Two areas of Grassington Grit coal have been extensively worked on the outcrop of a seam which runs discontinuously northward from Hudswell Colliery, on Coalpit Hill, to the eastern end of Thorpe Edge, near Hudswell. The latter workings, though shown on early Ordnance Survey maps and obvious on satellite imagery, have been missed by modern geological mapping.
In 1713 John Robinson advised Abstrupus Danby that the coal at Hudswell “proving very uncertain and works there was expected sometimes as they tell me not 10 inches of coal so that they were weary of it”. W. Gunn, the geologist, confirmed this variation “At Hudswell Moor the lowest thickest part of the coal is 1 yard, but the stratum diminishes and vanishes at the edge. The extent of the coal is about 1 mile in each direction”.
Around 1680, the Duke of Bolton sank two pits in search of coal within his manor of Downholme. This was said to be in ground now  claimed by Thorpe and also Hudswell, suggesting the pits were near Thorpe Edge. John Wandesford leased the pits around Coalpit Hill, along with 20 Meers for lead and copper, to a local company in 1778. They were to work the pits or coal mines with six able-bodied miners.
The outcome of another lease, in 1873, is referred to in a Craven Herald report of August 1895:
Swaledale – Projected Colliery – A few years ago there were expectations of a coal mine being opened in Hudswell Moor, near Richmond. Boring on various parts of the moor showed the mineral to exist in large quantities. A shaft was then sunk and necessary arrangements made, but the existence of water was found to be a great drawback, and this, combined with other hindrances caused the project to be abandoned. Now another attempt is being made to affect a successful opening, and men are at work clearing out the water. The coal is situated on the estate of the Hon. Prior Wandesford, and the engineer at present engaged at the workings expresses the opinion that there are fully 60 acres of coal on the moor.
Gill, M.C. “Great Dales Coalfield, Eastern Areas” British Mining No.86 (2008), pp.68-108Return to previous page