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Coal Mines in Skelmersdale

Skem Heritage Archives

The Coming of the Coal Industry
By Dave Ackerley
The first instances of Coal Mines in Skelmersdale appeared about the 1840’s and first appeared on the Ordinance Survey map surveyed in 1845-46, this shows 2 situated at the bottom of Sixpenny Lane (Mill Lane) at the River Tawd and 2 more by Anna’s Wood further east (roughly where the Town Centre is now), also Blaguegate Colliery can be seen just outside the boundary to the west, although there was evidence of earlier workings after the Tawd Vale Colliery disaster of 1897 which after the river was dammed had exposed some old workings which were only a few yards deep and must have been descended by ladders, these were estimated to have been operational between 1710 and 1760 so Skelmersdale has had a history of mining longer than people might have previously thought.
The massive increase in Collieries in Skelmersdale can be seen in the table below (extracted from “The Skelmersdale Story” by the Rev Nigel Sands), some long standing but some only existing for as little as 1 year.
Colliery Date of opening date of final abandonment Owners (where known)
Almond 30.3.1910
Berry Street 1866 1879
Bickerstaffe Prior 1853 24.10.1936 Bromilow Foster & Co. Ltd;Foster Williams & Co.Ltd;Bickerstaffe Collieries Ltd
Black Moss Prior 1872 23.11.1888 Messrs Dewhurst and Berry
—Arley Pit
—Old Engine Pit
Prior 1845

Chapel House 1868 2.8.1904 Edward Smith;Ex’ors of Edward Smith deceased
Crawford 25.10.1940 Wigan Coal & Iron Co. Ltd
Crow Orchard Prior 1853
reopened as a licensed mine 1949 31.5.1927
31.5.1967 Crow Orchard Colliery Co Ltd
Dalton 1873 29.10.1921
Ferney Knoll 1894 1895
Hilton Pits 23.11.1923
1896 1880
Wigan Coal & Iron Co Ltd
Lathom 31.8.1921 White Moss Coal Co Ltd
Lathom Park 24.7.1931 John Griffiths & Son Ltd
Pear Tree 1878 1879
Prescott Pit 31.5.1927
Swifts Folds 1853-1855 Absent from list of 1873
Tawd Vale
(Glenburn) Prior 1861
1905 30.11.1897
22.11.1923 Mr R Dickinson
John Griffiths & Sons Ltd
Victoria 1894-1899 8.9.1923 Wigan Coal & Iron Co Ltd
Whimsey Prior 1851 Prior 1851
Whinney Prior 1851 Prior 1851
White Moss Prior 1865 31.5.1927 White Moss Coal Co Ltd
This increase can also be seen in the population explosion in the following table from 1801 to 1901 where there is a gradual increase in the first 50 years and then a massive increase 10 fold for the next 50 years.
Population increase of Skelmersdale 1801 to 1901
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
414 541 622 676 691 760 1028 3171 5707 6627 5699
The source of these people can be speculated from news clips and local evidence, for example a Northampton man Luke Martindale and a Burnley lad William Cox had died in an accident at the Tawd Vale Colliery on Sunday January 27 1878, so obviously some people had come in from around the surrounding Lancashire areas, a large amount of Welsh folk had also come to Skelmersdale by the opening of a Welsh Chapel on Clayton Street on the corner of Clegg Street on Saturday February 18 1899 and the holding of an Eisteddfod at the Market Hall on Saturday April 16 1897. Other peoples could be deduced from the names of 3 streets off Clayton Street, these are Durham Street, Stafford Street and Cardiff Street – it would be interesting to find some proper evidence for the naming of these streets (and others).
There is a sad side to the Collieries in Skelmersdale and that is the tragedies that have occurred throughout the years, the colliery having the worst record being the Tawd Vale Colliery which was renamed the Glenburn Colliery after the worst incident on Tuesday November 30 1897. All in all there was over 100 fatalities in Skelmersdale collieries from 1851 to 1900 according to the Reports of the Inspectors of Coal Mines, and who knows how many serious injuries.

Some surprises can be seen for residents of Skelmersdale for the sites of these old Collieries like for instance where the Brickworks is now, behind Stanley Industrial Estate and Ken Abram Trucking, is where Blaguegate Colliery was (the hill to the side of it is an old slag heap), the roundabout down from the Derby Arms is roughly where White Moss Collieries was, down the Tawd River was some more namely Glenburn Colliery (formerly called the Tawd Vale Colliery) which if you walk through Lathom High School down to the Tawd River to the bridge then looking right through the trees for about 300 yards or so, was situated there (if you walk to the right of the bridge down the path you’ll come across old bricks paving the path), also Mossfield Colliery which was situated near the Devils Steps and Crow Orchard. Have a look in the “Map” book to see where all these were.

Lastly where the shops are situated down High Street was the site of Victoria Colliery which closed about 1923.

The list gives, Name of Colliery, Where situated and Owner’s Name.
As you can see some are the same and some are additional to the list above.
Source = www.ex.ac.uk/~RBurt/MinHistNet/1896-78.htm
• 13 Berry Street, Skelmersdale, J. Houghton.
• 18 Black Moss, Skelmersdale, Dewhurst and Berry.
• 19 Blaguegate, Skelmersdale, Lord Skelmersdale.
• 20 Blaguegate, Wigan, Winstanley and Co.
• 29 Chapel House, Skelmersdale, Chapel House Colliery Co.
• 31 Crow Orchard, Skelmersdale, Crow Orchard Colliery Co. (Limited).
• 42 Far Moss, Skelmersdale, Bromilow Foster, and Co.
• 72 Lathom, Skelmersdale, Bromilow Foster, and Co.
• 84 Moss, Skelmersdale, Bromilow, Forster, and Co.
• 86 Moss Side, Skelmersdale, Moss Side Land and Brickworks Co. (Limited).
• 92 Park, Skelmersdale, Lord Skelmersdale.
• 93 Park, Skelmersdale, Tawd Vale Coal Co.
• 115 Tawd Vale, Skelmersdale, Tawd Vale Colliery Co. (Limited).
• 129 Whitemoss, Skelmersdale, Whitemoss Coal Co. (Limited).