Chanters Colliery was commenced in 1854 on a very old site upon which coal mining had been carried out over previous centuries. Chanters ‘Gold Pit’ is said to have been an engine pit which had ceased operations before 1800. The name came from the discovery of gold coins of the reign of Charles I together with the plates from which they had been punched. The Chanters Colliery of our period had no such claim to fame but it did have a long and successful productive career.

The colliery had two shafts both of which had been sunk to the Trencherbone Mine by the early 1890s. Shortly afterwards both shafts were deepened to reach the Arley Mine. No.1 shaft was 14 feet diameter, lined in brickwork and was the downcast shaft for the colliery. The shaft intersected the following seams from the surface:

Ft Ins
Crumbouke Mine 140 6
Brassey Mine 208 0
Six Feet Mine (a) 280 3
Seven Feet Mine (b) 594 7
Yard Mine (c 918 4
Four Foot Mine (d) 1003 1
Trencherbone Mine 1121 8
Yard Mine (through fault on west side) 1470 0
Ravine Mine (e) 1576 4
Bone Mine 1609 5
Smith Mine 1826 0
Arley Mine 1832 3
    1. Six Feet – Rams Mine
    2. Seven Feet – Black & White Mine
    3. Yard – Five Quarters
    4. Four Foot – Hell Hole or Victoria Mine
    5. Ravine Mine – Plodder Mine


The Yard and Four Foot mines take their names from the Hindley Green Yard and Hindley Green Four Foot mines respectively. The Trencherbone was at one time known in this area as the (Hindley Green) Five Foot. To confuse the issue the ‘Yard Mine’ seen through the fault was the Haigh Yard Mine and not the one otherwise known as the Five Quarters.

The first winding engine to be installed at No.1 pit was built by J. Musgrave & Sons of Bolton in 1854. It was of the twin cylinder horizontal type, the cylinders being 24in x 48in. Steam distribution was by slide valves placed at the sides of the cylinders. Two winding drums were fitted, each being conical and arranged in ‘Diabolo’ manner with the smaller diameter nearest the middle of the crankshaft. The small diameter was 12ft increasing to 14ft at the outside. In the centre of the crankshaft was a 16ft diameter brake drum fitted with a foot operated mechanical brake. The brake system was designed by Mr Orchard, the colliery mechanical engineer. Two cages were wound in the shaft, each cage having two decks carrying two tubs per deck. Two timber conductors were provided to guide each cage.

A pumping engine was located near the top of No.1 pit, this engine driving two flat rods through a countershaft geared down from the crankshaft in the ratio 3 to 1. Bell cranks or angle bobs were placed at the shaft top operating two vertical pump rods in the shaft itself. The engine raised water from the Seven Feet Mine by 11 inch bucket pumps and from the Rams Mine to the surface by 15 inch bucket pumps. The engine was horizontal non-condensing with a single cylinder 24in x 48in. It was built by J. Musgrave & Sons of Bolton in 1861 and was known as ‘John Bull’. The engine was in service until 1933.

Steam was supplied to the winding and pumping engines by three Lancashire boilers, 7ft x 28ft, working at 55psi. They were made by Musgraves and worked until 1904. An octagonal chimney 122 feet high served the boilers and also their successors.

In 1904, the original winding engine and boilers were replaced. The winding engine was again of the twin cylinder horizontal type built by Fraser & Chalmers of Erith, Kent and was one of several by this maker installed at Lancashire collieries during the early part of the 1900s. The cylinders were 24in x 54in fitted with Corliss valves and a Whitmore overwind/overspeed gear, a Fraser & Chalmers standard safety appliance was provided. As built the engine was fitted with a stepped winding drum one side being 13ft 1in and the other side 10 feet diameter. Winding was from the Five Feet or Trencherbone at 1119 feet and the (Haigh) Yard Mine at 1455 feet depth. To even out the loading on the engine the cage on the small side of the drum was made 28 cwt heavier than the other. The cages had three decks, each deck carrying two 10 cwt tubs. Because of the presence of pump rods in the shaft, space was rather restricted and rigid timber guides were used. A new headgear of lattice steel construction was erected at this time.

