Colliery – Springwood Huddersfield

Following  an earlier post about the Springwood  Footpath, I said that I  may research the old coal workings in the area, this is what I have found out so far. I started by searching  the internet and found that an article had been published in the 1981  ” Yorkshire Archeological Journal ”  by a W P Hartley . I found a copy on line and tried to order it – something went wrong( like it often does) and I heard nothing for about a week or so  ( I was expecting an e mail) , then arriving home one Saturday lunch time , there was a message on the answering machine asking me to ring ” Bailgate Books” in Doncaster. I rang “Bailgate Books ” and spoke to a very nice lady ” did I want the book or not ? because we were expecting an e mail from you”  ” Oh I was expecting one from you ” ” Really ? – no you send us one –”  ( you can see  where this is going can’t you) Anyway  to cut a long story short after a very pleasant conversation with the lady the book was dispatched ( very well packaged indeed) and I received it a couple of days later.                             www.bailgatebooks.com

As stated in a previous post, the Ramsden  estate – headed by Sir John William Ramsden  bought Springwood Hall and land for £20,000 in 1861,

Sir John William Ramsden
Sir John William Ramsden

He immediately asked  a  Mr Hathorn ( an estate surveyor) if coal existed there in workable quantities, ( workable quantities being the key part of the question). The Ramsden’s usually leased off the mineral rights of their land and got a very nice little income from it , so why sir John decided to dip his toe in the water of coal mining   nobody knows. I will now give you a very brief outline of Huddersfield coal mining; I am no geologist so this will be in “layman’s terms”. Huddersfield lies right on the edge of the Yorkshire coalfield and where coal can be found   there is basically only one layer . It is not until you start heading further east – towards Wakefield and the like that coal becomes more plentiful with one seam running under another which runs beneath another; so on the downside Huddersfield does not have a lot of coal , but on the plus side – the coal it does (did) have is not very deep so is relatively easily accessible. The coal mines in the Huddersfield area were generally small , short lived affairs, often lasting less than twenty years and employing few people , compared to towns like wakefield, Barnsley and Selby and so on. Right back to plagiarising( look it up!)  Ms Hartley’s  work  no this isn’t plagiarism I am simply opening his/her work to wider audience. ( question – can plagiarism be plagiarism if the writer tells you that it is plagiarism ???) ( bit too deep Irlsey ?)                  Now back to the mine  – Mr Hathorn   informed the estate manager that about 15 acres of coal were there  and that 36,000 tons could be extracted , but advised leaving one third in the ground to prevent subsidence, The Springwood colliery would require a 20 yard shaft (18m) at a cost of £20 to sink and every thing would move up and down the single shaft – ( so not a drift mine as previously surmised) – best guestimate is that the shaft was oval shaped about 10 ft by 8 ft  ( 3m by 2.5m) like similar collieries  in the area.   A horse gin was used for raising the rubble when  sinking  the shaft ( low technology) here is an example  –

Horse Gin
Horse Gin

I do have a plan of the mine showing the shaft, and a later ventilation shaft at the side of it . I scaled the plan down ( there are two buildings shown ) and compared it to the 1848 map of Huddersfield to get the location of the shaft.

Old mine workings at springwood
Old mine workings at springwood

The buildings on the Mineworking map don’t quite align with the buildings on the street map – so the two do not align exactly – but overlaying the mine map on the street map shows me mineworking under the houses on Springwood Hall Gardens ( oops-  do the building society know?) and the actual mineshaft near the football field off  Bow Street Springwood . Unfortunately I cannot reach this area on foot – it is all fenced and locked off, I don’t mind trespassing  but I’m not risking life and limb climbing spiked fences ! – the nearest I can get is google Earth (try it) and a 105mm lens.

