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Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire
and Leicestershire


Fatal Accidents

1758: Nuthall, John Kirk killed in a coal pit, buried 20/10/1758.


George III succeeded to the throne in 1760 and would reign for 60 years until 1820.

Introduction of Very Young Children into Mines

1760 saw the introduction of children as young as 5, 6 or 7 years of age into the mines as door trappers, as the ventilation of the pits began to be controlled by diverting fresh air to the coal faces and foul air containing gases etc back to the shaft.

Unfortunately these young boys would spend most of their time in the dark as their only means of light was usually a candle, and these would burn away or go out frequently.

Sometimes the doors were counter weighted assisting the young lads to open the doors when they heard tubs coming. They were frequently beaten if they fell asleep and their hours at work were long.  Of course the longer a door was open the longer the ventilation circuit was disrupted, more than likely allowing the foul air or gases to build up. There was a revival of mining in Swadlincote.

Seam On Fire At the Basset Edge

During 1760, there was burning all along the basset edge of the Main seam at Oakthorpe Hill near Ashby and for quite some time all efforts to extinguish it were denied.

Chatsworth Park

At Chatsworth Park in Derbyshire the Baslow seam outcrops at the Emperor Lake and coal from this seam was mined for use at Chatsworth House. More than likely this was the seam that coal was obtained from at the time of building by Bess of Hardwick in 1500s.

From an account book of 1760:-
Cole pit on top of Chatsworth Park. Sunk a pit on top of Chatsworth House to try for cole the upper bed is 11” (0.3m) thick then about 9 or 10” (0.25m) of dirt. The under cole ¾ yard thick and very good – at this pit the cole lies about 14 yards deep.
To John Laycock sinking 3 pits ... £7.4.0. (£7.20p) 
To James Swindel and partners sinking a pit 11 yards (10m) deep in ye Park ... £2.0.0. 
Memo the above pit ... when they came thro’ the quarry the water was so strong they could not go down any more, it is imagined the Cole lies 25 yards under the quarry.

This account of the operations was documented by the 4th Duke of Devonshire.

Plan By Thomas Peat

A plan of Swannington prepared by Thomas Peat of Nottingham in 1760 shows several fire engines and waterwheels for pumping.  Holland’s pits were flooded.

Shuttlewood Common

To the north of Bolsover town at Shuttlewood Common, Stevensons Level with at least 16 shafts was shown on a plan of 1760.  The Clown coal was up to 50 yards (46m) deep.  Another Level in the Shuttlewood bed of coal with 12 shafts along its length crosses it, date unknown.  Adits are shown with the wording Level mouth.  One old shaft at 8 feet (2.4m) diameter was found nearby in September 1975.


The Industrial Revolution

The start of the Industrial Revolution began in 1761 and coal prices dropped from 7d (3p) to 3½d (1½p) a cwt or from 12s (60p) to 6s (30p) a ton. Several more pits were sunk to the Top Hard seam in the upper Meden Valley area by Dodsley as trade improved. Possibly Nibland pit (known locally as Nibble and Clink) was sunk at this time…. a Hard Coal pit was sunk in 1760!

Old Hucknall

The Old Hucknall (under Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire) pit was sunk in 1761 opposite the Miners’ Arms pub, to work Top Hard and Dunsil.  There were other pits in the immediate vicinity referred to as Dirty Hucknal also. The Hucknall Colliery Co and the Mellers family sank several of the pits in the area. 


The Blackwell sough or drain was finished up to and into the Township of Hucknall (Huthwaite), and the New Inn Level sough started in 1666 was being continued through the upper Meden Valley in 1761, and was financed now by the Duke of Newcastle and Duke of Devonshire


Due to major problems with finance etc at Swannington colliery the pit was closed temporarily and pumping discontinued allowing the workings to flood so the pit was then closed permanently, throwing the miners out of work and creating poverty. 

The First Canal

The Duke of Bridgewater organised the first canal that was built on the outskirts of Manchester

When this new form of transport reached the local coalfield later (1779), it would have a terrific influence, as the only means of transporting coal was by packhorse or cart and horse.  Iron rails would then be laid and trams hauled by teams of horses would transport the coal in trucks to the canal side to be loaded into barges by a derrick.




It was noted that Thomas Barker, a collier, came to work at Tibshelf from Cheadle in Staffordshire in 1762, possibly in search of work.  Joseph Barnes was a coal miner at Tibshelf in 1764.  Michael Widdop (or Weedop) was listed as a collier at Tibshelf in 1770.


A further Hard Coal pit was sunk by Dodsley in the upper Meden Valley within 2 miles of Tibshelf.


