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Bygone Stanley - The Mining Industry


We now look at the mining industry at the time of the Aqueduct which made the use of the waterways more attractive. There was in the 1850 period substantial outputs of coal from nearby collieries. The Stanley Ferry pits, the Victoria (deep drop) and the Lofthouse Collieries were all producing good quality, low ash content coal. The coal from the Lofthouse area was being transported in wagons through Stanley on what was known as the Tram Road on the Ordinance maps, better known by the Stanley people as the "Nagger Line". The coal was loaded into vessels and carried to industry by the canal.

As a point of interest, the price of a ton of coal in 1829 was 12 shillings and nine pence, and its selling price in London was £2 twelve shillings and 11¼ pence.

There was an interesting article in the Wakefield Herald on December 20th 1880;-

BRAVE ACTION AT COLLIERY - Rarelv do we hear of so brave a rescue of a fellow creature as that related to us by a correspondent as recently occurring at Ferry Pit, Stanley.

A tub used to draw the water out of the pit, getting detached from the chain, fell into the sump which at the time was higher than usual, being 4 feet above it, in addition to the 18 feet below it. A byework man named Briggs, about 30 years of age, attempted to seize the tub and, in doing so, fell into the water and disappeared through the hole in the boards into the depths below. He cried out as he fell, and the cry reached the ears of John Sugden, an underviewer, nearly 20 yards away. Sugden rushed to the spot and, without a moment's hesitation, plunged in and through the hole to the rescue - a most perilous undertaking. He found Briggs with his head downward, entangled amongst some wire rope and, in trying to release him, he was gripped by Briggs and held so tightly that he gave up hope of life. With a desparate effort, however, he got free and returned to the surface. After getting breath, he plunged down once more and, this time, with success. He disentangled the unfortunate man, brought him to the surface and gave him into the hands of two other men, Thomas Roberts and William Richardson. By this time he was so exhausted that he could scarcely get out of the water. Briggs was now insensible, and was moved to the lamp room and all means were tried to restore vitality but it was at least 20 minutes before he was pronounced safe.

Mr Sugden is, we understand, the son of the William Sugden who lost his life at the Oakes explosion in 1886 after rescuing several miners and whilst returning to save others. John Sugden himself had done good service in rescuing life on several previous occasions at the Lundhill Swaithe Main and Deep Drop accidents as a letter, which we had placed in our hands from John Mitchell of Swaithes Hall, testifies. We believe Mr Sugden has received a communication from the Royal Humane Society

John Sugden was one of my greart grandfathers. Following this brave deed the workmen and officials of the Ferry Pit presented him with a silver coffee set which is now in the hands of one of his great grandsons.

In 1878 Parkhill Colliery was producing coal along with Newland Colliery. In the early days of production, coal was transported on the canal in Tom Pudding compartment boats which were used from 1860 for the Newland output and later for Parkhill. The Tom Pudding was designed by the Aire and Calder engineer William H Bartholemew. They were steel containers and could be taken out of the water and transported on railway trucks for loading with coal. This method was soon discarded and wagons of coal were brought to the canal loading bays and loaded direct into the Tom Pudding.

I myself had the privilege of being Manager of Parkhill Colliery from 1963 to 1972 and, a little later, Production Manager until I retired in 1977 and during that period the Tom Pudding was used for transporting coal over the Aqueduct to the power stations.

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