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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913


1881 - Page 1

Union And Parliament

Alfred Barnes of Grassmoor Colliery Co became Liberal MP for Chesterfield.  He also played a prominent position in the Mining Association of Great Britain becoming President in 1881.

Employers’ Liability Act

The Employers Liability Act 1880 came into force from 1st January 1881.  Not popular by the coal owners because it was set up to provide compensation for certain cases. Many coal owners attempted to get their men to contract out of this Act and declared that any man either being on strike or locked out would only be re - employed if they did that.

Prior to 1880 an injured man had no right to compensation in respect of accidents happening at work. It was possible to sue the owner through common law but it had to be proved that the accident was due to negligence of the employer and that was difficult, in fact nigh on impossible so the workman suffered.

Holing Machine Introduced

Barber Walker and Co introduced a holing machine by Winstanley in the Deep Hard seam at Eastwood (Nottinghamshire),  (sunk in 1834). However it was not successful and the colliery closed in 1881. The Manager for the pits was William Weston and the Agent was Robert Harrison.

Oil Lamps Too Smoky

Around this period, oil lamps were banned at the Pinxton pits because they were considered too smoky.  Fortunately the retrograde step to using candles did not lead to any major disaster.

Colliery Name Changed Again

Winkcobank colliery (Derbyshire)  name was changed again, this time to Winks Bank (South Normanton Colliery Co).

Wage Increase Conceded

During March 1881 a wage increase of between 2½% and 5% was conceded at Clay Cross, Cottam, Derbyshire Silkstone, Dunston, Grassmoor, Holmewood, Lings, Pilsley, Staveley and Sheepbridge collieries.  A strike had begun at Ilkeston (EM Mundy) in February.

Monkwood Into Receivership

Monkwood colliery went into receivership on 4th March 1881.  The partnership of Plevins and Walker had commenced in 1877, with Plevins being the sole owner of the pit previously.

Barlow Lees taken over by Plevins from Monkwood Colliery Co was flooded and closed.  Blackshale at Newbold, another CH Plevins’s and Co pit was taken over by Newbold Iron and Coal Co. The New Dronfield Silkstone Coal Co Ltd replaced Dronfield Silkstone Coal CoLtd.  Grassmoor Co reverted back to Messrs A and E Barnes. Heather Colliery Co Ltd (Leicestershire)  in voluntary liquidation June 1881.

Wages Reduced Again

During the Summer further wage reductions were made by the companies particularly in Nottinghamshire and in the Erewash Valley coal getting was reduced by about 2d (1p) a ton.

The Industry Recovered

The industry recovered towards Autumn and selling prices increased and naturally the miners thought that a rise of 10% in rates was on the cards. There was a demand for steam - raising coal for the factories.

Coal owners always tried to maximise the output per shift, so that when times were good, the profits would be high and when the times were bad, they would keep the cost of production down to a minimum.

Underground Fire At Ilkeston

During May 1881 an underground fire that had raged at Ilkeston colliery (Ilkeston Colliery Co) for several days was finally extinguished.  The burning debris was removed from the site and transported to the surface.  A similar fire again started by spontaneous combustion at a neighbouring colliery some weeks previously had spread into the working stalls and got out of control.  The pit was abandoned and great quantities of sand were thrown down the shaft to extinguish the fire.

Nottinghamshire Miners’ Federation Founded

In July 1881 the Nottinghamshire Miners Federation was founded and formally inaugurated at Kimberley.  President was Joseph Allen (1881 - 1883) and Secretary William Kay part time (1881 - 1884).  Original branches were at Arnold, Annesley, Clifton, Wollaton, Whitemoor, Bestwood, Newstead and Cinderhill.   Entrance was 1s 6d (7½p) for adults, 9d (3¾p) for half and then 3d (1¼p) and 1½d (½p) a week respectively. There had been several unsuccessful attempts to form an association earlier as all the mine owners with the exception of Thomas North were against such an organisation. The value of £1 then compared to 2010 was around £50. The Yorkshire Miners Association was formed in the same year whereas the Derbyshire Miners Association was the first union, founded in 1880. It would be a few years before other Coalfields would join them. For example, Warwickshire in 1885, Leicestershire in 1887 and South Derbyshire in 1889.

All the other Coalfield areas in England and Scotland would join and form unions by 1897 with the last being the South Wales Miners Federation in 1898.

Coke Ovens

Beehive Coke Ovens at 12 feet Diameter
Coke inside an oven is shown.