Earl of Bute (Tory) 1762-1763 and George Grenville (Whig) 1763-1765

A Tory Government was in power for about 12 months in 1762-1763, after which a new Whig Government took over again until 1770. There was a constant struggle between King George III and the Party.

Burdett's Plan

PP Burdett carried out a survey of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire from 1763 to 1767 and published a plan, updated in 17912 pits were noted working at Barlow Common; 3 pits at Dunston southeast of the Hall; Woodhouse to West of Dronfield and North of Holmesfield; 2 pits at Ferneylee in North West Derbyshire ¾ mile northwest of the village; 3 pits at Gosling, 2 mile post west from Buxton on way to Manchester;

4 pits at Newton ¾ mile east of village; Tibshelf; West of Morton; Fletcher’s 3 pits (1762-1767) at Pinxton west of Brook Hill Hall and south at Carter Lane; 2 pits at Shipley ½ mile east of Hall; 3 pits at Awsworth ¾ mile southwest near to River Erewash; 3 pits at Ilkeston ¼ mile east of town; 1 pit at Ilkeston 1 mile west of town, 1 pit North of Smithy Houses towards Marehay; and in South Derbyshire, 5 pits at Oakthorpe east of town and northwest of Measham, including 1 Fire Engine; Hallfield Newhall, Donkil and Pestle to West of Coton.

Stevensons Level was driven straight towards Oxcroft at about 50 yards (45m) deep from Palterton in 1760.


John Barnes of Barlow, son of a tenant farmer, obtained from the Trustees of the Earl of Oxford, the lease of a small colliery at Barlow, in the Parish of Staveley in 1763 and Barnes paid George Bramwell and Co 2s 1d (10½p) a load to ‘get, draw and sale coals’.  The Grassmoor Company developed from these humble beginnings. 

Nuthall Waggonway

A waggonway was built between Nuthall and Nottingham in the years 1763-1764 for the delivery of coal to the town. 

Turnpikes And Toll Gates

On Peter Perez Burdetts map of 1761-1763 one pit was shown to the south of the Macclesfield to Buxton turnpike and 3 pits to the north of it.  Around 130 pits would be sunk in that area eventually.

Two more turnpikes were introduced in the local area in the same period, the first between DerbyEastwoodAnnesleyMansfield, toll gates being located at Derby and Kilburn and the second from AlfretonHuthwaiteSutton-in-Ashfield.  Toll gates on this road were located at Pinxton, Sutton Huthwaite Road/Alfreton Road junction.  Both lasted around 112 years. Another one was introduced in 1765 from KelstedgeSkegbyMansfield that was to last about 115 years

Toll bars or gates were to be found at Tibshelf (Doe Hill and White Hart), Fackley, Skegby and Priestsic / Stoneyford Road junction in Sutton-in-Ashfield and at Chesterfield Road midway between Pleasley and Mansfield.

Other tollgates were known at Stretton, Wingfield Park, Clay Cross, Codnor Gate, Gleadless, Mosborough, North of Dronfield, East of Cutthorpe, West of Barlow, East of Renishaw Hall, Norbridge, Gander Lane Killamarsh, West of Killamarsh, North of Todwick, South Anston, South East of Barlborough, Brampton, Walton, Williamthorpe, Woolley Moor, South of Stretton, Matlock, Wensley, Grange Mill, in Hulland, Cromford Bridge, West of Turnditch, 2 North and one South of Wirksworth, North of Whatstandwell, Buckstand Bottom, Little Eaton, East of Markeaton Hall, Little Chester, East and South of Derby, North, South East and East of Alfreton, South Normanton Common, Pye Bridge, South and East of Ripley, West of Sandiacre, Cinderhill, Wollaton, North, South West and North West of Nottingham.   

Many others were to be found throughout the country and every road leading to a major town or village had a toll bar or gate, and all goods had to be paid for to pass over that certain length of road.  Of course with the increase in coal production and the new markets, coal began to be transported in heavy waggons and the price had to be increased to pay for the toll charges.  The system began by charging so much for the width between the wheels of the waggon.  This led to the design of the waggons having wheels that tapered inwards, thereby allowing a large cart to transport several tons of coal, but the price paid was for a narrow wheel based cart.

Joseph Wilkes linked Measham to Burton on Trent by a Turnpike road through Overseal and Castle Gresley in 1763, whereas the Burton to Ashby Turnpike was opened 10 years before in 1753. Other Turnpikes were Ashby to Castle Donington, Ashby to Loughborough, Ashby to Leicester and Hinkley to Melbourne Common.


At Chatsworth £234.19s.4½d (£234.97p) was spent on ‘trying for cole’ at the top of the Park in 1763-1764. This was a terrific amount of money at that time. Coal had been mined in the area since the building of the House in the 1500s. Maybe that coal had been worked out to the limit known at the time and it was necessary to search for more.