At a later date in connection with development of the Haigh Yard Mine by Manchester Collieries Ltd winding was concentrated at the Yard Mine level and a parallel winding drum 13ft diameter by 10ft 4in wide was then fitted to the engine. Thus modified the engine was capable of winding 111 tons per hour.

A capstan engine was provided at the shaft, a twin cylinder horizontal 12in x 24in with a 4ft 6in x 2ft 6in drum.

To serve the winding engine and other new plant, new boilers were installed and during the Manchester Collieries era there was a range of 8ft x 30ft Lancashire boilers eight in number, having a working pressure of 100psi. A Green’s economiser with 480 vertical tubes was fitted in the main flue. The boilers were hand fired and had rocker bar firegrates. Boiler feed was by four direct-acting, vertical ‘Simplex’ pumps, one being made by Frank Pearn of Manchester and the other three by G. & J. Weir of Cathcart. Feed water was made up of local surface water plus surface and pit water obtained from Brackley Colliery at Little Hulton. Treatment was by conditioning within the boilers using ‘Southwell Compound’.

The No.1 pit winding engine and boilers remained in service until about 1956 when an electric winder was installed and the steam plant was scrapped.

Originally Chanters No.2 pit was used entirely for ventilation and emergency purposes, ventilation being by furnace. The winding engine was a single cylinder horizontal 18in x 36in, geared in the ratio 4: 1 to a countershaft carrying two winding drums. Steam was supplied by four Cornish boilers 5ft x 28ft having a working pressure of 50psi.

A main underground haulage engine was installed in 1888. This was located near the top of No.2 pit, the haulage ropes passing down the shaft guided by sheave pulleys. The engine was a twin cylinder horizontal built by the local firm Greenhalgh & Co., New Foundry, Atherton. The cylinders were 20in x 48in fitted with ‘Cornish’ double-beat valves on inlet and exhaust. Cut-off could be varied from 33% to 50% of the piston stroke. Two winding drums seven feet diameter and a brake drum 11 feet diameter were fitted. The braking system was foot operated and of the same type as fitted to the old No.1 pit winding engine. This engine was removed at a now unknown date. Steam to the engine when installed was supplied by the four Cornish boilers.

In 1896 the No.2 pit was deepened to reach the Arley Mine and up-graded to be a coal winding shaft. The old winding engine and Cornish boilers were replaced. The new engine was a twin cylinder horizontal built by Greenhalgh & Co. with 28in x 60in cylinders. Steam distribution was by ‘Cornish’ double beat valves operated by Gooch link motion. Governor controlled trip gear was fitted to the inlet valves. Inlet and exhaust valves were arranged in chests at each end of the cylinders but unusually they were side by side at right angles to the centre line of the cylinders instead of one behind the other parallel to the cylinder centre lines as is more usual practice. Initially a conical winding drum was fitted 16ft-20ft diameter but no details survive as to its arrangement. The ‘Diabolo’ arrangement with the large diameter at the outsides was, however, common at the time. Subsequently this was replaced by a parallel drum 19ft 9in diameter by 8ft 3in. wide. As at No.1 pit, a ‘Whitmore’ overwind/overspeed gear was fitted to the engine and post brakes engaged with a brake path on each side of the drum.

The headgear was of RSJ and lattice girder construction with air locks at the surface. The two cages were guided by steel wire ropes weighted at the bottom, four to each cage. As part of the development of the Five Quarters Mine by Manchester Collieries when the Arley Mine was approaching exhaustion, a new ‘pit bottom’ was laid out at 345 yards from the surface. This work was completed in 1941. From this level and fitted with the parallel drum the engine could wind 144 tons per hour. The cages had two decks each deck carrying two 12cwt tubs.