In that year 62 beehive coke ovens at 12 feet (3.65m) diameter were erected between Silver Hill and Teversall pits.


In 1881 a strike ensued at all three local pits of Stanton Iron Co.  Over 1,500 men and boys at Silver Hill, Teversall and Pleasley came out over proposals to increase the rents by 3d (1¼p) a week, and a charge of 1d (app ½p) for subscription to field clubs and the discontinuance of a free coal allowance. The Company threatened to close the collieries and after 5 weeks out, the men returned to work.

Name Changes

  • Butterley Park Nos 1,2,3,4 and 5 now known as Butterley Park (Butterley Iron and Coal Co)
  • Ilkeston colliery transferred from Butterley Iron and Coal Co to Ilkeston Colliery Co Ltd
  • North Wingfield No1 from Clay Cross Co to North Wingfield Colliery Co Ltd
  • Pilsley from Holdsworth and Co to Pilsley Colliery Co Ltd
  • Plumbley from John Rhodes to Plumbley Colliery Co Ltd
  • Sleights and Langton transferred from Coke and Co to The Pinxton Coal Co.

Short Time Working

Short time working was being experienced in Nottinghamshire in July, but by October the mines were flourishing once more. In December the union put in for a 10% rise for mineworkers due to the upturn in the industry.

Debts At Monkwood

Monkwood colliery had debts of £4,276 17s 2d (£4,276.86) in March 1881. Mr Walker became owner in 1877 and
Mr Plevins was the owner previously. They had entered into a partnership that dissolved in March 1880.

Molyneux Abandonment Plans

Molyneux Top Hard and Dunsil seam abandonment plans were deposited on 27 Jan 1881 by the owners Eastwood and Swingler and Co (workings were shown on the plan as finished 1879, however some part was in pencil – not up to date?).

My Plan Of The Upper Meden Valley

My plan shows ancient workings in the Upper Meden Valley from the mid 1500s to the late 1800s.  The small drift mine to the extreme left, Harper Hill (Horace Taylor) would work Waterloo seam under these old workings in the 1940s - 1960s.

Silverhill workings in the Top Hard and Dunsil seams worked up to old workings near the basset edge or outcrop. Butcherwood, just off the plan to north east of Silverhill worked Top Hard and a date of 1892 shows where these workings had advanced to. One might say it was fortunate that a large fault around 100 feet (30m) prevented the Stanton Ironworks Company from working to the west where the position of some of these old workings was suspect.

Workings from Brierley Hill (later Sutton) colliery also approached towards these old workings but boreholes were drilled in advance of the face as that company obviously was also unsure of the position. They decided to stop advancing these workings in the Top Hard seam remembering the inrush of water that had occurred at Molyneux colliery in 1869.

The plan shows numerous shafts and extent of workings in Top Hard and Dunsil seams.

Opencast Reveals Ancient Workings

The plan shows some of these ancient workings being exposed when open casting operations were carried out in the Meden Valley centred around the City of Whiteborough in the late 20th Century.

Collieries Sunk or Opened in 1881

  • Avenue No 9 (Clay Cross Co)
  • Cottam colliery was put to work (Renishaw Coal and Iron Co) (Derbyshire)
  • Heath End Cannel mine (GW Lancaster?) (Leicestershire) corner of Rough Heath Wood, stony coal 4’ 0” (1.22m), stony coal 2’ 0” (0.61m), cannel coal 7’ 0” (2.13m), 80 yards app (73m) and another shaft south of this about 100 yards (91m) deep
  • Marehay colliery (Derbyshire) Butterley Co
    (Another Marehay pit was working nearby and was owned by the Marehay Colliery Co) E439490 N348630, E439490 N348615
  • New Main (Butterley Co) sunk by Dec
  • Pinxton No1 shaft sunk in 1836 by Coke to the Low Main was deepened to the Blackshale seam
  • Trowell Moor (Nottinghamshire) was being developed.
  • Stanton (South Derbyshire), Darcy coal or Kilburn at 4’ 3” (1.3m) thick and 321½ yards (294m) deep was abandoned in December.

Manager Fined

Michael Straw (951), Manager of Boythorpe colliery was fined 10s (50p) plus costs for not allowing a checkweighman to perform his duties.


Snibston No3 (George Robert Stephenson, Joseph Sandars and Charles Binns) Middle Lount seam 9/1881, only a few headings worked in pit bottom, Surveyor JHR White.

