Information and photographs submitted by subscribers are posted in good faith. If any copyright of anyone else's material is unintentionally breached, please email me

The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913




In January 1867 W Herring was elected Secretary of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Miners Association.  
The rival Union, referred to as Billy Browns had failed in 1866. As soon as men had joined that union the coal owners of the Swadlincote area closed the pits down, thereby locking the men out. The South Derbyshire miners held out the longest but by April 1868 the 14 month long strike was over. The strike pay had ceased, the union had collapsed and would not start again until 1871. The coal trade was in a very depressed state.


(Nottingham Guardian Newspaper 4th Jan 1867)

Timber in No1 Pinxton pit was discovered on fire.  Several union men have been discharged from the doubt set on fire deliberately...chose the time when the pit was empty longest.

When found the fire was raging furiously in four separate places. The haulage engine and the fires lighted were either side of the arch under which the engine is placed. The wood nearest the engine boiler was not burning when first seen...tho' ignited later. Hundreds of tons of roof fell in and the heat was so intense that the hard rock was red hot...for some time it was thought that the pit was destroyed, but at 9pm on Sunday night those working to put out the fire hoped they had conquered was extinguished on Wednesday.  The engine was o.k. and production was started on Tuesday morning.  A reward of £50 for the discovery of the guilty persons.

Further Sabotage

(Nottingham Guardian 19th Apr 1867)

There was a fire about a month ago at Hucknall Torkard pit. It was now extinguished...but much damage done...necessary to make a number of watercourses which were turned into the mine to suppress the fire.  The shafts were nearly 400 yards deep and water a few days ago was thought to extend 75 yards from the pit bottom.  400 to 500 men and boys were out of work. Pumping out the water continued.

Blackleg Labour

During this period the South Derbyshire Coal Owners had recruited ‘blackleg’ colliers from Staffordshire and had begun to produce coal again. At Staveley more men were sacked and strike breakers were enticed from various parts of the country even as far as Cornwall who expected to earn 6s (30p) to 10s (50p) per day but some soon packed up and left disillusioned as they found that they could only earn around 30s (£1.50) in 3 weeks. The trouble makers and active union men were ‘blacklisted’ and were unable to find work as there was no work in any other trade. Unless the men had a certificate of ‘clearance’ from their previous employer the Mine Owners in North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire would not set them on.

First Mechanical Fan

High Park (Barber, Walker and Co) became the first pit in Nottinghamshire to have a mechanical fan.   Butterley Co merged Waingroves and Marehay pits as a means of creating a more efficient unit.

Fatal Accidents in 1867

  • Brampton, Joseph Dawson (12), explosion of firedamp 7 Sep 1867
  • Clay Cross Stanley Abner (44) Carpenter, fell off scaffold on surface 24 Apr 1867
  • Clay Cross, John Barnes (14), run over by tubs 24 Aug 1867
  • Eastwood, Thomas Marriott (aged..?) 16 Aug 1867
  • Gresley Wood fatal accident c10 Dec 1867
  • Heanor, Henry Mitchell (14) 10 Feb 1867
  • Hill Top, Elijah Ball (15), fall of roof 22 Oct 1867
  • Langley colliery, a boiler burst on the surface 11 Nov 1867 and 3 men were killed, Charles Hopewell (24), Charles Farnsworth (40) and Thomas Rawson (66)
  • Locoford, Rowland (..?) 20 Mar 1867
  • Marehay, John Breedon (..?) 11 Feb 1867
  • Marehay, John Oakley (24), fall of roof 20 Jul 1867
  • Mexbro colliery, George Bradley (aged 16) was killed in a fall 3 Jul 1867
  • Molyneux colliery, Thomas Marriott, (aged 12) was killed by a fall on 13 Aug 1867
  • Moira, Thomas Heron (17), explosion of powder 4 Nov 1867
  • Monkwood, John Johnson (13) 12 Jun 1867
  • Morton, boy (14), fall of roof 15 Oct 1867
  • Nailstone, James Ridgeway (25), fall of roof 18 Dec 1867
  • New Langley 3 killed? c 20 Nov 1867
  • Nuttall, John Kendrick (43) fell down shaft 16 Aug 1867
  • Plumptre there was an explosion 8 or 20 Jun 1867, and 3 men were killed, Robert Bircumshaw (..?), James Gardner (..?) and John Smith (..?)
  • Portland colliery, Henry Mitchell (aged 14) was killed 9 Feb 1867
  • No7 furnace pit, John Edwards was the Under-official
  • Pye Hill, Henry Thompson (..?) 17 Jul 1867
  • Ripley, Joseph Riley (33) 20 Jul 1867
  • Shirland, Thomas Watson (45), fall of roof 11 Oct 1867
  • Shuttlewood, Paul Mellows (16) 7 Apr 1867
  • Springwell, Frank Barber (15), crushed by wagons on surface 24 Aug 1867
  • Springwell or Speighthill, Robert Holmes (..), crushed by tubs 14 Sep 1867
  • Springwell, John Morgan (21), fall of roof 17 Sep 1867
  • Stanton (Newhall) ? fatal accident c20 Oct 1867
  • Stanton (Newhall) ? fatal c 28 Oct 1867
  • Swadlincote (Hall and Boardman) fatal accident c15 Oct 1867
  • Swanwick, Samuel Sutton (26), coal fell down shaft and struck him 2 Aug 1867
  • Tapton, George Channel (27), fall of roof on 27 Nov 1866, died 15 Oct 1867
  • Waingroves, William Bailey (aged ..?) was killed ? Feb 1867
  • Waleswood, Edward William Maiden (..?) 6 Apr 1867
  • Watnall, Sam Hallam (aged..?) - Sep 1867
  • Watnall, Noah Burrows (15) killed 20 Dec 1867
  • Whiteley, William Sparrow (aged ..?) 12 Feb 1867
  • Whitemoor, Arthur Mite (15) 20 Oct 1867.
  • At Stanton (Nadin’s) John Insley was injured? 1 Jan 1867.
  • At Bailey Brook 2 men were hurt 1 Mar 1867.
    Again most likely the ones whose ages are not known were young boys.

First Coal Cutter

George Senior’s Whitebank pit at Hasland, Chesterfield had the first coal cutter in Derbyshire.  It was made by Gillott and Copley and operated by compressed air and was nicknamed the iron man’.

Safety Hooks

John King invented the Kings Patent in
October 1867 at Pinxton


The cage is held safely in the headgear by this device should an over-wind occur, allowing the winding rope to continue being wound by the engine.  King’s workshop at Pinxton was turned into a museum in the 1980s, set up and run by Frank Smith a local Electrical Engineer. 

During 1868 another similar device, the Ormerod safety-detaching hook was invented in Lancashire.  Both types would become popular and one or the other would eventually be used at almost every mine in the country.

Winding Times

In 1866-1867 winding times were noted at the following pits: - 

  • Bennerley 10 hours
  • Cinderhill 10 hours
  • Digby 9 hours
  • Gilt Brook 9 hours
  • Glass Yard pit 8 hours
  • Hucknall 12 hours
  • Kimberley 10 hours
  • Newcastle 10 hours
  • Plumptre 9½ hours
  • High Park, Shireoaks and Watnall 11 hours 20 minutes. 
As can be seen the hours of work varied greatly.  At Alfreton the getting price was 2s 6d (12½p) a ton and the pithead price was 8s 4d (41⅔p). At the pits in that area it was expected that the men fill out up to 28 cwts to equal a ton (20 cwts in a ton). Young boys on door and ganging ponies were expected to work longer hours than the colliers.


left 2


Go 1 Page 2