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Collieries in the Manchester coalfields

Author: Hayes

Winning of coal in the Manchester coalfields started perhaps as early as the 13th century, but prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was a very small-scale industry. Difficult transport of coal to then existing markets was one cause; the limited depth of working (due to natural drainage problems) was another.

Things began to change dramatically in the mid-18th century, with the construction of the Bridgewater canal. Transport to Manchester and the Mersey became cheap. The canal went underground to directly explore a large number of coal seams. In direct consequence of these developments, many new pits of ever-increasing depth were sunk. By the mid-19th century, most of the earliest pits had closed (although some of the larger ones lasted into the 1880s).

The quick growth of the coal industry lasted until the depression of the 1870s. During this period a great increase in output was made possible by technical developments in winding engines, winning techniques and bulk handling of coal.

Gibfield Colliery, surface buildings and headgear of Arley Pit

Gibfield Colliery, surface buildings and headgear of Arley Pit

From the 1890s, the industry started to pick up again and great redevelopment and modernization took place. This stage lasted until about 1920, when the collieries in the eastern part of the Manchester coalfields became gradually exhausted and were being closed. In the western part of the coalfield, however, coal mining was continued far longer, into the 1960s.

Hayes describes in extensive detail the growth and decline of coal mining in this once so important region. The book is split into the following sections:

  • The geography and geology of the South East Lancashire coal-measures
  • The old collieries (started in the period 1750-1830)
  • The modern collieries (started from 1830)
  • Available transport (canals, tramways and railways, both main lines and (private) colliery railway systems and their motive power)

The book offers a detailed index to all collieries mentioned and lists of details of steam engines and locomotives in operation at the various collieries.


eerste uitgave / first published type medium dim. omvang / extent binding prijs / price
1990 nieuw / new boek / book A5 xii+211 pp - 42 illus paperback € 30,00