits and Under Overman, Underman or Overman. Around 1780 at the larger pits the Deputy ran the pit and the Senior Overman his superior, reported to the Viewer and at times appeared to be the Manager, Surveyor and Engineer of the colliery.

Fatal Accident 1751

Nuthall, William Goulder killed in a coal pit, buried 25th Oct 1751.

Gregorian Calendar

In September 1752 there was hue and cry throughout the land as 11 days were removed from the English or Julian calendar to harmonize with the Gregorian calendar of the Continent.

Gabriel Holland's Pits

In the year 1752 Gabriel Holland opened a pit at Swannington to work the Stone Smut and Nether seams. John Slater was the Ground Bailiff. There were 3 shafts, one being elliptical and bricked. New engines were installed. There was a stable underground for 40 horses. Waggon ways were also constructed underground. There was a wooden pit frame, pulleys and gin wheel.

Holland’s pits consisted of an Engine pit, Common pit, Breach pit, Sinking or Face pit, Old pit, an Old Sleck pit and a New Sleck pit. All 5 pits extending in a line southwest of Swannington village and to the south of Limby Hall. By 1759 he had 2 pits at work and in 1760 there was the Engine pit, Common pit, Breach pit, Face or sinking pit, Old pit plus 2 Sleck pits.

William Burslem (d 1781) was working pits at Coleorton Moor and Willis Bailey of Coleorton was later a coal owner and an eminent mining surveyor.


Fackley Engine pit at Teversal was sunk and a Furnace pit had opened in the same year.


Matthew Hill was listed as a coal miner at Tibshelf in 1753 showing that mining was done in the vicinity.

Fatal Accident

1753: Trowell, Isaac Harris killed in stone pit (ironstone), buried 19th Oct 1753.


Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles 1st Duke of Newcastle (Conservative) 1754-1756.
William Cavendish Duke of Devonshire 1756-1757.

It will be noticed that several collieries would be named after them. They were landowners of great tracts of the country

Prime Minister again was 1st Duke of Newcastle 1757-1762.


There was a new pit opened at Swanwick in 1757. The mine had been leased to Anthony Tissington in 1750 for a period of 24½ years from that date.

Turnpikes and Tollgates

One of the first local Turnpike systems was set up in 1758 - 1759 and was to last for around 120 yearsTollgates were set up on the NottinghamSelstonNewhaven road. The idea was to charge for the transportation of goods over the roads to pay for their construction and repair. Prior to this the roads were almost non-existent, being only footpaths with ruts either side.  In 1759 a Turnpike road from Alfreton to Nottingham was opened.

Coal Transported By Horse And Cart

Coal began to be transported from the pits in wagons of up to two tons in weight pulled by teams of horses.  Previously coal was only transported to other districts by teams of packhorses carrying around two cwts (hundredweights) or 224 lb each. (Note there are 2,240 lbs or 20 cwts to 1 ton).