The principal coal owners in this area to the north of Wigan were the Standish family. Resident here for several centuries in Standish Hall, members of the family received high honours from various Kings of England. Ralph Standish was knighted by Richard 11 for killing Wat. Tyler and other members of the family fought at Agincourt and in wars against Scotland. Later the family fell out of kingly favour as they remained staunchly Roman Catholic in spite of the activities of Henry VIII. Also the family supported the Jacobites during the early uprisings but by the time of the 1745 rebellion their support had evaporated. Imprisonments and forfeiture of the estates probably had an effect. Although the estates were later reinstated and the prisoners released due to intervention by very influential friends, the appetite for rebellion had disappeared.
From 1813, the principals of the Standish family spent increasing amounts of time in France, marrying wealthy French ladies in the process, and from 1825 Standish Hall was let to tenants. In 1921, the Hall and the estate were put up for auction. The Hall was withdrawn before the auction and subsequently sold to an American buyer who took down the oldest portion and re-erected it in the U.S.A. The rights to the coal under the estate were however retained and in 1933 these passed to the wife of Widor, composer and Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire and net annual income to Mme Widor was over £5000. Under the Coal Act of 1938 all rights to coal seams were vested in the State, this taking place on 1 July 1942. Madame Widor received over £100,000 compensation.
Coal and cannel mining on the Standish Estate developed rapidly from the late 18th. Century although coal had been worked quite extensively from the 14th. Century. In general, the Standish family did not work the coals themselves but leased out the working to individuals and partnerships. By the 1840s the many descendants of the original lessees had lost interest in the Standish collieries and one John Taylor, a Liverpool coal merchant, began to acquire the leases. This John Taylor must not be confused with the John Taylor of Cornish mining fame. Taylor subsequently sub-let the cannel to the Standish & Shevington Cannel Company of which John Lancaster and John Taylor Jnr were prominent partners. Following his acquisitions, John Taylor began to rapidly develop the collieries, sinking a number of new pits and working them in a systematic manner.
From December 1865 and January 1866, the Standish collieries were merged into the Wigan Coal & Iron Co. Ltd who were now the lessees and paid the royalties to the Standish family.
North of Standish, the first colliery at Coppull was probably sunk about 1835 by Thomas Hilton & Co. By about 1841 John Hargreaves had taken over followed by his son John Hargreaves Jnr. The colliery closed in 1862. The Hargreaves’s were involved in railway operations, working traffic under contract for the Bolton – Leigh, the Kenyon & Leigh Junction and the North Union railways. John Hargreaves purchased the Timothy Hackworth locomotive SANSPAREIL in 1832, a locomotive which had taken part in the Rainhill trials in 1829. It was converted into a pumping engine in 1844. Finally it was rescued by Benjamin Hick of Bolton in 1863, overhauled and placed in what is now the Science Museum, South Kensington.
Many further collieries were soon sunk in the Coppull district under a variety of owners with leases from numerous landlords. Changes of colliery ownerships were also numerous and many of the collieries had closed by 1880. As an example the curiously named Hicbibi Colliery was commenced in the early 1860s by T.R. Bourne who appears to have traded as the Coppull Hall Colliery Company. The Norley Hall Coal Company took over the colliery in 1866. In 1874 the Hilton House & Red Moss Coal & Cannel Co. Ltd was formed to take over Hicbibi, Ellerbeck and Hilton House (near Blackrod) collieries. Another company, the Hicbibi Coal & Cannel Co. Ltd was formed in 1876 to take over the Hilton House & Red Moss Coal & Cannel Co. Ltd. W.E. and Thomas Tomlinson held the controlling interest in this new company. The Hicbibi Coal & Cannel Co. Ltd was bankrupt in 1878. Ellerbeck Collieries Co. Ltd, again involving the Tomlinsons, was formed about 1880 to take over but Hicbibi had closed by 1888 and was offered for sale. There were no purchasers.
A name with greater continuity as a colliery proprietor was Darlington. John Darlington purchased the Clenkett estate in 1849 and sunk new pits at Welch Whittle around 1855. Another colliery, Blainscough was commenced about 1864. James Darlington was joined by Alfred Hewlett and the partners traded as the Blainscough Hall Colliery Company from the early 1870s. Perhaps true to form in the Coppull district Welch Whittle closed in 1880 but further developments took place at Blainscough with the sinking of two new shafts. Darlington and Hewlett formed the Blainscough Colliery Co. Ltd in 1891 and began development at the closed Welch Whittle Colliery completing two new shafts in 1894. The company and the revived Welch Whittle Colliery survived to Nationalisation and the colliery continued to work until 1960. Blainscough Colliery closed about 1934 and after a short period in other ownership working on a very small scale, the colliery was purchased by Manchester Collieries Ltd for its production quota.
The major and final sinking in the Coppull district was Chisnall Hall Colliery, commenced by the Pearson & Knowles Coal & Iron Co. Ltd in 1891. Coal was first wound here in 1900 and the colliery survived Nationalisation, closing in 1967.Return to previous page