Coal Mining in and Around Blackburn and Darwen
This photograph shows Top o'th Coal Pits Farmhouse.
Coal mining began in Blackburn around 1569. The site of these early coal pits was Blackburn Moor that later became known as Coalpit Moor. Coal had been dug out of the earth as early as the 13th century in the Burnley Area.
Around 1720 John Bailey started to build a farm on Coalpit Moor. On the corner of the shippon was the following inscription "i b 1720". Over the porch of the farmhouse was the inscription "i b a"1722. Ann was the name of John Bailey's wife and their farm was called Coal Pits Farm. Blackburn Corporation Hospital was built on land to the side of Coal Pits Farm and was built in 1894. Today this hospital is known as Park Lee. In around 1935 two quarrymen went down the shafts at Coal Pits Farm. The shafts were about 50 feet deep and around 4 feet wide. One of the shafts they went down they were able to crawl along the seams where the coal had been taken out; these seams were from 2 feet 3 inches to 4 feet and they ran for a distance of about 50 feet under the site of the hospital.
In around 1900 Messrs. Whitaker & Co., the owners of a Brick Yard at Grimshaw Park began to quarry some of the Coal Pits Farm site. They ran a chain road from the Brick Works at Grimshaw Park and a tunnel under Park Lee Road (at the time called Longshaw Lane). The chain road ran along the bottom boundary wall of the Hospital and ran to the new quarry at Coal Pits Farm. They quarried for the fire clay that lies beneath the coal seam to a depth of 50 feet. They stopped using this quarry in the late 1950s. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s the quarry was filled in. When the old Blackburn Market House was demolished this was also tipped in here.
There were four or five shafts at Brandy House Brow and Old Bank Lane that were known as 'Bell Pits'. These pits get their name from their underground shape and would have been around 50 feet deep and between 4 and 6 feet wide.
Newspaper Extract from May 11th, 1796.
By Order of the Assignees of M. M. Bailey & Smalleys:
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION.
At the House of Mr. John Wool at The Sign of the Bird-In-Hand, in Darwen-street, Blackburn in the County of Lancaster at 7 O’clock in the evening of Tuesday the 17th Day of May, 1796. (Subject to the conditions of Sale then and there produced.)
The property of Mr. Bailey.
The fee simple and inheritance of the estate commonly known by the name of Coal Pits, situated within the township of Lower Darwen and adjoining the Township of Blackburn now in the possession of Henry Barton and others (as tenants at will) consisting of an ancient and respectable stone Mansion or dwelling house, 4 cottages, a barn and stables, Shippon, and other out buildings and about 30 acres of land after seven yards to the fence, let at the yearly rent of £9. In this estate is a valuable coal mine, now open, and which makes from £6 to £7 per annum clear.
Also a building used as a factory for carding and spinning cotton and wool by a merchant of a Horse gin. N.B. the Leeds canal will come close by the estate or through a part thereof. And must considerably enhance the value of the same.
The property of Mr William Smalley, two pews in Saint Paul’s Church, Blackburn being no.23 on the south side of gallery, and no. 52 on the north side below. The tenant of the estate will show the same and the clerk of St. Paul's will show the pews.
This is a sketch that Charles Haworth did of Top o'th Coal Pits in 1846.
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