SURFACE WALK – Those attending the first meet of the year were a mixture of those knowledgeable about the coal mining in the Talkin area, and those who are very, very, very knowledgeable of the area. Although the meet was entitled “Lord Carlisle’s Railways”, the hero of the area’s mines was James Thompson. He had worked for Lord Carlisle and then, in 1838, he took over the leases for coal and limestone in the area.
He was a visionary and a polymath. He could see when it was worth investing in infra-structure and how different industries could work together. He mined. He built locomotives. He developed brickworks. He made – and sold – drain pipes, cast iron fireplaces and ornamental ironwork. He bought Stephenson’s “Rocket” from the Liverpool/Manchester railway, repaired her, adjusted her pistons and generally fettled her up for a useful life at Gairs Colliery.