This is an interactive map, please click on an area to see greater detail

This region had large areas of coal, ironstone, fireclay and ganister mining. From the lowest seam (Halifax Soft Bed) to the highest (Shafton) there are some forty seams, all of which have been worked to some extent. Generally speaking, the lower seams have higher ranks (carbon content) and are likely to be coking coals, whereas the higher ones are free-burning.

Ironstone occurs from Huddersfield to Bradford and on to north-east Leeds and is intimately linked with the Better and Black Bed Coals. An extensive network of tramways and railways linked the pits to large iron works, especially at Low Moor and Bowling, near Bradford. Isolated pieces of archaeology remain between housing, industrial estates etc.

Another important area of mining for coal measures (Tankersley) ironstone was around the village of Emley, in the south-eastern corner of the region. Some of these workings, which run into South Yorkshire, may be mediæval, but other may belong to the eighteenth century.

Isolated pockets of iron ore have been worked in Namurian rocks around Baildon and Keighley.

A small area of the Lancashire coalfield has been worked at Todmorden, where fireclay was also used for making sanitary ware, especially salt-glazed pipes. Around Halifax, fireclays were used for making sanitary wares (pipes, gulleys, sinks, WC’s etc), and ganister to make firebricks and other refractory products. Many collieries in the lower part of the middle coal measures, around Leeds and Wakefield, were associated with brickworks.

The switch from town to natural gas, the replacement of steam with diesel locomotives, clean air legislation and the change to generating electricity using oil or nuclear power in the late 1960s reduced markets and forced the National Coal Board to rationalise its mines. Many of the thinner seam mines were unsuitable for mechanisation and the fairly high ash, sulphur or chlorine contents of lower coal measures seams meant that their coal was unacceptable to the large, coal-fired electricity stations. As a result a swathe of older, shallower West Yorkshire mines closed from the late 1960s and production was concentrated to the east of the M1.

Many collieries were associated with canals or railways, some of which were pioneering developments. For example, the Middleton Railway, a private, horse-drawn colliery line near Leeds, was the world’s first railway line to be authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1758 when it was extended from the colliery to staithes near Leeds Bridge. Faced with a shortage of horses during the Napoleonic Wars, John Blenkinsop, the colliery manager, worked with local engineering firms to build a steam locomotive in 1812. The resulting loco, called Prince Regent, worked on a rack & pinion system developed to cope with steep gradients, was soon joined by a second loco, named Salamanca. Similarly, the Lake Lock Rail Road Company, formed in 1796, opened what was arguable the world’s first public railway, to the north-west of Wakefield, because it served more than one colliery owner and also carried goods for all comers.

Large areas of mined landscape have been cleared for housing, industrial estates and motorways since WWII. Coal has also been extensively opencasted between Leeds and Wakefield, destroying most traces of the former industry.

Kellingley, the last large colliery, closed in December 2015, bringing to an end hundreds of years of deep mining in England. The Gazetteer of British Coal Mines (in NMRS Records) lists some 1200 coal, clay & iron mines in Yorkshire from 1854 onwards. To these must be added a large number (unknown) of older pits.

As with other coalfields, various collections of photographs and reminiscences are available on the web. The pages of the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal contain a few papers on coal related matters. Apart from general memories of specific mines and strikes, the most recent general books are Goodchild’s West Yorkshire Coalfield and Williams’s Images of Yorkshire Coal.1,2 Hill’s The South Yorkshire Coalfield: A History and Development gives a good general overview, with some detail.3 John Goodchild has written over many years about the various coal owning/working dynasties in this coalfield. Henesey’s paper on the Garforth area is also useful.4 There has been some private research and at least one community archaeology report covering mining around Sheffield.5,6

The Selby coalfield, Britain’s newest, closed on October 26th 2004 when Riccall colliery stopped coaling, but no complete history of this project has been written. Kellingley Colliery, sunk between 1958 and 1962, closed in December 2015.

When the coal industry was nationalised in 1947, there were 156 collieries in Yorkshire; now there is just one. Pits to close since the millenium are: Prince of Wales (2002), Gascoigne Wood Drift (2004), Riccall (2004), Stillingfleet (2004), Wistow (2004), Rossington (2006), Maltby (2012), Hatfield (2015) & Kellingley (2015)

  1. Goodchild, J. West Yorkshire Coalfield (Stoud: Tempus, 2000)
  2. Williams, P. Images of Yorkshire Coal (Ashbourne: Landmark Publishing Co., 2005)
  3. Hill, A. The South Yorkshire Coalfield: A History and Development (Stoud: Tempus, 2002)
  4. Henesey, A. “The Gascoignes and the Garforth miners in the nineteenth century” British Mining No.90 (2010), pp.74-89
  5. Battye, R. The Forgotten Mines of Sheffield (Especially around the Upper Don, Loxley and Sheaf Valleys) (Sheffield: The author, 2004)
  6. Kennett, P. Mining & Quarrying in the Porter Valley: Delving into the Past (Unpublished report by the Friends of the Porter Valley, 2006)