Settlement Certificate

A ‘settlement certificate’ was given to Joseph Barnes, coal miner of Tibshelf, allowing him to move.  In other words he had to have permission from the person employing him!  He had more than likely signed a bond.

South Derbyshire

At Lount (Earl Ferrers) and Staunton Harold there were 3 pits in 1764. There was a New pit in Gin Close but only worked a few months in 1763 but re-opened in Aug 1764 , and Old pit (worked by Bird until Nov 1763) and Parsboroughs pit and 3 Slack pits worked by Bird, Shaw and Parsborough. The Mine Bailiff was William Parker who was paid 10s (50p) a week. The pits were replaced by Cutlers pit, Heading pit, Potters pit in Morley’s Copse and Blundings and Gigers pitts at Heath End. A small pit on Gresley Common close to the Green was leased by Richard Sale at £30 per annum.

Robert Staley was the Bailiff of Newhall colliery in 1766.

The South Derbyshire Coalfield at Swadlincote, being a part of the Leicestershire Coalfield geologically was developed later. 


Charles Watson-Wentworth 2nd Marquess of Rockingham Prime Minister (Whig) 1765-1766.


Prime Minister William Pitt ‘The Elder’ 1st Earl of Chatham (Whig) 1766-1768.


Benjamin Outram And Partners

In 1765 Benjamin Outram and partners paid three companies of colliers in the Butterley area £50 16s 0d (£50.80) in wages for the period 21st March to 3rd April. £1 equivalent in 2010 had now dropped to app £64.


A plan of the Kimberley area dated 1765 shows pits at Kimberley, on Chalk Hill/Lawn Mill Road, 2 shafts at Alma Hill, one shaft, South East of the town towards Awsworth and another South, towards Strelley.

Gob Fire Closes Pit

There was a ‘gob fire’ at the Nuttall collieries that caused the abandonment of the mine on 25th May 1767.  The First coal pitt was 132 yards deep (121m), the Engine pitt 134 yards (122m) and a new pitt, Pay for All at 29 fathoms or 58 yards (53m) deep to the northwest. ‘Burdells’ pit later referred to as Burdetts pitt and ‘Harreface’ pit 130 yards (119m) deep referred to later as Harriss lay to the south.  ‘Lost coal at present’, was stated on the plan, and it was noted that at Cloughs pit, another statement read ‘not much worked here’.

Fatal Accident 1767

Daniel Rowley (?) killed 7 Mar 1767 at Fackley Lane End pit, near Teversal (Webster and Goodwin). Working was being carried out at 3 shafts at that time.


Another Fackley Hard Coal pit (Webster and Goodwin) was sunk in 1769Fackley Engine pit had closed in 1767 after being open 14 years.

Hurt acquired the Manor of Heage for around £16,000 in 1767 and it included the Morley Park coal and ironstone mines. It was a colossal sum of money at that time.

John Barnes

The price of a load of coal at John Barnes’s pit at Barlow was 2s 2d (10¾p) in 1767. He had leased the existing colliery from Nov 1763 for 21 years at an annual rent of £105. He provided pit props and candles and paid the workers who were maintaining the roads and also paid for pumping water.  These were obviously new perquisites.  Was it a kindness, or just a type of blackmail to attract new workmen or to keep his workers from leaving to work at other nearby pits where the getting rate could have been a penny or so more? The shaft at app 50 yards (45.5m) deep had been sunk by contractors at 10s 6d (52½p) per yard (0.91m) plus expenses, such as 1s 6d (7½p) for gunpowder and 4 guineas (£4.20) for a blacksmith to sharpen and repair boring rods. Further shafts were sunk during the period 1766-1786 at prices varying from 9s 0d (45p) to 12s 0d (60p) per yard (0.91m). The output was obtained by using the new Staffordshire system of longwall against the pillar and stall methods normally employed where pillars were robbed on retreat.

Donkey Minders

Throughout the region more asses or donkeys and mules began to be introduced into the pits generally as a means of transporting coal by pulling vehicles.  Young boys were introduced as donkey minders.


The Whig Party under Prime Minister Augustus Henry Fitzroy 3rd Duke of Grafton 1768-1770 collapsed and from 1770-1782 there was a Tory Administration in Parliament with Lord Frederick North as Prime Minister 1770-1782.


Portland Fields

In 1770 it is noted that Butterley Co had a blast furnace near Pinxton in Portland Fields, ironstone being found nearby. This would be close to the site of the later Portland pits sunk in 1820.

Trent And Mersey Canal

The Trent and Mersey Canal along the Trent Valley opened in 1770. This would lead to a further boost of output as new markets would be reached by transporting coal by barge.

£1 in 1770 was equated to £65 in 2010.