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The underlying rocks of the Rishton area are carboniferous coal measures. An interesting document dealing with Tottleworth (figure 2) in 1348 tells us that sea coal was found and worked there at that time. Coal was then known as seal coal because most of the coal came by the sea from Newcastle.

This shows a vertical section through Rishton Colliery.

Rishton colliery extracted most of the coal from the lower mountain seam.

The Rishton colliery shaft commenced high up in the clutchman sandstones of the lower coal measures.

In the Blackburn and Accrington district, the main coal seam was the lower mountain mine, which had been worked for a long period. It had a thickness of 2” to 1 ” in Rishton, compared with 2’ 3” at Blackburn and Accrington.

The upper mountain mine averages 3’ in Rishton, 2’ 3” in Accrington, and 3’ in Blackburn. Although this coal is nearer the surface and is usually thicker than the lower mountain mine, it is said to be much inferior as the upper half of the seam contains thin bands of stone, difficult to mine.

The Lancashire coalfield was important in the development of the industrial north and the Rishton cotton mills made direct use of the colliery once it was established. The coalfield was a valuable asset to the expanding Rishton of the early 20th Century. One of the mills, not situated on the canal made use of the water in the colliery for its steam engines.

Future coal mining does not seem probable as all the pit heads have been demolished, but the upper mountain seam is still intact.

Documentary evidence survives of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century coal working in the Sidebeet and Higher Cunliffe areas although most of these shafts appear to have been within the Blackburn boundary.

Pickup Share cetificate from 1938

Significant commercial development began in 1837 when Joseph Barnes and Co., leased the coal seams from the Petre family of Dunkenhalgh. Early operations were located at Coppy Clough, Church, and at Dunkenhalgh Park Colliery, but about 1850 shafts were sunk at Meadowhead (390' to the Lower Mountain Mine) and at Norden (51') to link up with the Church workings.

A drift opened at Close Brow, was later used to mine fireclay by George Clarke & Sons until 1897. Pillar and stall workings extended northwest from Church under Dunkenhalgh Park and Rishton town centre, and east towards Enfield crossroads.

In 1874 the Dunkenhalgh Colliery Co. Ltd., was formed by various local colliery proprietors and worked the pits until their exhaustion in 1883. During 1882-3, P. W. Pickup, manager of the company, negotiated a lease for a hitherto unworked coalfield situated to the west of Rishton, and in 1884 new shafts (511' to 2’2" coal in the Lower Mountain Mine, 1'5" coal, Upper Mountain Mine) were sunk at the end of Walmsley Street, with a tramroad running east to the canal. A Yates & Thom colliery winding engine, 7’ stroke, 14’ drum, and a generator by Fowler of Leeds, were installed to work the colliery. The mine employed 280 colliers during 1930's.

Pillar and stall workings; colliery boundaries were roughly marked by Eachill, the Turrets, Norden Brickworks, Catt Bridge, Higher Side Beet, Whitebirk Moss Plantation, Whitebirk Farm,

Cowhill Moss, Aspen Valley Viaduct, Tomknitter Bridge, Church Kirk and New Barn.

P. W. Pickup Ltd., ceased operations in 1941 although there is evidence of short lived working by the Manchester colliery Co., during 1943.

Collieries in 1880

Rishton, Rishton, Dunkenhalgh Colliery Co. (Limited)

Close Nook, Rishton, Dunkenhalgh Colliery Co. (Limited).

Dillhall, Enfield, Dunkenhalgh Colliery Co., (Limited).

Blackburn, Whitebirk, Dunkenhalgh Colliery Co. (Limited).

Mining in 1896

name Rishton

location Rishton

 Owner and postal address P. W. Pickup Rishton Blackburn

 Manager William Pickup

 Under Manager Henry Pomfret

 Worker u/g sur 240 38

Minerals worked Coal, C, H & M, & Fireclay

Remarks Lower Mountain

C = Coaking Coal H = Household Coal M = Manufacturing Coal

List of Mines in 1908

Only one mine is listed as surviving by 1908, here are the details……

Mine Owner - P. W. Pickup Ltd.

Mine Situation - Rishton, Blackburn, Enfield (Pumping), Clayton-le-Moors

Manager - W. Pickup

Under Manager - Geo. Haslam

Height below Sea Level 385

Height above Sea Level 45

Location of Rishton Collieries

Hand Drawn Map of the location of the coal mines round Rishton.

1. Dunkenhalgh Park Pits.

2. New Barn.

3. Meadowhead Pit and coal staithe.

4. Norden Pit.

5. Close Brow Drift.

6. Rishton Colliery.

7. Site of Norden staithe.

Mining Accidents

Story of Life down the Mine

On Tuesday 13th July 1999 the Lancashire Evening Telegraph reported the following;

Former mine sites to get Lottery boost.

CULTURE Secretary Chris Smith today ordered a shake-up of the way National Lottery cash is handed out, so that former coalfield areas like Hyndburn win more help.

The minister decided on the overhaul after the first in-depth survey into levels of lottery funding across Britain showed wide variations in take up.

In particular, coalfield and former coalfield areas such as Huncoat, Great Harwood, Rishton and Accrington have been missing out.

The survey shows they had been awarded on average 32 per person less than other areas.

This is partly because the areas generated 2.5 fewer applications per 1,000 people than the national average and requested 97 less per person than the national average.

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope, welcomed the change and said he would lobby hard to ensure more cash came to his constituency and the rest of East Lancashire as a result.

He said: "I welcome this move. There were seven or eight coalmines in my area until the 1960s, including the Scaitcliffe pit, mines at Huncoat, Great Harwood, Rishton and in Accrington itself.

"At its height, the Lancashire coalfield employed 100,000 people, but 10 years later, after a combination of Arthur Scargill and Margaret Thatcher had been at it, it employed none. "East Lancashire is very definitely a former coalfield area and even though it has not employed any miners for some years, both the people who worked in the pits and the local environment still bear the scars.

"We have know for some time that East Lancashire does not get as much out of the Lottery as it should and I have been concerned about this. Today's announcement is good news and I shall ensure that the area takes full advantage of it."

Mr Smith today told the annual Lottery Monitor Conference: "It is unacceptable that some parts of the country are doing much better than others from the Lottery.

"I want everyone to have confidence that the money for good causes is allocated fairly and goes where it is needed.

"This research is a first step. It shows us exactly what has happened across the country to date, but I now want to see a further investigation.

"We must look more closely at the reasons behind the disparity in awards, not just for the sake of the coalfield areas, but for all towns and cities where lottery awards are low."

Hoddlesden Number 1 Pit

In 1897 Joseph Place & Sons Limited was registered by J. E. & W. H. Place, George Brindle, paper manufacturer, and a Rishton cotton manufacturer, Robert Clayton.

References

Rishton – A North East Lancashire Cotton Town by Marian Sleigh

Rishton’s Industrial Heritage by Margaret Rothwell and K Broderick.

Coal Mining by Gordon Hartley (email with held)

Lancashire Evening Telegraph