This colliery at Clifton was a very important producer and appears to have been commenced by the Clifton & Kersley Coal Co. around 1872. At a ceremony on 6 August 1875, Alfred Pilkington inaugurated the sinking of No.1 Pit to the Doe Mine. The shaft was 16ft diameter with a depth of 442 yards. No.2 Pit was sunk to win the Trencherbone Mine and like No.1 was 16ft diameter. The third or No.3 Pit was 18ft diameter and was the ventilation up cast shaft.

As sunk No.2 Pit had a depth of 574 yards but was deepened to 635 yards in 1912-13, the deepening actually being carried out by raising from the chosen bottom landing level. A preliminary tunnel had to be driven to the bottom level before raising could commence. This method has the advantage that the existing pit bottom arrangements are not interfered with during the work and coal winding can continue without interruption.

For the start of operations Messrs Clayton, Goodfellow of Blackburn supplied two sets of winding engines in 1873. The No.1 or Doe Pit engine was a twin cylinder horizontal 33.25in x 72in, with Cornish double beat valves and Daglish’s Patent valve gear. Reversing was by Allan’s Straight Link motion. The winding drum was slightly conical 17ft 6in to 17ft 10in and was staked on to the crankshaft. The engine was in use until 1957 although for many years No.1 Pit had been used for pumping only and the engine’s duties were very light. Fracture of a crankshaft bearing pedestal ended the engine’s career. The accident took place whilst the pumping deputy was being wound out of the pit, but fortunately the wind was almost complete and it was possible to effect his rescue by ladder.

The No.2 Pit engine had twin cylinders 26in x 60in but it seems likely that production soon outstripped the capabilities of this engine for in 1879 Clayton, Goodfellow supplied a much larger engine with twin cylinders 38in x 72in. This engine also had Cornish valves and a conical winding drum 17ft to 20ft diameter. The winding depth in the deepened shaft was 631 yards and the engine could wind 132 tons per hour with a payload of 3.1 tons. A balance rope was fitted under the cages. This engine was in continuous use for coal winding until 1955 when it was replaced by an electric winding engine erected in a new house on the opposite side of the shaft.

After the formation of Manchester Collieries Ltd in 1929 a considerable programme of improvements was initiated. No.3 Pit was deepened to 630 yards and completely re-equipped for man-riding. A new reinforced concrete headgear was erected in 1932 and other works at the pit top included a new winding engine house, fan housing, air lock and the installation of a second hand twin cylinder horizontal winding engine. The engine was built by Wood & Gee of Wigan and had cylinders 26in x 54in. The winding drum was 10ft 6in diameter by 8ft wide. This engine was replaced by an electric winder in the same house in 1954.

The origin of the No.3 Pit winding engine is not known. A possible candidate is engine Nos.996/7, built in 1901 for T. & H.T. Scowcroft who operated Tonge Colliery, Bolton. This colliery had closed in 1930 and was formally abandoned in 1932.

Electrical power was purchased from the Lancashire Electric Power Co. but there was a substantial air compressing plant at the colliery. The main compressor was a Hick, Hargreaves 10,000cfm mixed pressure turbine set. Two Belliss & Morcom high speed engine sets of capacity 3000cfm each were also installed and in addition there was an 1800cfm single cylinder Ingersoll compressor. The general use of compressed air underground ceased in the early 1950s and with the exception of one of the Belliss & Morcom compressors all the steam driven plant was scrapped. For normal service supplying the cage decking gear a small electrically driven compressor now sufficed.

Steam was supplied to the colliery plant by a range of 10 Lancashire boilers with a working pressure of 100psi and provided with a 320 tube Green’s economiser. Four of the boilers had superheaters. A corrugated iron roof covered the whole of the boiler plant. The boilers were served by an octagonal section chimney 150 feet high with an ornamental bell mouth top. This chimney in true colliery manner poured out thick black smoke at frequent intervals and as it was on the edge of a thickly populated area was a frequent source of complaint.

Bridgewater Collieries purchased Newtown Colliery as a going concern in 1925. Newtown still had accessible reserves but it also seems to be more than possible that the colliery was purchased with a view to controlling the water which was known to exist north of the barrier that was supposed to protect the Sandhole Colliery workings. Very quickly after the purchase, rising headings and boreholes were driven from the Newtown Cannel Mine to the Trencherbone Mine of the abandoned Clifton Moss Colliery. This was to drain the water in a controlled manner to Newtown Colliery and pump it away there. An impressive number of powerful electric pumps were installed at Newtown.

