Saturday, 30 April 2016

Featherstone's Collieries - Ackton Hall



                      
This website
is in memory of more than
300 men and boys
who lost their lives in accidents at
Ackton Hall Colliery 1873 - 1985
Featherstone Main Colliery 1868 - 1935
Snydale Colliery 1863 - 1965

______________________________________


   ACKTON HALL COLLIERY 
                         
  George Bradley, the owner of Ackton Hall and most of the land in Featherstone, borrowed money in 1873 to start a colliery near the railway station. He sank two shafts to the Stanley Main Seam and called it Featherstone Manor Colliery. He later had them deepened to the Warren House Seam and in good times the output was about 200 tons per day. But in 1888 trade was bad and he couldn't keep up the payments on the mortgage and he was declared bankrupt. In August 1890 Samuel Cunliffe Lister (later to be Lord Masham) bought the Ackton Hall Estates, including the colliery (now called Ackton Hall and Featherstone Manor Collieries, possibly to differentiate between the two seams), and set about a major improvement scheme including shafts to the Silkstone and Haigh Moor Seams. "Manor" was dropped from the name.


  This 1890 map shows how small the colliery was with one coal winding shaft and the upcast shaft and a few sidings. There was also a small works to produce coke and town gas.

  In 1893 during a national coal strike there was a riot at the colliery and soldiers fired ten bullets at the ground in front of demonstrators. The ricochets injured about 20 men and two died from their injuries. The official inquiry came to the conclusion the attack upon the colliery was preconcerted and carried out by mobs from a distance. The Ackton Hall miners took no part beyond that of looking on.  (See the Featherstone Chronicle for 1893 for a full account.)

  This drawing from the Illustrated London News is supposed to show the moment the troops opened fire. Note the woman and child used for dramatic effect. There were no reports of woman and children being present.

  This is another drawing from the Illustrated London News showing a lone soldier and two policemen standing guard in the days after it was all over. 

   During the strike work on expanding the colliery continued. A tubway was made over the sidings and railway lines to enable the increasing amounts of stone and shale to be tipped at the south side of the railway. This map, made for the riot inquiry, shows the tubway but not yet in use.
 
                          This photo shows the start of the muckstack south of the railway.




                           The tubway over the railway lines can be seen at the left of this photo/


  The inquiry plan above shows storage space for empty wagons was limited by Station Lane. In 1894 the Council gave permission for a bridge over Station Lane which enabled the siding to be taken as far as Halfpenny Lane near Cressey's Corner.


  In 1895 it was decided to make the main entrance off Station Lane instead of Green Lane. A large office block and two houses were built.
  Coal production began from the Haigh Moor Seam in 1895 and from the Silkstone Seam in 1897. In 1900 there was a visit from the  British Association. The booklet printed to accompany the visit gives the output at 2,700 tons per day, the mine employed 2,200 men and boys and 160 horses, and owned 1,600 railway wagons. This photo was printed in the booklet.


 The booklet described the new screening plant where hand pickers removed lumps of stone and shale from the coal, and the coal from the three seams was kept apart and sorted into different sizes.



  There was a serious fire in the Haigh Moor winding house in 1901 and the roof caved in. it was out of action for a few days. the next year there was a fire in the fitting shops and the damage was estimated at £100. Both fires were put out by the colliery fire brigade.
 

  In 1903 Lord Masham handed over the Featherstone estates including Ackton Hall Colliery to his second son the Hon J C Lister. (The first son who inherited the title died in 1917 so Mr Lister became Lord Masham.)
  As the underground workings got further away from the shafts in  Featherstone it was decided to sink another shaft at Ackworth and install a ventilating fan. Sinking commenced in 1912.


  There was a coal strike in 1919 and sailors were sent to some collieries in Yorkshire to keep the pumps running. The miners' union said they must not be interfered with, and they were well received in Featherstone.
 

