Shropshire History

Forest of Wyre

Coalfield

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Mining

 

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Coalfield

Coalbrookdale

Coalfield

Forest of Wyre

Coalfield

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N Shropshire

Coalfield

N Shropshire Orefield

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Coalfield

S Shropshire

Orefield

 

 

The Wyre Forest Coalfield is 18 miles long and up to 6 miles wide, having been mined from surface outcrops to depths of up to 900ft.  The deposits start around Bridgnorth-Harpswood in the north and spread down to Abberley in the south, where faulting and changes in rock structure cut off the workable seams. Near to the surface, there are 3 seams which produced a sulphurous coal in the Brock Hall, Hard Mine and Main Sulphur Seams, the latter producing a fair household coal.  Deeper still are found 4 other seams - Broach, Half Yard, Four Foot and Two Foot Seams, together with ironstone and fireclay. 

 

Mining probably started in the Middle Ages with coal being dug from surface outcrops, short levels or stream beds where coal deposits were exposed.  They were mostly worked by farmers, who grew crops in summer and mined coal in winter when there was little farm work to do.  Most of it would have been for their personal consumption but they would have been able to sell some locally to offset costs.  By 1594, however, a proper colliery was being worked at Chetton on behalf of Thomas Hord of Bridgnorth and in 1613, Francis Lacon of Kinlet let his mines to John Slaney of London and Sir Percival Willoughby of Woollaton.  These partners intended to develop the collieries and introduce a railway but quarrelled over the lease and parted. The majority of collieries at this time were worked from shallow shafts, not more than 100ft deep, from which men and coal were wound by hand windlass, or occasionally a horse gin.  Sometimes drift mines were worked, where tunnels were driven into the side of a hill to intersect the coal seam.  None of these enterprises would have employed more than a handful of men or produced more than 100 tons of coal per year.  They were working poor quality seams and much better coal was available in neighbouring coalfields which attracted more investment.

 

At the start of the 19th Century, demand for coal by local industry grew and a large estate at Billingsley was acquired by Sir William Pulteney.  He brought in the mining engineer George Johnson to develop the coal mines and, by 1796, there was a large coal works linked to a wharf on the River Severn by a 2½ mile horse drawn railway.  Unfortunately, the mines ran into financial difficulties and closed in 1801.  A long series of court cases followed, not helped by the disappearance of Johnson's chief partner who fled to France with all the books of the enterprise.  The mines were reopened in 1803 by a consortium of local businessmen who sold them to an ironmaster George Stokes in 1810.  The latter could not make them pay and they closed again when Stokes went bankrupt 2 years later. Although most workings were shallow, several deep exploratory shafts were sunk in the 19th Century including those at Compton and Shatterford, the latter being sunk eventually to 1,380ft.  Little coal was found but there was good quality clay which was mined for a brick and pottery works for several years.  The small scale of working changed with the construction of the Severn Valley Railway in 1862.  This provided a cheap method of transport to markets outside the area and the emphasis changed from personal consumption to external sale.  In the early 1880s, there were two mines on Chelmarsh Common and a two storey engine house stood here until it was demolished in 1985.  It is possible that these mines were connected with the grandiose plans at Billingsley Colliery but little is known about them. Eventually there was only Alveley Colliery working in the coalfield and this closed in 1969.

 

Alveley Colliery, Alveley (SO754842)

Coal

 

Baveney Wood Pit, Wall (SO6979)

Coal

 

Billingsley Colliery, Billingsley (SO717843)

Coal

 

Chelmarsh Colliery, Chelmarsh (SO717869)

Coal

In the early 1880s, this was one of two mines on Chelmarsh Common and a two storey engine house stood here until it was demolished in 1985. It is possible that these mines were connected with the grandiose plans at Billingsley Colliery but little is known about them.

 

SO719871

Winding engine house (C19)

SO71808697

Shaft (collapsed)

 

Chetton Pit, Harpswood (SO68579075)

Coal

 

SO68579075

Shafts (filled)

SO68628955

Shafts (filled)

SO68789031

Shaft (filled)

 

Chorley Pit, Chorley (SO70888321)

Coal

 

Chorley Drift, Chorley (SO70888321)

see Chorley Pit

 

Crumpsend Pit, Highley (SO7383)

Coal

 

Deserts Wood Pit, Billingsley (SO707842)

Coal

 

SO707842

Bellpits

SO707842

Shafts (collapsed)

 

Eardington Deep Pit, Eardington (SO715899)

Coal

The shaft is capped.

 

Earnwood Pit, Buttonbridge (SO7380)

Coal

 

Eudon George Pit, Glazeley (SO690892)

Coal

The shaft is filled.

 

Harcourt Colliery, Chorley (SO701828)

Coal

Opened in 1856 by Robert Jones, working the Four Foot seam. It closed in 1881 but was reopened in 1923 by Thomas Halsall & Company. There were only 2 men working underground and 2 on the surface and the mine closed soon afterwards.

 

SO701829

Managers house (C19)

SO701829

Shaft (capped)

 

Highley Colliery, Highley (SO74838300)

Coal

 

Highley Wood Pit, Highley (SO7283)

Coal

 

Johnson & Stokes’ Colliery, Billingsley (SO71058380)

Coal

 

SO72563838

Miners cottage (C19)

SO709842

Shaft (collapsed)

SO71058380

Shaft (filled)

 

Kingswood Pit, Buttonoak (SO73177717)

Coal

The shafts are filled.

 

Kinlet Colliery, Highley (SO739819)

Coal

 

Knowle Farm Pit, Stottesdon (SO70148173)

Coal

 

SO70148173

Adits (collapsed)

SO70158173

Drainage adit (blocked as water supply)

 

Mamble Colliery, Cleobury Mortimer (SO690718)

Coal

 

New England Pit, Highley (SO7284)

Coal

 

Peace Farm Pit, Chelmarsh (SO716874)

Coal 

In the early 1880s, this was one of two mines on Chelmarsh Common. It is possible that these mines were connected with the grandiose plans at Billingsley Colliery but little is known about them. The shaft is filled.

 

Stanley Colliery, Highley (SO74878288)

Coal

 

Winwood’s Pit, Kinlet (SO73107742)

Coal

The shaft is filled.

 

Further Reading

Forest of Wyre Coalfield Statistics

 

Mining in Hunthouse Wood, Mamble

 

Mining on Prior’s Moor, Billingsley