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soggy dirt colliery, april 2018

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Wasnt sure which section to put this so i apologise if its in the wrong un.

 We set off for a pleasant afternoons mooch around a nearby country park established on the site of a colliery that had closed nearly 90 years ago. I knew there was a couple of features remaining worth a look at but it turned out to be a much more interesting place than i could ever have expected.
Although almost everything was demolished in the years shortly after 1930, various footings, engine mounts ,adits and tunnels litter the area. The most impressive feature was a 30ft deep wheelpit that had been excavated in the mid nineties. A spiral staircase led down to the bottom but an 8ft fence completely enclosed the pit and the gate was securely locked. However, it didnt take much working out how to scale the fence and scale it i did. 
This colliery turns out to be something quite special. Not only was it the first deep pit in the valley it was also one of the first in the country. Initially a failure due to vast amounts of water entering the level ,two engineers of great ingenuity  would come up with a unique and successful method of dewatering the mine. It was almost 180 years later before the mine closed after most of the coal was removed. Efforts to extend the levels failed and because of a geological fault vast amounts of water from the nearby river flooded the lower levels and the mine was no longer economic.
early shafts were sunk here in the 1740s and were around 50 ft deep.With the help of mining engineer Matthew Fletcher  a new shaft was sunk 262ft deep and later deepened to 328 ft. After problems with water the owner John Heathcote closed the mine in 1750. It came to the attention of a James Brindley who set out to solve the water problem, which he did. The complexity and inventiveness of his system makes a description far to long for this report but it involved building a weir to raise the river level and then digging a tunnel under the river, taking the water to a giant waterwheel which then pumped water up from the mine where it then travelled down another tunnel back to the river. The water system is actually much more involved with various culverts and chanels diverting water where it was needed. There was even an offshoot of the canal which allowed special boats to approach the mine shaft and be loaded with minimal effort. 
During the years after closure the wheelpit was completely filled in and many of the culverts became silted up. The coal board landscaped the site and planted many trees and even records mysteriously got destroyed. In the nineties volunteers with the help of council finances excavated the wheelpit and located the adit entrances. These were painstakingly desilted although not all of the passageways were explored at that time. Educational tours took place with school parties being shown around until a newspaper report claimed that it was far too dangerous  and not suitable for this type of thing. The Coal Authority promptly turned up and laid claim to all the tunnels and put sturdy gates across all of them. After all of the work done, indecision, further neglect and lack of investment have allowed some of the work to become undone with the tunnels once again becoming silted up and access denied to everyone.
There are no info boards around the site but we still enjoyed working out what the various remains were and there really is quite a bit to see if you know where to look.

Remains of the fan house used to ventilate the mine
26745267837_0d3552dc3d_z.jpgDSCF7474 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

the giant hub from one of the fans, these were driven by a steam engine
26745275497_3e705e016c_z.jpgDSCF7472 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

The first shaft, known as the Gal shaft, was a "gin" shaft which employed a horse to wind a basket up and down the shaft until the arrival of steam
41573154392_75337cb654_z.jpgDSCF7499 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

Looking 30ft down into the wheelpit. Below the water lies the turbine that replaced the 22ft waterwheel.
39805483980_50003ed633_z.jpgDSCF7509 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

You can see the groove worn into the pit wall by the wheel during its 110 year lifespan
39805486470_ba093c9622_z.jpgDSCF7502 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

The immense cast iron beams were an addition for the turbine. The spiral staircase is strictly NO ACCESS....Oh Really
41573150222_ab9f19dbaa_z.jpgDSCF7500 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

So down the staircase i go. The metal sheet at the back is a header tank that dropped water through a shoot into the turbine. The recess behind has an arch  where water was originally delivered to the water wheel
41573399902_5d661fbd75_z.jpgDSCF7516 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

This second arch is heavily silted, where it leads im not sure.
40721827805_9be5aa935e_z.jpgFHD0037 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

The staircase dissapears into the milky water. The drainage holes into the tail race have silted up again causing the wheelpit to gradually flood
41573414602_d396c5b0fe_z.jpgDSCF7510 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

Known as the upcast shaft and once contained pipes for water pumping ,it is now capped
40721941165_b2ac8c66d3_z.jpgDSCF7523 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

Standing in what was once the canal, this loading basin terminates at the gated tunnel where coal was brought out to be loaded. It also allowed water in and leads to the shaft and the header tank in the wheel pit
41613104841_a8fb7d13c7_z.jpgDSCF7490 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

The tunnel known as the penstock tunnel is thought to have been widened to allow boats to enter all the way to the shaft and some early documents mention a100yrd boat level within the mine although none of this has been proven
39805239750_414d4b1cda_z.jpgDSCF7483 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

In the basin wall is this overflow (i think). Inside the water drops down a shaft back to the tailrace
41613112231_34417c2eb4_z.jpgDSCF7489 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

27744219038_99dcfed037_z.jpgDSCF7487 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

The railway engine shed with inspection pit
39805427920_947a8571ea_z.jpgDSCF7533 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

A dry dock were the fleet of 200 boats were maintained
40721920495_6fd2387743_z.jpgDSCF7538 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

Away from the mine in the river bank is this adit, complete with narrow gauge rails
40721913735_a048cb8e86_z.jpgDSCF7545 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

40721910355_35ac3974b8_z.jpgDSCF7551 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

Over the river we spot some of the adits reclaimed and gated by the coal board. This one appears to just have a bolt instead of a padlock..mmmmm
27744344218_f70eee5709_z.jpgDSCF7572 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

This much larger adit is somewhat securer
27744342758_16edea299a_z.jpgDSCF7574 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

This solitary juvenile squirrel wasn't phased by our presence
40721914735_1daa53bfaf_z.jpgDSCF7543 by Tazz & Moomoo, on Flickr

A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon
thanks fer lookin

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Enjoyed that sir

Excellent research as always 

Thanks for posting. 

  • Thanks 1

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