 

Collieries after Nationalisation in 1947

Colliery Location Opened Closed
Ackton Hall Featherstone 1877 July 1985
Aldwarke Main Parkgate 1862 June 1961
Allerton Bywater Allerton Bywater 1854 March 1992
Allerton Main, Victoria Pit Swillington 1854 1947
Askern (Main) Askern 1911 December 1991
Barley Hall Thorpe Hesley 1886 May 1974
Barnborough Main Barnburgh 1911 1989
Barnburgh Barnburgh 1911 May 1989
Barnsley Main Stairfoot 1899 May 1966
Barnsley Main Stairfoot 1985 July 1991
Barrow Worsbrough Bridge 1873 May 1985
Bentley Bentley 1905 December 1993
Billingley Drift Darfield 1951 July 1956
Birkenshaw Birkenshaw 1910 (1954) Merged with Gomersal
Birley, Beighton Pit Beighton 1907 1947
Bramley Hall No.2 Handsworth 1938 1947
Brierley Brierley 1910 January 1947
Brodsworth Main Woodlands 1905 September 1990
Brookhouse Beighton 1929 October 1985
Bullcliffe Old Lane Bretton West 1925 1947
Bullcliffe Wood Bretton West 1948 August 1985
Bullcroft Main Carcroft 1908 (September (1970) Merged with Brodsworth
Cadeby Main Cadeby 1889 1986
Caphouse Overton 1828 October 1985
Combs Thornhill 1856 1971
Cortonwood Brampton 1873 October 1985
Crigglestone Crigglestone 1874 April 1968
Cross, Clay Kirkburton 1944 1947
Darfield Main Darfield 1858 July 1989
Darton Mapplewell 1869 August 1948
Dearne Valley Little Houghton 1900 March 1991
Denaby Main Denaby Main 1856 (March) (1968) Merged with Cadeby
Denby Grange Netherton 1854 August 1991
Denby Grange, Caphouse Overton 1828 October 1985
Dinnington (Main) Dinnington 1901 September 1991
Dodworth Dodworth 1855 June 1985
East Ardsley East Ardsley 1876 January 1968
Elsecar Elsecar 1905 October 1983
Emley Moor Emley 1948 December 1985
Ferrymoor Grimethorpe 1915 (April) (1973) See Ferrymoor Riddings
Ferrymoor Riddings South Kirkby 1973 March 1988
Fitzwilliam Main Fitzwilliam 1876 (July) (1967) Merged with South Kirkby
Frickley South Elmsall 1902 November 1993
Fryston Fryston 1873 December 1985
Gascoigne Wood Drift South Milford 1977 October 2004
Glasshoughton Glass Houghton 1863 March 1986
Goldthorpe Goldthorpe 1909 (March) (1968)
Gomersal Gomersal 1913 June 1973
Grange Kimberworth 1855 July 1962
Grange Ash Grange Moor 1871 August 1966
Greatfield Ossett 1913 September 1954
Gregory Spring Upper Hopton 1921 (August) (1962) Merged with Shuttle Eye
Grimethorpe Grimethorpe 1894 October 1992
Haigh Haigh 1862 August 1968
Handsworth Handsworth 1901 October 1967
Hartley Bank Netherton 1872 January 1968
Harworth Bircotes 1924 2006
Hatfield Main Stainforth 1911 June 2015
Hemsworth Fitzwilliam 1876 (July) (1967) Merged with South Kirkby
Hickleton Main Thurnscoe 1892 (January) (1986) Merged with Goldthorpe
High Hazels Nos 1 & 2 Darnall 1940 1947
Highgate Highgate 1916 (March) (1968)
Houghton Main Little Houghton 1873 December 1992
Howroyd Whitley Lower 1948 December 1962
Ingham Thornhill 1884 1947
Ingham, Bye Pit Thornhill 1884 1947
Kellingley Knottingley 1958 December 2015
Kendal Drift Barnsley September 1958
Kilnhurst Kilnhurst 1861 January 1986
Kinsley Drift Fitzwilliam 1978 July 1986
Kirkby Riddings South Kirkby 1987 March 1988
Kiveton Park Kiveton Park 1866 October 1994
Ledston Luck Kippax 1909 October 1986
Lepton Edge Lepton 1894 August 1964
Lofthouse Outwood 1873 July 1981
Maltby (Main) Maltby 1907 December 2012
Manor Wakefield 1861 December 1981
Manvers Main Wath upon Dearne 1868 March 1988
Markham Main Armthorpe 1916 September 1996
