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Nutbrook Colliery Ventilation Furnace Cupola

Joseph Henshaw
(Aka Chimney) - Lound Hall - Page 21

The airshaft ventilation chimney and/or cupolas are rare structures these days, with at least some of those remaining being scheduled ancient monuments. The Nutbrook Colliery furnace ventilation cupola was designed to be remote from the airshaft itself, the furnace therefore being contained at the surface rather than at the base of the shaft. Connection to the airshaft itself would have been via a short inclined tunnel from beneath the base of the cupola. The furnace itself was accessed via an aperture in the side of the cupola, with the airflow (and thus furnace intensity) being controlled here according to the required up-draught. I've no idea whether the fresh air flow was mechanically assisted by the means of bellows, as was the case on similar installations elsewhere.

This method of ventilation was seen as a considerable safety improvement on the underground furnace type, identified by a chimney constructed directly over a shaft. The underground furnace types were implicated in the ignition of mine gases, and could also ignite underground timbers leading to oxygen starvation within workings. At least one of the cupola type furnaces elsewhere operated until the 1950s, whereas by then the Nutbrook structure appears to have acted only as an additional downcast fresh air shaft for the fan ventilated workings of Woodside.

Iron Pyrites
Taken April 2001
at Lound Hall.
Note that only the chimney
like structure originates
from the ventilation complex.

The main airshaft which the cupola served, was sunk in 1867 as part of the ventilation system for the Miller Mundy Shipley Collieries, Nr. Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Brick built with dressed sandstone capping, approx. 20ft high by 6ft diameter and of uniform section. Construction materials probably from brickworks at Shipley Wharf, 0.5 miles North.

Originally located just North of Nutbrook Colliery (Miller Mundy's Southernmost), and part of an apparent furnace ventilation complex with at least one main air shaft being 955ft deep, the cupola being used in an upcast mode to extract foul air from the workings below . At this time it is thought that Nutbrook Colliery was working the Deep Soft (when combined with the Roof Soft 101 inches thick) and Deep Hard (53 inches thick) coals, although the shaft extended another 440 feet, to 60 feet below the Blackshale. It is a reasonable guess that the shaft was further deepened to the Kilburn seam when the Shipley Woodside Colliery absorbed Nutbrook's take, and exploited this deeper seam. Approx. Grid Ref. 4506 4308. Nutbrook Colliery itself shown as active on OS map of 1887.

OS map of 1901 shows Nutbrook Colliery as disused, but the furnace ventilation complex appears in use (railway still connected for furnace consumables?), by now providing additional ventilation for the Shipley Woodside Colliery complex further north via the remaining main air shaft. Much larger Woodside Colliery had taken over reserves available to Nutbrook Colliery on closure.

OS map of 1921 shows the site of the furnace ventilation complex having been cleared with the exception of the cupola (aka chimney) and the main air shaft. By this time its only purpose would appear to be as an additional downcast fresh air shaft for the active workings from Woodside Colliery with the cupola acting as an inlet not outlet.

Late 1966 saw closure of the Shipley deep mines. Many of the economically valuable seams, from the Top First waterloo down, were at a reasonable thickness in this vicinity. It was this very fact that led to the considerable opencast activity at the Nutbrook site, which has swept away all trace of its history. The cupola was obviously seen as being of historical importance as it was removed from its original site and rebuilt at Lound Hall in the 1970's. For those familiar with the area, it now lies more or less beneath the mine water settling lagoons to the West of the Shipley View Estate.

When the cupola was rebuilt at Lound Hall, the furnace aperture had disappeared (i.e. bricked-up), which may explain why the structure seemed shorter than when I remember it in situ. All the other artefacts from the mining museum have been removed or lost. The National Coal Mining Museum were not even aware of its existence, and it remains one of the few (and albeit displaced, increasingly disappearing relics) of our once huge and important local industrial heritage.

I believe that this structure requires the specific protection that it currently seems to lack. The Erewash Valley has an industrial heritage which compares with anywhere within the country, yet seems to be increasingly overlooked and/or swept away.

Note that the Miller Mundy family were major landowners, coal producers and to a lesser extent industrialists. They were also instrumental in the development of the Midland Railway Company, and the building of the Nutbrook Canal. Their Shipley Kilburn coal was highly prized and apparently fuelled the fires at Buckingham Palace prior to exhaustion.

(Page 2 - Some Bad News, March 2002)

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