Saturday 08 August 2020

Local Coal Mines

Coal was mined in the north of the parish in the 18th and 19th centuries, principally near the main road to the east of Wrentnall, where pits are first recorded in I7I7. Mines on the glebe to the east of Black Lion Farm were in use for a short period c.1734, and were re-opened in 1793, while nearby pits on the manorial estate were leased in 1766 and 1792. There were numerous pit mounds in this area c.1780. A shaft was sunk at this time near Castle Place Farm, and mining continued there, and at New House Farm, throughout the 19th century. To the south a mine near Cotham Leasowes Farm was in operation c I776-1782.

[From the diary of Thomas Poole: 'On the 4th of June 1833, visited Black Lion Colliery looking for fossils; called the next day and went underground. The colliery had a steam engine for pumping and winding, a new shaft had been sunk over the road, (by implication, the main road) about six men employed working a two foot seam on their sides with the coal then sledged by a boy to the shaft bottom. May have gone no more than 30 yards from the shaft.']

New House Colliery operated between Newhouse Lane (originally called Coalpit Lane) and Longden Common and coal mined on New House Farm was used for brick manufacture after 1832. 1931 copies of plans exist showing the status of the mine in 1882. Although Castle Place Colliery closed in the late 19th century, there are abandonment plans showing the coal face dated 1947 because it was briefly re-opened after the second world war, without much success, by R and J Fowles.

Gradually, however, the smaller pits became exhausted, as it was not possible in those days to work any great distance from the bottom of the shaft, a new pit therefore had to be sunk, and to greater depths, though here Nature provided compensations, for, generally speaking, the quality of coal found at depth is better than that found near the surface. In the early years of the 20th century the mines round Pontesbury and Westbury closed down one by one until, in 1920, there were only three left working in what is geologically known as the Shrewsbury Coalfield.