The drifts here were driven by the Deerplay Colliery Co. in 1894/5 and worked the Lower Mountain and Little Mines. The return drift was 368 metres long at 1 in 3½, and the intake drift was 455 metres at 1 in 6. Deerplay’s workings were drained by a water-loose into Black Clough, and it was worked with Black Clough Colliery between 1915 and February 1940, when the latter was temporarily closed.
Before nationalisation, Deerplay employed from 29 to 46 men underground and around eight on the surface. It was temporarily closed in April 1941.
The NCB began refurbishing Deerplay in 1948 and it re-opened in 1951/2. The earlier workings were all to the west of the drifts and the Coal Board’s faces were to the east of them. It was a much larger venture than under the Deerplay Colliery Co. Ltd, with an average of 143 men underground and 15 on the surface between 1952 and 1967. During that time ten advancing longwall faces, were worked, the last of them being in the area left unworked on the closure of Hill Top. A short tunnel from one face linked Deerplay to Hill Top after the latter’s closure.
The last face line, dated 27/11/1967, was approaching the caution zone around abandoned Hill Top workings, but NCB lists give the closure date as March 1968. The mine was abandoned March 22nd and so may have closed at the end of the preceding November, leaving four months for scavenging work. It may also be that consideration was being given to setting off another face before deciding on closure instead.
The colliery’s approach road survives on top of an embankment and for many years after closure was incongruous in having concrete lamp standards in an otherwise remote and dark location. Unfortunately, only the lamp at the entrance gate off the A671 now survives. The colliery site has become a series of lagoons for settling and filtering ochreous water which issues from the drift. Hitherto, the River Irwell was polluted from its very source!
- Nadin, J. 1997 The Coal Mines of East-Lancashire (British Mining No.58, NMRS)