North Staffordshire’s largest coal mine, it had a long and illustrious history. It’s unknown exactly when Whitfield’s first coal mine opened for business. As long back as 13th-century coal mining is concerned, some experts say.
South side of the Mines of Chatterley Whitfield Coal Mine
Hulton Abbey’s monks may have been mining coal as early as the 14th century, according to popular belief. In 1750, there were more significant mining activity at this location.
Chatterley Whitfield Coal Mine alternative view
Thomas Hargreaves began his investigation of Whitfield’s coal supply in 1838. The engine house, carpenter’s workshop, and brick factory were all constructed during this time period.
Local resident Hugh Henshall Williamson, who lived not far from Greenway Bank Hall 12 years later, became active in the area’s mining endeavors. This man was probably one among the first to use the shafts that were discovered on the site, even though his exact occupation is unknown.
Chatterley Whitfield Coal Mine photographed from the nearby hill
After Williamson’s work was completed, a number of shafts were widened and deepened. It was in 1860 that the Biddulph Valley Railway was built, extending the mining of coal even further.
Tubes and ropes were the sole means by which miners could descend into the mines as they grown deeper over time. Coal was extracted from the same tubes. The task became more dangerous as the shafts grew longer.
Chatterley Whitfield Coal Mine
One big danger was the methane gas. At the time, miners used candles to light their way through the mine, which could start fires or explode if there was a leak of methane gas in a tunnel.
A group of people called the “Gentlemen of Tunstall” took over the mine after the death of Hugh Henshall Williamson. The first thing on their to-do list was to make the mines even deeper so that they could be even more powerful (particularly aiming at the Engine pit and the Ragman pit).
Steam Engine in Chatterley Whitfield Coal Mine
During this time, the tubes that were used to lower the miners were taken out and replaced with cages, which greatly improved the safety of the workers. As time went by, however, the company started to lose money, and the mine was bought by the Chatterley Iron Company Limited.
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The ventilator and the workshops.
A lot of mine shafts were getting bigger and deeper by now, and so the Chatterley Iron Company did just that: It widened the Bellringer shaft, which had been unused for a long time. Hugh Henshall Williamson used a mine shaft there. They even started to widen the mine shaft.
Photo of the Hesketh shaft.
Laura Homer, the daughter of Charles J. Homer, was the inspiration for the name of this shaft. Whitfield Mine, like many others, has had accidents related with it, and it is no exception. On the 7th of February in the year 1881, a particularly noteworthy event occurred.
The silhouette of the Hesketh tower
An underground blacksmith’s furnace exploded that day, killing 24 persons, due to the poor handling of the furnace. The force of the blast was so great that it brought the Laura Pit to its knees.
Set of traditional colliery buildings
The mine was severely affected by the Great Depression in the 1920s and 30s, but was able to recover at the onset of World War II. New factories, workshops, and improvements to mines totaled more than $250,000 throughout the course of the year.
The Chatterley Whitfield mine produced one million tons of coal per year in 1939, when it opened. The mines were reorganized considerably further following World War II, resulting in even greater efficiency.
The equipment above the Institute shaft.
In 1977, on March 25, the mine was officially shut down for the last time. One year later, it opened as a museum that attracted a lot of people every single year. It took a while for underground tours to be banned, because there was a risk of floods.
The former water tank.
Part of the mining structures remain today, while the rest has been converted into a public park following a multi-million pound investment.
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