Middleton Broom Middleton 1888 May 1968
Mitchell Main Darfield 1871 July 1956
Monckton Main Nos.1, 2 & 5 Havercroft 1875 1947
Monckton Main Nos.3 & 4 Havercroft 1913 1947
Monk Bretton Monk Bretton 1867 April 1968
New Monckton Nos.1, 2 & 5 Royston 1948 1951
New Monckton Nos.1 & 2 Royston 1875 1966
New Monckton Nos.1, 2 & 6 Royston 1958 December 1966
New Monckton Nos.3 & 4 South Hiendley 1948 December 1966
New Stubbin Rawmarsh 1913 July 1978
Newmarket Stanley 1835 September 1983
Newmarket Silkstone Stanley 1835 September 1983
Newmillerdam Newmillerdam 1929 November 1981
North Gawber Mapplewell 1854 (December) (1985) Merged with Woolley
North Selby Escrick 1979 July 1997
Norwood Green Norwood Green 1929 April 1959
Nostell Nostell 1854 October 1987
Nunnery Sheffield 1860 August 1953
Old Roundwood Ossett 1853 April 1966
Orgreave Handsworth 1851 October 1981
Park Hill Stanley 1883 December 1982
Park Mill Clayton West 1877 (December) (1988)
Peckfield Micklefield 1888 December 1980
Primrose Hill Swillington 1947 March 1970
Prince of Wales Pontefract 1869 August 2002
Redbrook Barugh 1982 December 1987
Riccall Riccall 1978 October 2004
Riddings Drift South Kirkby 1969 (April) (1973) See Ferrymoor Riddings
Rockingham Hoyland 1873 November 1979
Rossington Main Rossington 1912 March 2006
Rotherham Main Rotherham 1890 May 1954
Rothwell Rothwell 1950 December 1983
Rothwell Haigh, Beeston Pit Rothwell 1870 1947
Rothwell Haigh, Fanny Pit Rothwell 1867 1949
Round Wood Ossett 1853 1966
Royston Drift Royston 1975 September 1989
Savile Mickleton 1873 August 1985
Sharlston Sharlston 1858 July 1993
Sharlston West Walton 1894 1953
Shaw Cross Dewsbury 1876 August 1968
Shuttle Eye Grange Moor 1856 April 1973
Silkstone Common Silkstone Common 1923 (January) (1961) Merged with Wentworth Silkstone
Silverwood Thrybergh 1899 December 1994
Smithy Wood Ecclesfield 1902 December 1972
Snydale Featherstone 1861 August 1965
South Elmsall South Elmsall 1924 (March) (1968) Merged with Frickley
South Kirkby South Kirkby 1876 March 1988
St John’s Normanton 1870 June 1973
Stillingfleet Stillingfleet 1978 July 2004
Stocksbridge Stocksbridge 1861 April 1948
Thorncliffe Thorncliffe 1854 (1954) Merged with Smithy Wood
Thorne Moorends 1909 December 1956
Thornhill Thornhill 1948 April 1972
Thrybergh Hall Kilnhurst 1854 January 1986
Thurcroft (Main) Thurcroft 1909 December 1991
Toftshaw Moor East Bierley 1913 August 1950
Treeton Treeton 1878 December 1990
Upton Upton 1924 November 1964
Waleswood Aston 1861 May 1948
Walton Walton 1873 December 1979
Water Haigh Oulton 1908 April 1970
Waterloo Leeds 1854 September 1968
Wath Main Wath upon Dearne 1873 March 1988
Wentworth Drift Wentworth 1948 November 1955
Wentworth Silkstone Stainborough 1911 June 1978
West Riding Altofts 1854 October 1966
West Riding, Fox Pit Altofts 1885 1966
Wharncliffe Silkstone Pilley 1860 (June) (1967) Merged with Rockingham
Wharncliffe Woodmoor Nos.4 & 5 Carlton 1925 July 1970
Wheldale Castleford 1863 October 1987
Whitemoor Barlby 1980 May 1998
Whitley Clough Grange Moor 1884 1947
Whitwood Whitwood 1854 March 1968
Wistow Wistow 1976 May 2004
Wombwell Main Wombwell 1854 May 1969
Woolley Darton 1854 December 1987
Woolley Edge Woolley Edge 1932 June 1966
Woolley Moor Dennington 1957 September 1958
Yorkshire Main Edlington 1908 October 1985
Dates in brackets indicate the date that the colliery merged with another
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