Skip winding was introduced at the shaft after Nationalisation, the installation being completed in 1955. The scheme was ingenious and involved tunnelling beneath the fan drift, winding engine and part of the boiler plant so that coal could be transported by conveyor direct from the skip discharge point to the screening plant. In this form the shaft continued to wind coal until closure of the colliery.

Steam was supplied to the winding engine by a range of Lancashire boilers, the final complement being seven. Working pressure was 100psi and a 352 tube set of Green’s economisers was fitted in the main flue. Throughout the Manchester Collieries era the boilers were hand fired with rocker firebars. Boiler feed water was obtained from the same sources as No.1 pit and three direct acting Weir ‘Simplex’ pumps were provided. The boilers were served by a circular section chimney 136 feet high which was fitted with a powerful induced draught fan at the base. The products of combustion were lifted several feet clear of the chimney top.

Coincidentally with the installation of the Greenhalgh winding engine the ventilation furnace was replaced by a fan. This was a 45ft diameter ‘Waddle’ type with a capacity of 200,000 cubic feet per minute circulated against a mine resistance of 3.25 inch water gauge when running at 50rpm. The fan had a belled-out or evasee rim to improve its efficiency. A single cylinder horizontal engine provided the motive power. The engine was 28in x 48in with Corliss valves built by Musgrave & Sons of Bolton in 1896 and was designed to develop 175 indicated horse-power at 60rpm. The inlet valves were fitted with trip gear. The engine was direct coupled to the fan which also acted as the flywheel.

In 1933 a ‘Sirocco’ fan was installed direct coupled to a Browett-Lindley high speed enclosed engine. By vesting date the fan had been converted to electric drive with a 350hp AC motor. The fan was made by Davidson of Belfast and was 8ft 2in diameter by 6ft 10in wide. It was designed to circulate 200,000cfm against 4in water gauge although in 1946 was circulating 220,000cfm at 4ft 3in water gauge. The Waddle fan and engine which were still in good condition were retained as standby.

During the developments of the early 20th century an air compressing plant was installed. This was built by Fraser & Chalmers and comprised a cross-compound engine coupled to two-stage air cylinders by the piston tail rods. The steam cylinders were 21in and 36in bore and the air cylinders 20in and 33in. The capacity was 3650 cu ft free air per minute delivered at 70psi with the engine running at 75rpm. The common stroke of the steam and air cylinders was 48in. The engine was fitted with a Whitmore combined air and speed governor.

A second air compressor was installed in 1910. This again was a cross-compound engine with two-stage air cylinders and was rated at 4000cfm at 70rpm. It was built by J. Musgrave & Sons, Bolton and had 25in + 45in x 42in steam cylinders with Corliss valves, and 25in + 40in x 42in air cylinders. The flywheel was 16ft diameter, weighing 18 tons. Indicated horse-power at full speed was 610 steam being taken at 100psi.

The air compressing capacity was further increased in 1932 by the installation of a third engine. This had a capacity of 4000cfm and was built by Walker Bros., Wigan. Again it was a cross-compound with two-stage air cylinders.

Because of the progressive introduction of electric power underground the air-compressing load diminished greatly in later years. By the end of 1946 it was down to 5% of former requirements and the large engines were subsequently scrapped.

Chanters Colliery was an early user of electricity and the surface and pit bottom roadways were electrically lit using direct current by 1892. The generating plant consisted of two dynamos, one by Mather & Platt and the other by Edison-Swan of Manchester. Either of these machines could be coupled by flat leather belts to a 9in x 12in twin cylinder inverted vertical engine made by Tangye of Birmingham. The engine had a 5ft flywheel and ran at 150rpm. The dynamos had 10in pulleys giving a speed of 900rpm.

Further electrification on the direct current system subsequently took place and two generating sets were installed of 250kW and 100kW with Browett-Lindley high speed vertical enclosed engines. Later a British Thomson-Houston 500kW mixed pressure turbine generating set was installed. Current was generated at 550 volts.