  By the 1920's the muckstack south of the railway had reached its limit. Here it is towering over Featherstone Square.
 

  With no more tipping space south of the railway the only way to go was north, but the original Green Lane stack was in the way. An aerial flight was installed over the stack to start another tip near Featherstone Main Colliery.

 
   The start of Ackton Hall Colliery's new stack can be seen at the side of that tipped by Featherstone Main Colliery.




  By 1924 the pit was at its peak employing 1,940 men underground and 636 on the surface. This photo shows one of the more than 2,500 workers, one of the 1,600 coal wagons and one of the 160 horses and pit ponies.

  In 1924 a memorial was erected in the pit yard to commemorate the miners who left to fight in the war. The photos below show the unveiling ceremony and the inscription.






Featherstone's Collieries - Featherstone Main



FEATHERSTONE MAIN COLLIERY 


  In 1868 George Bradley leased 948 acres of his Ackton Hall estate to George Shaw, a rich Sheffield man. The lease was granted for 60 years for the Stanley Main Seam with the option of taking a lease on the Haigh Moor Seam below. George Shaw agreed to pay a royalty of sixpence on each ton of coal, and after seven years a minimum rent of £1,000. Shaft sinking began straight away and it was named Featherstone Colliery. 
  George Shaw died in 1870 leaving John Shaw as beneficiary. He gave notice in 1871 to George Bradley of his intention to take up the lease on the Haigh Moor Seam, but George Bradley refused to grant it, no doubt wanting to keep that good coal for his own colliery. John Shaw changed the name of his colliery to Featherstone Main in 1871, no doubt to upstage George Bradley's proposed colliery about to be started. 
  George Bradley took the dispute over the Haigh Moor Seam to the Court of Chancery in 1873 where he sought to have the agreement overturned because John Shaw was not a proper party to the contract, and the time for taking up the lease had expired. The Master of the Rolls ruled against George Bradley on both counts and the way was open for the expansion of John Shaw's colliery. In 1907 the colliery became part of the South Kirkby, Featherstone and Hemsworth Collieries Ltd.

A map of the colliery in 1890.


An early photo of the entrance to the colliery. The second chimney is only half built.
The access road from Green Lane.

Another photo of the access road.


A Featherstone Main Colliery locomotive and wagon.



 Two tons three hundredweights of coal in one lump.

A map of the colliery in 1930.

 A Featherstone Main muckstack overshadowed by one of Ackton Hall's.

 A view of the colliery yard.

The colliery yard with half the gantry removed.
 
Featherstone Main Colliery from Featherstone Lane.

  The colliery probably reached its maximum output in 1924 when 2,095 men and boys were employed underground and 480 on the surface. One seam was closed in 1930 throwing hundreds of Featherstone men on the dole.
  The coal seams had bands of shale in them which was difficult to separate and there were constant disputes between colliers and management about the amount of shale and stone sent out with the coal. (Note: It was called dirt hence dirt tips or muckstacks.) There were often strikes over the percentage allowed and in 1935 things came to a head.
  The Featherstone Main miners decided on a strike because they considered the management wanted to deduct more money than they though fair for the amount of dirt sent out with the coal. The miners at South Kirkby, Ackton Hall and Hemsworth all voted to back them.  The management said Featherstone Main Colliery had been run at a loss for some time and if the men handed in their strike notice the mine would be closed. The men thought it was a bluff and went on strike, but it wasn't a bluff and it was announced the mine would not reopen for work and salvage operations would start.
  Because it was a wet pit and there were underground connections to Ackton Hall and Snydale Collieries the shafts were kept in operation and the shaftmen from Ackton Hall Colliery went at regular intervals to pump the water out. Many of the surface buildings were retained and used to repair Ackton Hall's wooden wagons and reclaim copper from old electric cables.
  Snydale Colliery closed in 1966 and it was decided to put in a water dam in the connection to Ackton Hall Colliery and fill in the shafts. The site was partly cleared but some buildings remained and were used by private companies.