Suspect area of shaft
probable  area of shaft

What I learned from the research by WF  Hartley was that all the buildings were wood ( short lived you see) apart from the engine house which was stone – I  need to elaborate here – because the mine was shallow it was a “wet mine”  and needed water pumps to pump out the water . the steam engine was a valuable piece of equipment and needed a decent building to protect it. Apparently even the pit head building and winding gear were wood -silly to use use expensive materials for a short lived project.  Towards the end of 1862 when the mine was starting production between twelve and fifteen men and a few boys were working underground, but as the year closed numbers were down to six men underground , with three men on the surface.  The Ramsden Estate manager found too much of his time was being taken up with the colliery, so asked Sir John if a mine manager could be employed , Sir John hired a man from Byram called Mr Clifford to manage the mine. Mr Clifford found on his arrival that local men would only work in the mine when no other work could be found, and often left ” to go back into the textile trade”, and with the mine being so wet he had to set aside at least ten tons of  coal per month for the pumps. springwood coal was described as ” average engine coal”. I think we should have a look around for any signs of the colliery – like I say I cannot get to where I think the shaft was , if a horse gin was used we are looking for a relatively flat piece of land  about 10 foot diameter (3m) , we are also looking for the remains of a stone building (engine House).  Lets go.

Where we want to go
Where we want to go

We really need to go up those steps and scout around – unfortunately we cannot get there ! Lets go into the wood lower down.

Fenced off
Fenced off

Sadly where I need to go is fenced off , so Wessyman’s  search for evidence becomes Wessyman’s walk in the woods, but lets look around anyway.

Flatter area
Flatter area

I did find myself drawn to a couple of flatter/clearer areas in the sloping woodland  (what are these about?) There is also the remains of a (drystone?) wall under the tree roots

Remains of wall
Remains of wall
Clearing
Clearing

I do know that the mineworkings are under this woodland but not much evidence – it was the 1860s , the coal that was mined here nearly all went to the “Newtown Mill ” engine house, it was transported by Horse and cart ( there must have been some in Kudos buying your coal from the Lord of The Manor) and when the mill was busy they had to source extra coal from elsewhere as Springwood Colliery could not meet demand. Newtown Mill is long gone but was less than a mile away from the colliery .

Approximate site of Newtown Mill
Approximate site of Newtown Mill

The road you can see is the slip road that goes down to Bradford road , passed Halfords, and the mill stood in front of the railway arches roundabout the grassed area.

Another view
Another  view

Approximate site of Mill.

Now back to the woodland

Coal ?
Coal ?

I did find this lying under the leaves and I couldn’t decide if it was a piece of average engine coal , or an old roof tile or something , didn’t look like a tile – or coal really – dream on. I also found the stone table where Aslan was sacrificed by the white witch –  sorry gone off on a tangent  🙂

Stone Table
Stone Table
  • In 1871 after various problems with the mine and production falling , the Ramsden’s called in an independent mine reviewer, he replied with a long letter that acted as a report that there were ” poor working conditions, inadequate ventilation, and non compliance with government regulations” He also stated that “Mr Clifford is not paid enough and has little incentive to increase output”.   Some things in the report were acted on – like a ventilation shaft being  sunk , but the colliery had seen better days and was beginning to wind down – production had peaked in 1868 , then slowly declined until the mine closed in 1877, an auction was held at the colliery to sell off  various equipment , goods and chattels , including ” A weighing machine, 1000 yards of pit rails, pointers, sleepers, windlass, ” etc,  The auction was held on Monday 29th January 1877 by George Tinker and son. I do not know how much was made at the auction , but the profit from selling the coal amounted to £4,370 , lets take a final look.
    Pottery under a tree root
    Pottery under a tree root
    View down Kayes Field
    View down Kayes Field
    Bluebells pushing through
    Bluebells pushing through

    Will have to visit when the Bluebells are flowering

  • Another drystone wall
    Another drystone wall

    Anyone interested in mining I recommend this  site   Coal Mining in the Huddersfield Area | Underground Histories 

  • I intend to cover more mines in future posts  – keep watching – I welcome any constructive  comments
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2 comments on “Colliery – Springwood Huddersfield

  1. Hi, I find this very interesting. I also are investigating the mining round Huddersfield and its old mines. Springwood Colliery was owned as you say by the Ramsdens but was the only one they put down. The two shafts seem to be directly behind the houses on Springwood and Bow Street. The land being sold in the last few years to an Asian family. Harry Smith (gypsy) when he died his family claimed squatters rights and claimed the land of Kirklees then sold it on. I have other underground plans and bore hole results for this area if you want to contact me.

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