MINES IN THE TODMORDEN & WALSDEN AREA
not intended to be a history of mining, which is a far too large
and complicated subject to be tackled in a single article. It is
just an attempt to show what effect the mines in the Todmorden area
had on the people, and how the mines came to be. Conditions would
have been the same country wide for miners at this period, so I
have taken the liberty of generalising some of the story.
apologies to all miners for any mistakes in the writing of this
miners about 1910
mining in the area didn't start until the early 1800's although
evidence of coal and minerals was known before this. There
was no great demand for coal until the advent of steam to
power the mills. Before this they had been powered by water,
which was in plentiful supply in this area.
the mines were drift mines. This was a method of obtaining
coal not far underground whereby tunnels were driven into
the hillsides at an angle to reach the seams of coal. The
coal would be visible on the side of the hill, showing where
to start the shaft, and as the shafts progressed further into
the seam, the mines would either be propped or else abandoned
when they became too dangerous to work.
roads would be lined with timber to allow the coal to be dragged
out on carts to the surface and candles or carbide lamps would be
used for lighting.
the growth of the mills, brick was needed to build the new factories
and some of the brick works had their own mine on the same site
as the works, so the raw materials they needed was on hand. One
example is the Clough Head mine at Sharneyford, owned by Thomas
Temperley, which was also a brick works. There
is mention of it in 1869, but it was probably in existence many
years before this. In 1896 it employed 3 men underground and worked
coal and fireclay. The fireclay would be used to make bricks which
could withstand high temperatures and the coal possibly would be
used to provide the power to run the brick works.
Temperleys had three sites in the area of Bacup Road and the main
item they manufactured was sanitary pipes, the existence of clay
and coal together making ideal conditions for the making of ceramic
pipes, which were in great demand for the new sewers.
pipeworks at Saunder Clough,
the Bankwell Colliery was opened at Cornholme, supplying coal
for local needs. The coal was brought down from the pit by
a tramway. In 1899 a lower pit was opened at Bankwell Corner
just off Burnley Road. The first week's wage bill was £3.6s.6d.
which seems to indicate that there weren't many workers at
that time. Coal would be available to buy direct from the
depot and take it home straight from there by whatever means
the householders could manage. The pit closed in 1921.
October 16th 1947, the prompt action of the local services and the
people of the area who rallied round in support averted a potential
pit at Rattan Clough, Cornholme, was an open cast one, and during
its operation, tons of peat and soil had been removed and left on
the hillside. The weather had been very wet at the time of the incident
and the heavy rain caused the resulting rush of water to suddenly
shift these tons of residue, and they burst out, pouring down the
Clough onto the valley below in the form of a moving mass of mud.
see a huge black wall of mud, speeding relentlessly down the hillside,
gathering momentum as it went and threatening to engulf everything
in its path, must have been a terrifying sight.
Two cottages were directly in the path on the oncoming sea of liquid
mud and the residents were quickly warned and evacuated to safety.
now the mudslide had picked up more momentum and had grown into
a river some thirty feet wide and nine feet high. It crashed through
stonewalls as if they didn't exist and nothing could hold it back.
A lorry was pushed from the road into an opposite wall whilst other
vehicles had managed to stop in time and warn others of the danger
police took charge as the traffic was backed up and they diverted
drivers onto other ways around the disaster.
sea of black slime and slurry continued on its way, nothing was
able to withstand its mighty force. The Cornholme Methodist Sunday
Sunday School Football Club pitch was eventually covered in a lake
of black slime as the moving mud reached the valley quickley and
was in danger of engulfing the railway line.
had to be done quickly and a horde of bulldozers were brought in
and tried to plough a trench through the river to ease the flow.
Things looked grim as the first one stalled in mid stream, leaving
the driver surrounded by a sea of bubbling slime, with no way out.
way had to be found to stem the flow and it was decided to bridge
it, so mechanical diggers dug out an opening for the bulldozers.
They also dug cuts further up the hillside to alleviate some of
the force of the flow of mud.
now, only the low wall around the football pitch stood between the
sea of black mud and the railway line. The authorities worked on
through the night by specially erected floodlights and by morning
they had won the battle and the road was opened to traffic.
lives were lost and what could have been a very tragic incident
had been averted. In all nearly a million tons of slurry had shifted.
of the mines in the Todmorden and Walsden district were situated
in the Dulesgate (Bacup Road) area, Cornholme, Portsmouth, Cliviger
and Inchfield Road.
mines at Dulesgate still visible today
as previously stated, were drift mines and the coal would be taken
down to the valley to be used for the local mills and to provide
heating for the houses, which were springing up due to the influx
of people seeking work in the mills. Some
would be taken to the canal wharf and be taken elsewhere, wherever
there was a demand and a good price to be had for it.
and their owners mentioned in 1854 are:
Clough, Todmorden, John and Reuben Haigh
Grain, Todmorden, J. Dearden
Moor, J. Dearden
in 1869 are:
Head, Sharneyford owned by Thomas Temperley
Walsden owned by Reuben Haigh & Co
Grain, Dulesgate owned by John Dearden
Moor, Todmorden owned by John Dearden
1880 these mines were all still in existence although
Freeholds has disappeared and FOULCLOUGH appeared again. By 1896,
SAUNDERCLOUGH appears but Foul Clough is not listed.