Electricity First Introduced Underground

Electricity was first introduced underground in Great Britain at Pleasley colliery (Derbyshire) Stanton Iron Co) by RE Crompton in June 1881. 30 ‘Swan light’ glow lamps were coupled by insulated wires to a main cable and taken some 300 yards (275m) inbye into the workings.

The Mines Inspector Thomas Evans and his Assistant Arthur Henry Stokes (1505), and William Hey (717) the Mine Manager and William Clark (985) Agent for Stanton Iron Co and several members of the Royal Commission oversaw the operation. The experiment was a success, however the lamps were removed after a while as it was stated that the men ‘did not like them’! The power was supplied via an overhead line from a generator at Teversal.

A similar experiment was carried out at a pit in Glasgow around the same time.

The Brush system of electric lighting was inaugurated at Chesterfield.

Extract out of the Midland and Northern Coal and Iron Trades Gazette March 9th 1881.
Directory of Collieries in the United Kingdom at work in 1881:

Alfreton area:
Benton and Woodiwiss (owners) - Shirland No1.
Blackwell Colliery Co Ltd – No2 A Winning and Nos 1, 3 and 4 B Winning.
Butterley Iron and Coal Co Old Birchwood
Britain and Brands, Butterley
Western, Butterley
New Main Nos 7 and 8, Codnor Park
Exhibition No 9, Codnor Park.
CRP Moorwood – Swanwick (Deep) and Swanwick (Old).
J Oakes and Co – Blackshale and Coates Park
Stonyford and Deep Main Nos 1 and 2.
Charles Seely and Co – Tibshelf Nos1 and 2
Tibshelf No 2 and Shady.
Coke and Co – Sleights Nos1 and No6, Pinxton
Pinxton No3, Pinxton.
Northfield Colliery Co – Northfield, Shirland.
South Normanton Colliery Co – Winks Bank, South Normanton.
George Pearson and Co – Oakerthorpe, Wingfield.

Ambergate Coal and Brick Co - Ambergate.
Francis Whatstandwell Barton - Wigwell.

G Cursham - Heage Nos1 and 2.
Thomas Price - Gun Lane, Heage.

Burton on Trent:
Coton Park and Lenton Colliery Co – Coton and Lenton.
Countess of Chesterfield – Bretby Nos 1and 2 and 3 and Newhall Park.
Charles F Hastings – Church Gresley.
Hall and Boardman – Cadley Hill Nos 1,2,3 and Swadlincote Nos 1,2,3.
Granville Colliery Co – Granville, Swadlincote.
Maples and Co – Stanhope and Woodfield, Swadlincote.
J and N Nadin – Woodfield and Main, Swadlincote
Stanhope and Eureka, Swadlincote.
James Woodward – Clay pits Nos 1and 2, Swadlincote.

Buxton Lime Co – Goyte and Thatchmarsh.

Messrs Barnes – Nos 1,2,3 and 4 Grassmoor.
Cornelius Black and Co – Renishaw.
W and H Bridden – Brockwell.
Chesterfield and Boythorpe Colliery Co – Boythorpe Lane and Silkstone.
John Brampton Crooks – Holme and Bridge Inn.
HJ Edwards – Holme Close.
Messrs Galloway – Owl Coates.
Gregory and Sharratt – Reservoir.
Hardwick Coal Co – Holmewood.
Philemon Hicks – Locoford Lane.
Holdsworth and Co – Pilsley Nos 1,2,3.
Hundall Colliery Co – Hundall.
Industrial Coal Co – Hasland and Storforth Lane.
William Lancaster – Wheeldon Mill.
Monkwood Colliery Co – Monkwood (Old) and Barlow Lees.
Henry Naylor – Brockwell Road and Newbold Lane.
George Orwin – Old Dunston.
Theophilus Pearson – Highfield.
George Senior – Highfield.
Joseph Springthorpe – Cutthorpe.
Temple Normanton Colliery Co – Temple Normanton.
Tapton Coal Co Ltd – Wallsend and Locoford.
Wingerworth Coal Co – Avenue, Williamthorpe and Lings.
Knowles, Wright and Knowles – New Brampton.
Alton Coal and Coke Co – Alton, Ashover.
Minnikin and Co – Bathurst Main, Bolsover.
William Nichols – Riber, Brampton.
William Arkwright – Sutton, near Heath, Derbyshire.
WD Holford – Hill House, Whittington.
Knowles and Co – Grasscroft Wood, Whittington and Forge, Whittington.
Joseph and George Wells – Holbrook No1, Killamarsh.
Whittington Coal Co – Foxley Oaks, Whittington.
CH Plevins and Co – Blackshale and Potters, Newbold.
Derbyshire Silkstone Coal Co – Albert, Sheepbridge.
Whittington and Sheepbridge Coal Co – Broom Field, Sheepbridge.
Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co (Chesterfield) - Sheepbridge
- Dunston, Sheepbridge.
- Nesfield, Sheepbridge
- Langwith
- Barlow, Sheepbridge.