  
One of the muckstacks 50 years after the pit closed.

  Eventually the whole area became an opencast mine and when the coal was extracted the site was levelled and became the green fields as it was in the 1860's. 

  The pit yard was where the footpath from Featherstone Lane joins that from Green Lane up to where the new footpath goes to Sewerbridge Lane.



MANAGERS
Earnest Andrews 1868-1886
J T Bennett 1886-1893
Thomas Thompson 1893-1897
Peter Darlington 1897- 1922
Austin M G Prest 1922-1927
John Wells McTrusty 1927-1928
C S Magee 1928-1934
N Baster 1934-1935



FEATHERSTONE MAIN COLLIERY FATAL ACCIDENTS

Note: This list will be extended as more information is available. Not all first names or ages are known.
1871
 George Reynolds age 51, and James Pitchford age 19 were working with a candle for light. A fall of roof brought down some gas which the candle ignited. They was badly burnt and died a few days later.
1872
William Phœnox, W Livesey and John Cawthorne. Phœnox, a deputy, was examining the pit before work started and took off the top of his lamp and ignited firedamp. Phœnox was 43, Livesey was 14 and Cawthorne was 13.
1875
Charles Greenhough, a collier age 25 was killed by a fall of roof.
James McVay, a surface screener age 32 of Pontefract was crushed by wagons.
 1877
John Henry Dixon,  a collier age 27 was killed by a fall of coal. 
1878
 Elijah Walker, a collier age 20 was killed by a fall of stone.
John Hunter, age 14 was run over by tubs.
1881
William Wait, a collier age 62 was crushed by tubs.
1883
Matthew Travis, a pony driver age 15 was run over by tubs.
1884
W Whaites, a collier age 24 was injured by a fall of roof on February 15 and died March 11.
1886
Thomas Parkes, a collier age 38 was buried by a fall of coal. He was got out and taken home where he died two hours later.
1887
Edward Limb, a collier age 56 was killed by a fall of roof.
David Hodson, a screener age 17 was crushed by wagons and died the next day.
1888
Adolphus Rowley, a pony driver age 19 was crushed by tubs and died two months later.
Thomas Cardo, a trapper age 14 fell out of the cage.
1889
Harry Glossop, a shunter age 22 was crushed by tubs.

1891
William Longbottom, a surface worker age 25 was hit on the head by a lump of coal on December 1 and died on December 20.
1892
Joseph Westwood, a collier age 49 was killed by a fall of coal.