Clough Head employed 3 underground
workers and mined manufacturing coal and fireclay and had the same
owners as before. The manager was John Temperley.
Clough at Dulesgate employed 5 underground workers and mined manufacturing
coal and fireclay. It was owned by Geo. Earnshaw & sons of Saunder
Clough, Dulesgate, Todmorden and the manager was Geo. Earnshaw.
SOUTH GRAIN at Dulesgate employed 12 underground workers and 2 on the
surface. It mined Household and Manufacturing coal. J.G. Dearden,
The Manor House, The Orchard, Rochdale was the owner and the manager
was Robert Kershaw.
Moor at Todmorden employed 36 underground and 4 surface workers
producing Household and Manufacturing coal. Also owned by J.G. Dearden
and the manager was Edmund Lord.
1908 only Clough Head, from the original list
of mines, is still in operation and Ramsden Wood mine has opened.
John Tetlow & sons Ltd. Devonshire St. North, Hyde Rd., Manchester
were the owners.
to open the Cloughfoot mine were considered and a report appears
in the Yorkshire Factory Times on the 1st January 1914:
of a Moorland Village - A new coal mine is at present being opened
at Cloughfoot, Todmorden, by Mr. James Howard, a Rochdale coal-owner.
Cloughfoot is a small village situated on the bleak moorland road
leading from Todmorden towards Lancashire, and up to a year ago
was the home to a small community of miners. Then,
a large colliery in the vicinity became - worked out - and was
closed, and the bulk of the miners left the district, their little
cottages falling into a dilapidated condition. Consequent on the
opening of the new mine, however, the former life of the village
community is being to some extent resuscitated. Skilled engineers
are busily engaged in tunneling and boring operations, and it
is confidently expected that in the near future regular work will
be found for between 60 and 100 miners.
to now no serious difficulties have presented themselves in the
task of constructing the main entrance to the mine, and a correspondent
is assured that there is "any amount of coal suitable for either
domestic or manufacturing purposes". What is known as the - forty
yard - seam, which boring operations have shown to extend for
nearly one mile under the barren moorland, has been located. This
alone, it is claimed, will find employment for the next half-century."
kindly submitted by John Alan Longbottom)
2004 the remains of the mine at South Grain are still
clearly visible from the Bacup Road, testament to the mining
activity once prevalent in this area.
Travis, the local historian, also mentions Demain pit, Dulesgate,
Dearden pit and the Kidnapper coal pit near South Grain. He also
remarks that South Grain or Tunnel end coal pit is near to the Clough
Head brickworks. Maybe South
Grain and Tunnel End are one and the same.
was common for children under the legal age of 10 to work underground
in the mine but the managers would turn a blind eye. It sometimes
made the difference between a meal and starvation for a family.
In 1851, a child of 6, Samuel Crowther of Lower Dyches, was employed
as a collier. This was at least nine years after the passing of
the Coal Mines Act in 1842, which forbade children under 10 and
women to work underground in the mines. It
was normal practice for children's ages to be falsified and nobody
asked any questions.
work would be as coal drawers, to drag and push the coal in the
heavy trucks to the surface. This job was taken over by the pit
ponies, but in this area horses were not the norm and only one pit
was known to use them. Women, who were also banned by law from working
underground in the mines, would often disguise themselves as men.
Circumstances sometimes dictated such a drastic act in those days.
banksman was a responsible job as it entailed being at the top of
the pit and ensuring that the men and coals etc. were landed safely.