Prior to 1929 areas of coal north, west and south of the shafts had been worked and after 1929 Manchester Collieries Ltd made considerable efforts to exploit further reserves to the south. The pit bottom layout at No.2 Pit was improved and the work at No.3 Pit has already been mentioned. Two new roadways 1200 yards long were driven through old goaf areas so that new workings could be opened up. A new 10 inch diameter compressed air main was put into No.2 shaft to improve compressed air distribution. During the Second World War however the colliery ceased to pay costs and Manchester Collieries wished to close it until it could be re-developed under the Mosley Common combined mine scheme. Because of the war situation the then Ministry of Fuel & Power would not allow closure. The Ministry agreed to meet excess of expenditure over revenue provided that strict economies in working were carried out. Under these arrangements, working in the Trencherbone Mine ceased in 1945 and the Victoria Mine was developed. A mechanisation scheme for the Doe Mine was devised and special care was needed in working this coal as it was very liable to spontaneous combustion at Newtown.

Subsequent to Nationalisation the Plodder Mine was developed and this was the deepest seam worked at the colliery. Cutter-loader machines were employed and heavy duty scraper chain conveyors (panzers) were used on the faces in conjunction with the cutter-loader machines. By 1956 the Plodder was the only seam being worked and with a total workforce of 818 about 7000 tons per week were being produced. The combined mine scheme never came to fruition but in 1956 a tunnel was driven to Wheatsheaf Colliery and coal winding was concentrated there. A steel plate conveyor system replaced endless rope brow haulage.

Ventilation at Newtown Colliery was by a Schiele fan, 12 feet diameter by four feet wide. The design rating was 80,000 cubic feet per minute at three inch water gauge but in 1946 it was actually circulating 120,000cfm at 2.2 inch water gauge. Drive to the fan was by a 100 horse power AC motor. The colliery latterly was also connected to Sandhole Colliery and was partially ventilated from there also.

By the mid-1950s, the Schiele fan had become inadequate and it was necessary to install booster fans underground. A new AEREX centrifugal fan was put into service in 1957 which was capable of generating a ventilating pressure of seven inch water gauge.

Coal preparation at Newtown Colliery was by screening only, any coal requiring further treatment by washing being sent to the coal washing plant at Outwood Colliery. The screening plant had been erected by Plowright Bros. and was capable of handling 166 tons per hour. Situated in the Irwell Valley near to the Manchester-Bolton railway line at Robin Hood sidings, an inclined tub-way was used to transport coal from the pit-head. This operated on the endless chain system with loose X-clips dropped over the tub end sheets engaging with the links of the chain. Although the gradient was in favour of the coal there was some uphill traffic in materials and coal for the landsale yard at the colliery. Motive power was needed and this was provided by a steeple engine. Problems could occur in icy weather with the chain slipping on the drive wheel. A clip drum was installed in 1932 which gripped the chain and at the same time an electric drive was provided. About 1950, the chain was replaced by an endless wire rope on the over-rope system.

With the commissioning of the new coal preparation plant at Mosley Common Colliery, the Robin Hood screening plant was gradually run down, with run-of-mine coal being sent to Mosley Common for processing. When the underground link between Newtown and Wheatsheaf colliery was brought into use, coal winding was concentrated at the latter. The use of Robin Hood screens and the tub-way had ceased by November 1957.

Newtown Colliery continued in production until April 1961 and following closure the surface buildings were quickly demolished with the exception of the pithead baths which had been erected in 1936. It was hoped that this building could be put to other uses but the building remained unused and was demolished in turn in 1969.

The age old problem of water in Clifton and Kearsley did not go away and to prevent this water from flowing towards the newly re-constructed Agecroft Colliery in the Irwell Valley an automatically controlled submersible pump was placed in Newtown No.2 Pit which was left open for this purpose. Agecroft Colliery itself closed in 1990 and the sole remaining function of Newtown was rendered redundant.


Ft Ins
Binn Mine 517 9
Shuttle Mine 601 6
Four Feet Mine 632 8
Little Mine 659 11
Rams Mine 752 6
White Mine 1056 9
Black Mine 1160 0
Doe Mine 1343 11½
Five Quarters Mine 1376 10
Hell Hole Mine (Victoria Mine) 1481 6
Trencherbone Mine 1654 11
Dye House Mine 1686 2
Shaft Bottom 1722 9*

* Shaft subsequently deepened to 1881 feet

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