Clay Cross:
Thomas Holdsworth – Alma.
Kirby and Cross – Furnace.
North Wingfield Colliery Co – Ell.
Stretton Colliery Co – Stretton.
Tyler and Woodward – Gents Hill.
Clay Cross Iron and Coal Co – Clay Cross Nos 1,2,3
Moreton Cross Nos 5,6, - Park House No7.
North Wingfield No4, - Avenue, - Danesmoor No8.

Bourne and Son – Ryefield, Denby.
G and WH Dawes – Salterwood and Ryefield Nos 1,2, Denby.
Exors of William Drury Lowe – Denby and Salterwood (New), Denby.
Bros Gillett – Heanor Common Side, Heanor.
Heanor and Marlpool Colliery Co – Marlpool, Heanor.
Geo and Thomas Henry Small – Kilburne, Kilburne and Stanley, Stanley.

Bros Andrews – Silkstone Main.
William Booker and Co – Woodhouse Nos 1 and 2.
Dronfield Silkstone Coal Co – Hallows Farm and Dronfield Silkstone and Gosforth.
Chadwick, Barker and Co – Totley Moor.
Brothers Rhodes – Troway and Sickle Brook Lane.
John Sheard – Gomersal.
Swift and Allen – Snowden Lane.
A and WT Badger – Fallswood.
John Hewitt – Bull Close, Unstone.
Henry Rangeley and Sons – Drift, Unstone.
James Rhodes and Son – Summerley, Unstone.
Samuel Saxton – Unstone.
Unstone Coal and Coke Co Ltd – Unstone.
Unstone Silkstone Coal Co – Unstone.

Gosling and Co – Hollingwood.
Green and Co – Newlands.
Renishaw Coal and Iron Co – Cottam (Old) and (New).
John Rhodes – Plumbley.
Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co – Norwood.
John Shirtcliffe – Killamarsh.
Trustees J and G Wells – High Lane and Silkstone No 1.
Joseph and George Wells - Silkstone No2.
Joseph and George Wells – Parkgate Nos 3 and 4 and Hornthorpe.
John Worrall – Streetfield.
Richardson and Vardy – White Lane.

Jowitt and Clayton – Simmondley.

Butterley Iron and Coal Co – New Granby.
Cadman and Co – Old Park.
Glendon Iron Co – Mapperley.
Matthew Hobson – Mill Field.
Ilkeston Colliery Co – Oakwell.
Manner Colliery Co – Manners.
Enoch Mould – Carr Close.
Rutland Coal Co – Rutland Nos 3 and 4.
Joseph Shorthouse – Peacock.
Whitehouse and Son – West Hallam Nos 2 and 4 and 10 and Kirk Hallam and West Hallam.

Langley Mill:
John Beardsley – Ormonde.
Butterley Iron and Coal Co – Langley, Bailey Brook and Loscoe.
Henry Fletcher - Heanor Lane.
WJ Grimshaw – New Heanor.

Ludworth Brick Co – Mill Brow.

Hucknall Huthwaite Co – Hucknall Huthwaite.
Stanton Iron Co – Pleasley and Dale Nos 1and 2, Stanton Gate.

Butterley Iron and Coal Co – Forty Horse and Ripley Nos 1 and 2, and Hartshay and Denby and Waingroves and Railway and Marehay.
WC Haslam: - Pentrich.
Robert Hunt - Ripley Road.
Marehay Colliery Co – Marehay Nos 1 and 2.
Messrs Ford – Marehay Main.

Chadwick and Co – Totley Moor.
Jeffcock and Dunn – Birley South and Birley West.
Isaac Sykes - Dore Moor.
William Wilbraham – Dore .

Alfred M Mundy – Newcastle and Woodside and Nutbrook and Coppice.

Staveley Coal and Iron Co – Campbell, Hollingwell Old, Hollingwell New, Seymour,
Springwell, Barlborough, Ireland.
Evans, Wingfield and Co – St Johns.
Shireoaks Colliery Co – Southgate.
Miles Barber, Barlboro – Barlboro.