The men would be paid more for this and it was a highly sought after
job. Some men were coal getters
and some were coal miners. Perhaps there is a difference in the
two, or maybe just different terminology for the same job.
carters would have plenty of work and would take some of the
coal mined in the Dulesgate area over to Bacup and they would
be kept busy hauling their goods over the high road, with
stops for refreshment for both themselves and the horses at
one of the inns that relied on their trade. The Bay Horse
on the right was one such place.
accidents occurred in these mines and fatalities were common. A
few, which have been recorded and appear in the local press or the
Annals of Todmorden, are:
Lord, a collier aged 28 years, who resided at Portsmouth near Todmorden,
died on Friday week from injuries received on the 6th inst. In the
Bankwell coal pit. The deceased was one of the workmen employed
there and on the morning of the 6th was going to his work with a
lighted candle in his hand when the liberated gas caught fire and
an explosion took place. The mine belongs to Messrs. Haigh, Green
and Co., and we are quite sure they would not permit such carelessness
Guardian Page 5
Man Shut Up in a Coal Mine – Cliviger New Drift
On Monday a portion of a coal mine belonging to the Cliviger Coal
Company, called the New Drift, fell in, and by this occurrence a
man named John Ingham, of Mereclough, who was working at the further
end of the pit, was compelled to remain a prisoner there till Wednesday
night. As soon as it happened, they began to clear away the debris,
and continued at this work 24 hours, when it became apparent they
would not be able to get to the poor fellow in that way, owing to
the quantity of water they had met with. They then began to pick
a road through the bed of coal, which was nine yards in thickness,
and after working very hard for 18 hours, the man was released.
He was very weak, but in a much better state then they expected
to find him. He had not eaten anything during the whole time; he
had an oatcake in his basket, and feeling very hungry he took it
out and tried to eat, but whenever he did so something rose up in
his throat and almost choked him. He is recovering nicely.
Barker, 20, coal miner at Foul Clough was found under a wagon in
the pit and died.
Harry Seymour, 23, collier, died from severe injuries by part of
the pit roof falling in at Dulesgate Colliery.
noon the dead body of John Barnes aged 52, of Owler Carr, Dulesgate,
was found in the pit of the Todmorden Moor Colliery (where he was
employed) with a stone weighing about 3cwt.on his head.
must have been many more that went unrecorded; normal happenings
in the life of a miner.
think the last words should go to John Travis, who recorded the
story of one of the many miners of Todmorden as follows:
was the son of Peggy Earnshaw of Holding Gate and Joseph Barker
of Swineshead. He was born before they eventually married and was
commonly known as John or Jack Peggy.
was a young man employed as a collier during the cotton panic (American
Civil War 1863-4), when there was not much coal required; most of
the factories being stopped for a long time. He was living in lodgings
at Cloughfoot, Dulesgate, with little work and wages. There was
scarcely any work going on, and he vividly remembered the hardship
of those days, which were indelibly stamped into both mind and body;
the chief part of his sustenance being what he termed "greylegs"
(oatmeal gruel or skilly) and hard bread or "snap and rattle" to
eat with them, and give a little body to them, the gruel not often
being sweetened with treacle to give a little savour. The family
with whom he lived were only poor folks but, after turning up all
the wages he earned to them, he very naturally thought that he deserved
better fare than that provided; the "greylegs", in which he could
see the husks or grain meal seeds (seedy billies), being made with
one tablespoonful of oatmeal, well beaten up in cold water and then
poured into a large quantity of water and boiled with salt for seasoning,
which when dished and sweetened as before stated, had to be eaten
with oat cake, and of those he had two meals a day for a long time,
one before going to the pit and another when he came out again-that
was all he had to have-who, during a long spell of bad trade got
no fat, grease or "sewl" of any sort; but one day when he came out
of the pit from work there was a nice little potatoes pie before
the fire, ready for eating and he became ravenous at the sight.
first of all who that was for, and was sharply told back again that
it was for David, the woman's husband. "Eah!" said he, "an' o'm
bewn ta hav som on it"
had been debarred so long from "nifies" that he neither would nor
could stand it any longer with that savoury smell in his nose, and
so he got a portion of the pie, being completely weary of "greylegs"
to get coals upon; and afterwards, from the day he had shown a little
rebellion against the order of things in that household, matters
mended, and he got better treatment from those people.
there came a change to better days, and work and wages gradually
improved again, in which he wrought on steadily at his trade as
a working collier; and doing the best he could to gain a little
education and so try to better his condition.
length there came a turn in the crooked lane, when on the retirement
of an old banksman at the Dearden Pits, he was favourably looked
upon as the successor, and upon being appealed to, the old banksman
recommended him for the post; he in every way eligible for the situation-
a position of trust- and John or Jack Peggy received the appointment,
which he held for about a period of thirty years with entire satisfaction
to his employers and some amount of credit to himself and the class
of men he has had to deal with; but he was one of them, and so as
likely to know their tempers and ways as well as anyone else and
died at the age of 70 years. "
is one of the small episodes in the life of a colliery village,
of which there are so many in this country. There is no romance
at all about it, but yet is written simply to show what privations
miners and others suffer by a dislocation of trade; and yet, how
many of those tales go unrecorded?
of the Cornholme miners, Temperley's Pipe Works, Bankwell Colliery
and the Bay Horse by
kind permission of Roger Birch
BACK TO TOP