The single shaft at this small colliery, owned Thomas Butterworth, was 203 metres deep to the Royley Mine. The Neddy coal, above the Royley, was also worked. It was sunk around 1840, and the death of a surface worker was reported in February 1845. As was then common, the shaft was divided in two by a brattice which ran from top to bottom. One side was the downcast and the other the upcast. When in motion, the winding engine drove a three foot diameter fan, which forced air into the workings. At other times water raised from the workings was turned back down the shaft to move the air. Such waterfalls, or water blasts, were common at relatively shallow mines.

In 1850 work began on sinking a new, downcast shaft and a new 2.7 metre diameter fan, for this shaft, had been ordered. The shaft was only around 36 metres deep on October 9th, however, when an explosion in the Royley (Riley) Mine killed 16 men and boys. The pillar and stall workings in the latter ran 55 metres north and 130 metres south from the shaft. The seam was around 1.5 metres thick and the stalls were 2.5 metres wide with one metre square pillars.

The size of the workforce is unknown, but a report of the explosion of October 9th 1850 mentions that 42 men and boys had gone underground. There was a tremendous thunderstorm on the day of the explosion, suggesting low atmospheric pressure which was letting firedamp flow from the coal. Around 1.15 pm a rush of wind was heard coming up the shaft, and people ran to help. A rescue party was lowered down the shaft, but found the air unbreathable before reaching the bottom and withdrew. A second attempt, an hour or so later, found the last seven metres or so to be a mass of tangled timber and brattice cloth. Two rescuers were able to worm their way through the blockage and made a start sending injured men to the surface. Eventually they too were driven out by foul air, but subsequent attempts showed that sixteen miners had died.

Six years later the owner, Thomas Butterworth, was taken to court by the Inspector of Mines because, contrary to the law, had not employed a fireman. It was part of the latter’s job to examine the workings for firedamp and other hazards at the start of every day. He was fined £2 and costs.

The colliery closed around 1866 or 67 and the shafts were said to have been filled up around 1869.


  • NMRS Records, Gazetteer of British Collieries
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