Andrews and Sons – Compstall Road, Marple.
Aspenshaw Coal Co – Aspenshaw Tunnel, Hayfield.
Thomas Bennett – Birch Vale and Bugsworth, New Mills, High Lee and Thornsett Hey,Dolley Tunnel,
New Mills.
Levi and Elijah Hall – Beard and Bugsworth, New Mills
Burnd Edge Nos 1 and 2
ShaleCross, New Mills.
J Mellor Jowitt – Chisworth, Mellor and Alma, New Mills.
J and M Tymm – Bottoms Hall, Marple.
Buxton Lime Co – Whaley, Horwich Tunnel, Whaley Bridge.
William Proctor – Fernilee, Whaley Bridge.

Tibshelf :
Edward Chambers – Diminsdale Old and Diminsdale New.

Nottinghamshire pits:
Bestwood Coal and Iron Co Ltd - Bestwood.
Chas Seely and Co - Bulwell, Cinder Hill, Kimberley, Newcastle.
Clifton Colliery Co Ltd - Clifton, 1 and 2.
New and Oldknow - Wollaton.

Awsworth Iron and Coal Co - Blackshale, Furnace, Piper.
Barber Walker and Co - Brinsley, Cotmanhay, High Park, Moorgreen, Eastwood, Underwood.
John Beardsley - Clinton.
William Hall - Lodge.
Digby Coal Co - New London, Speedwell – standing.
Knighton and Smith - Springfield –standing.

Skegby Coal and Lime Co Ltd - Brierley Hill, Skegby
Stanton Iron Co - Teversall No1 and No2

Nottingham Guardian Friday 14 October 1881
Skegby Colliery

The lease of this property was sold by auction by Mr Whitehead on Monday, at the Mart, Milton Street, Nottingham, for £3,000.

It comprises 634 acres for twenty years at the following royalties - namely, £75 per acre for coal gotten from the Top Hard seam; £46.14s.6d an acre for coal gotten from the Dunsill seam and £51,11s.3d per acre for coal gotten from the Waterloo, Tupton and Black Shale seams respectively.

All the working plant including implements, stock of timber and included in the purchase.

Solicitors for the vendors, Messrs Wells and Hind.

Barber Walker and Co - Watnall, New
Hucknall Colliery Co - Hucknall Torkard No1
Linby Coal Co - Linby
Annesley Coal Co - Annesley
Newstead Colliery Co Ltd - Newstead

Butterley Co - Mexbro’, Plumptre, Portland Nos 1, 2 and 4
James Oakes and Co - Riddings

The Pinxton Coal Co - Langton

New Hucknall Colliery Co Ltd - New Hucknall

Shireoaks Colliery Co Ltd - Shire Oaks and Southgate Wood

Richard Evans - Tunnel
Cossall Colliery Co Cossall

Leicestershire pits:
Bagworth Coal Co - Bagworth HA Knighton
JJ Ellis - Ellistown
Joseph Thornton - Nailstone

Holmes and Hulme - Blackfordby Alfred Eley
Heather Coal Co - Heather (pronounced 'Heether')

Boothorpe Brick and Coal Co - Boothorpe

Ashby de la Zouch:
Ibstock Colliery Co Ltd - Ibstock Dr Thompson Agent, WP Sheppard
Lord Donington - Moira
Lord Donington - Oakthorpe Thomas Bradshaw, FC Gillett Agent
Lord Donington - Rawdon Thomas Bradshaw
Lord Donington - Reservoir German Buxton
Checkland, Son, and Williams - Donisthorpe No1 and No2
Coleorton Colliery Co - Coleorton Henry Taylor

Burton on Trent:
Thomas Green - Potsherd
Knowles and Co - Newfield

Capt Perry - Plough Flats
The Woodside Fire Brick Co Ltd - Pool Clay Pits
Knowles and Co - Newfield, Mount Pleasant

GR Stephenson - Snibston No1, No2, No3 JHR White
Whitwick Colliery Co Ltd - Whitwick JW Richardson

M Petrie - Lindridge

Whitwick Colliery Co Ltd - Speedwell JW Richardson

Bardon Hill:
South Leicestershire Colliery Co - South Leicestershire George Lewis Agent, Leonard Clifford Cox
Netherseal Colliery Co Ltd - Netherseal Robert Howe and Agent

6 Years To Bring Pleasley Into Full Production

It was reported by George Crompton, Director of Stanton Iron Co that it had taken 6 years to bring Pleasley into full production because of the shortage of capital, following 7 years of low iron prices. There were several small explosions at the Top Hard coalface workings during the year, fortunately with no loss of life.

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Pit Terminology - Glossary


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