During the Manchester Collieries era the colliery electrical plant was converted to use alternating current. This supply was purchased from the Lancashire Electric Power Co. To augment this supply a feeder was also brought in from Bedford Colliery, the cable passing down Bedford No.3 shaft and thence via underground roadways to Chanters.

The generators, air compressors and fan engines exhausted to condensers. To cater for the 1932 Walker air compressor a new condenser was installed and in addition a new condensing plant was provided for the Musgrave fan engine. For cooling there was a timber cooling tower. Part of this was blown down in a gale in 1934 and had to be rebuilt.

Chanters Colliery had an enviable reputation for the high quality of management and mining techniques. Such was the success of the colliery that under the ownership of Manchester Collieries Ltd the ‘take’ was extended to include areas formerly allocated to Bedford, St George’s, Nook and Mosley Common collieries. From 1938 to 1946 extensive underground development work was carried out. This included the making of a new pit bottom at No.1 pit at the 486 yard level. Electrically powered haulages for coal and man riding of 250hp and 100hp respectively were installed as part of the scheme. Particular attention was paid to the development of the (Haigh) Yard Mine and this involved the drivage of some 2.75 miles of underground roadways to St George’s colliery, this work being completed in 1946. Other extensive developments were carried out in the Five Quarters Mine at No.2 pit in order to replace the Arley Mine which was approaching exhaustion.

Ventilation was good at the colliery and by 1946 all coal face machinery was electrified. Haulages had also been electrified there being 28 of these up to 250 horse power. Similarly much of the pumping plant was also electrically powered. Electric pumps numbered nine ranging in power from six to 100 horse power. There were also two small ‘Mono’ pumps which were also electrically driven. Compressed air remained in use on some 45 subsidiary haulages and likewise on 16 small pumps.

The production of the colliery was generally in the order of 1750 tons per day, the actual winding capacity being 1850 tons. During the last year of Company operation the output was 417,125 tons, this being made up from 95,465 tons (Five Quarters), 151,935 tons (Victoria), and 169,725 tons (Yard). In 1939 501 men were employed on coal face work, with 358 others underground and 413 persons on the surface. In 1948 there were 963 employed underground and 458 on the surface. By 1957 the number of underground workmen had increased to 1,066 but surface employment was down to 265. The Plodder Mine was developed after Nationalisation and some of this output in large sizes was sold on contract to British Railways for use as locomotive fuel.

Coal preparation was by screening and washing, Heenan & Froude of Birmingham having erected a set of screens at No.1 pit in 1890. The pit top and tub handling arrangements were considerably mechanised in conjunction with the erection of the screening plant. Two steam engines were used to drive the screening plant. With the upgrading of No.2 pit to coal winding in 1896, new screens were erected there also. A Coppee washing plant with felspar wash boxes capable of handling 80 tons per hour was built in 1901 and the screening plant was further improved in 1904. New screens were erected in 1927 by Ernest Newell & Co. Ltd. having a capacity of 350 tons per hour. At the same time a Baum jig washer was built which could process 50 tons per hour. The old Coppee washer was retained to supplement the Baum plant. All the new coal preparation plant was electrically driven.

Chanters Colliery continued in production until 1966, although latterly from No.2 pit only. After closure the surface buildings were quickly demolished although the land they had occupied was still derelict some twenty years later.


Ft Ins
Crumbouke Mine 74 6
Brassey Mine 141
Six Foot Mine 219 2
Seven Foot Mine (Black & White Mine) 532 2
Five Quarters Mine 834 3
Four Foot Mine 940 11
   (Hindley Green Four Foot = Hell Hole)
Cannel Mine 1112 10
King Coal Mine 1144 6
Ravine Mine (Plodder Mine) 1283 1
Yard Mine 1358 4
Bone Mine (Half Yard Mine) 1492 1
Smith Mine 1526 7
Arley Mine 1737 4
Shaft Bottom 1826 10

On the 6th March 1957 eight men died and 3 were injured in a methane explosion caused by an arc due to electricians working on live equipment. The full report can be found here.

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