1893
Tom Roberts, a pony driver age 14 was injured when his head was crushed between a tub and the side of the roadway. He was taken home and died the same night.
1894
Joseph Taylor, a byworker age 23 was killed by a fall of stone.
Joseph Foster, a collier age 30 was killed by a fall of roof.
1895
John Henry Thomas, a labourer age 14 was knocked down by a wagon and died a few hours later in Clayton Hospital.
William Scott, a collier age 54 was injured by a fall of coal and the next day in Clayton Hospital.
1897
Thomas William Dutton, a driver age 16 was crushed between a tub and a bar. 
1898
George Horbury, a shunter age 22 of Streethouse was riding on his shunter's pole when he fell off and was run over by a wagon.
Edwin Frobisher, a colliery age 49 was killed by a fall of roof.
1901
Francis Adey, a collier age 24 was killed by a fall of roof. 
1902
Henry Womersley, a byeworker age 55 of Kinsley was killed by a fall of roof.
John Barnes, a collier age 25 was killed by a fall of coal. 
John Hardy, a collier age 40 of Pretoria Street was injured by a fall of roof last December 5 and died on April 20.
1905
James Bennett, a deputy age 46 was hit by runaway tubs and taken to Clayton Hospital where he died soon after.
George Eccles, a collier of Pontefract age 53 died in Clayton Hospital after being buried by a fall of roof.
John Henry Barnett, a miner of Pontefract age 30 was killed by  fall of roof.
Alfred Flockton, a collier age 36 of Castleford was killed by a fall of coal.
 John Beach, a hanger-on age 34 of Granville Street was killed when he was standing on the sump boards and was hit by the cage.
1906
John Turner, a haulage lad age 18 slipped and fell on the rails and was run over by tubs. He died four days later in Pontefract Infirmary.  
1907
Alfred Rigg, a byeworker age 24 of Gladstone Terrace was injured by a large stone which fell from the roof and he died the next day in Clayton Hospital.
John Hill, a collier age 33 of Pretoria Street was killed by a fall of roof.
Charles Wheatley Patrick, a collier age 57 was killed when he was crushed by runaway tubs.
1908
Bernard Maurice Westbrook, a pony driver age 16 of Cowards Buildings was found dead after being run over by a full tub.
Benjamin Parker, a collier age 49 of Purston was killed by a fall of roof.
Samuel Morton, a collier age 50 was injured when a pot hole (a fossilised tree trunk) fell on him on July 29. He died on August 7.
James Hamer, a filler (trainee collier) age 21 of Albert Street was hit by a fall of roof on December 9 which fractured his spine. He was taken to Clayton Hospital where he died on December 18.
1909
James Turton Haggas, a miner of Crossley Street was killed by a fall of stone.
J W Machin, a pony driver age 17 died when he was crushed between two runs of tubs. 
1910
Thomas Lyman, a deputy age 54 was killed by a fall of roof. 
1911
John William Alder,  a collier age 31 was killed by a fall of roof. 
Enoch Llewellyn, a pony driver age 14 stumbled into the side of the roadway and a sharp stone cut his throat and severed his trachea and carotid artery. 
Joseph Slater, a byworker age 57 was hit by runaway tubs.
John Barnett, a collier age 59 of Lord Street was killed by a fall of coal.
William Wilks, a collier age 44 of Thorntons Buidings was killed by a fall of roof. 
1912
Archie Roberts, a pony driver age 18 was run over by a full tub on April 19 and died September 25.
Julius Connell,  a byworker age 43 of Pontefract was killed by a fall of roof.
John Barrett, a byworker age 23 was killed by a fall of roof. 
1913
Charles Evans, a collier age 28 of Streethouse was killed by a fall of roof.
Patrick Cain, a collier age 40 was injured by a fall of coal on 11 April and died 24 November.
Samuel Hudson, a collier age 40 was killed by a fall of roof.
Arhur Spencer, a washery assistant age 17 of Hall Street, Purston, was oiling a creeper and was caught by the machinery and killed.
Charles Ward,  a pony driver age 19 was run over by a full tub on 2 October and died 18 February 1914. 
1914
Thomas Lakin, a byworker age 58 was killed by a fall of roof.
William Dunmore, a collier age 33 was killed by a fall of coal.
Edward Hughes, a collier age 51 was killed by a fall of coal and roof.
1915
George William Pearson, a collier age 31 was killed by a fall of coal. 
1916
Thomas Toplis, a pony driver age 17 of Church Lane was found dead under a full tub. 
1917 
 John Martin Rowett, age 57 of Pretoria Street and Levi Walters, age 31 of Ackworth Road, Purston, were killed by a fall of roof.
John William Betteridge, age 24 of Sharlston was killed by a fall of roof.
Joseph Gibson, age 40 was killed by a fall of roof. 
1919
Harry Hillyard, a collier age 38 was injured when a fall on 6 February fractured his spine and he died five months later.
Alfred Hozier Morgan, a collier age 29 was killed by a fall of roof.    
1920
Benjamin Firnstone, age 66 of Leeds Terrace was crushed by tubs.
Joseph Heaton,  a byeworker age 59 of Ivy Street was killed by a fall of roof.
John Lakin, a deputy age 66 of Featherstone Lane was found dead under a run of tubs.
1922
George Herbert Cooper, a rope lad age 15 was run over by tubs.
1923
John Jukes, a deputy age 64 of Victoria Street was injured by a fall or roof and died the same day in Clayton Hospital.
Thomas Birchall, a collier age 36 fractured his leg when a tub ran over it and he died from gangrene a week later. 
1924
Richard Blackham, a collier age 38 of Farm Road was injured by a fall of roof on 29 May and died 2 July from septicemia in Clayton Hospital.
James Backhouse, an assistant banksman age 29 of Moor Road attempted to stop the cage pulling a tub into the shaft and he fell down the shaft.

1925
Gilbert Scholefield, a ropeman age 25 of Housley Terrace, North  Featherstone, was crushed between tubs and died when he was released. 
Michael Jean O'Connor, a collier age 41 of "Heathfield", Purston, was buried by a fall on 12 January and taken to Clayton Hospital where he died on 21 January.
John Wright, a ripper age 25 of Featherstone Lane was killed by a fall of roof.
George White, a collier age 32 of Purston Terrace was hit by a fall of coal and died from a fractured skull.
Friend Brook, a byeworker age 63 of Gordon Street was hit on his foot by a falling piece of stone in March. He died 25 July from traumatic gangrene.
Calvert Hewitt, a collier age 54 of Purston Buildings was hit by a fall of roof and died before he could be taken out of the pit.
 
1926
Joseph Herrington, age 41 of Dixon Street injured his thumb on 13 January and died 10 days later of toxaemia in Pontefract Infirmary.
1927
Frederick Cecil Round, age 20 of Pontefract was killed by a fall of roof.
James Sephton, a collier age 37 of North Featherstone Lane was injured by a fall of roof and died seven days later in Pontefract Infirmary.
William Baxter,  a collier age 71 of Victoria Street was killed by a fall of roof.
Victor Brant, a haulage worker age 25 of Crossley Street was crushed by an overturned tub and taken to Pontefract Infirmary where he died shortly after..
1928
Harry Bishop, age 33 of Kimberley Street was hit on the head by a piece of wood thrown up by a circular saw. He was taken to Pontefract Infirmary and died the same day.
Richard Bernard Pollard, a blacksmith age 35 of Halfpenny Lane was guiding the winding rope onto the drum when he fell and was crushed by the rope.
1929
Edmund Backhouse, a dataller age 52 of Aketon Villas, North Featherstone, had his head cut by a falling stone on 21 November 1928 and died from pyraemia in Pontefract General Infirmary on 26 February.

Thomas Shaw age 58 suffered spinal injuries from a fall of roof in January 1926. He died in Wakefield Mental Hospital 4 November 1929. The inquest jury decided it was death by misadventure.
1930
Matthew George Killingbeck, a by-worker age 43 of Claytons Buildings, had a head injury on 10 March caused by a fall of roof. After his return to work he hit his head in the same place against a girder on 20 June. He was admitted to Pontefract Infirmary on 1 July and died from meningitis on 8 July. The inquest jury decided the blows to the head caused the meningitis.
Eliis Barnard, a pony driver age 22 of Streethouse was found dead trapped under a full tub of coal.
1932
Ambrose Webster, age 55 was injured by a fall of roof on 5 October and was taken to Pontefract Infirmary where he died 19 October from pneumonia.. 
1936
James Dyas, age 18 of Featherstone Square fractured his spine in a fall of roof in October 1934. He died in April this year and the inquest jury decided his death was because of the accident. 

FATAL ACCIDENT OUTSIDE THE PIT YARD
 1929
Alfred Glassby, age 69 of Earle Street was coal picking on the muckstack when he was hit by a lump of stone during tipping operations. He suffered a broken and dislocated ankle and died in hospital from gangrene
1931
William Prust, age 57 of Carlton Street was on the muckstack for coal picking. He was hit on the head by a wagon door. He walked home but became unconscious and died the next day in Pontefract Infirmary.