The Tyldesley Coal Company, formed in 1870, owned several collieries in Tyldesley, on the Manchester CoalfieldThe Manchester Coalfield is part of the Lancashire Coalfield. Some easily accessible seams were worked on a small scale from the Middle Ages, and extensively from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until the last quarter of the 20th century. in Tyldesley, Lancashire. Its origins were in the Yew Tree Colliery, where an explosion killed twenty-five men and boys in 1858. The company sank its largest and longest-lasting pit near Cleworth Hall in 1874 and remained independent until nationalisation in 1947.
The company’s collieries were on a part of the Manchester Coalfield whose coal seams were laid down in the Carboniferous period, where some easily accessible seams were worked on a small scale before the Industrial Revolution, and extensively from the mid-19th century until the middle of the 20th century. The Coal Measures lie above a bed of Millstone Grit and are interspersed with sandstones, mudstones, shales, and fireclays. The most productive seams are in the lower two thirds of the Middle Coal Measures where coal is mined from seams between the Worsley Four Foot and Arley mines.[a]In this part of Lancashire a coal seam is referred to as a mine and the coal mine as a colliery or pit. The Coal Measures generally dip towards the south and west. Numerous small faults affect the coalfield.
Yew Tree Farm covered about 18 Cheshire acresA Cheshire acre is a historical measure of area that was used in the 19th century. on the north side of Sale Lane to the east of Tyldesley. In 1845 George Green of Wharton Hall, Little Hulton, and his brother William, leased it and sank a shaft to prospect for coal. This became Yew Tree Colliery. By about 1851, George Green had built a tramroad to link the colliery to the Bridgewater Canal east of Astley Green. At the Tyldesley end, the tramway was worked by cable down the steep slope of the Tyldesley Banks and horse-drawn wagons completed the journey. The tramway was out of use by 1913 when the tipping plant and sidings by the canal were sold to the Clifton and Kersley Coal Company to be used by its colliery at Astley Green.
In 1860 John Holland, a railway contractor from Ireland, joined Green and they formed the Tyldesley Coal Company in 1870. The London and North Western Railway (LNWR) built a line from Manchester to Wigan via Eccles and Tyldesley and via Leigh to Kenyon Junction in 1864 providing the impetus for the exploitation of coal seams in Tyldesley. Greens Sidings were constructed for the company to the east of Tyldesley Station.
After the arrival of the railway, the company expanded rapidly. It opened Shakerley Colliery which had the first iron headgear in the country in 1867, but which had finished operating in 1878. (A different pit belonging to William Ramsden was also named Shakerley Colliery.) Combermere Colliery in Shakerley opened in 1878 and lasted until 1893 when the company built a brickworks at Combermere and the railway to it operated until the mid-1930s.
Cleworth Hall Colliery Cleworth Hall Colliery on the Lancashire Coalfield operated between 1880 and 1963 in Tyldesley, Lancashire, England. was sunk under the Cleworth Hall estate to the east of Yew Tree in 1874. In the early 1890s the shafts at Yew Tree were deepened. Cleworth Hall was modernised before the 1914 and the Arley pit shaft was equipped with steel headgear and a washery and coal preparation plant. The company’s coal output in 1871 was 25,825 tons and its highest output was in 1907 at 419,471 tons. In 1920 output was 267,848 tons.
In about 1888 miners employed by the company exceeded the boundaries of the lease and extracted coal south of Well Street which was discovered when colliers working for Astley and Tyldesley CollieriesThe Astley and Tyldesley Collieries Company was formed in 1900. It became part of Manchester Collieries in 1929, and some of its collieries were nationalised in 1947. broke through and found the coal gone. Lengthy litigation followed resulting in a £3,000 fine for Green’s company.
The colliery’s railway expanded at the same time as the pits were developed. The line to Combermere was extended to Peelwood Colliery, which opened next to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s Manchester to Southport line in 1882 and where the company had a siding. A geological fault caused the company to sink another shaft at Peelwood, the Daisy Pit, to win coal from seams close to the surface.
In 1896 Cleworth Hall employed 304 men underground and 46 surface workers. Gas coal, household and manufacturing coal was mined from the Black and White, Six-Foot and Trencherbone mines.[b]In this part of Lancashire a coal seam is referred to as a mine and the coal mine as a colliery or pit. Yew Tree Colliery was smaller with 118 below ground and 23 above. Steam, household and manufacturing coal were mined from the Seven Foot mine. In 1923, only Cleworth Hall and Peelwood, which together employed more than 1,400 workers, were operating. Peelwood closed in 1928. In 1933 Cleworth Hall worked the Trencherbone, Haigh Yard, Cannel, Three Feet, Four Feet and Arley mines and employed more than 900 workers.
The company remained independent until it became part of the National Coal Board’s (NCB) North Western Division on nationalisation in January 1947 when 760 men were employed underground and 258 on the surface. In 1961 the area became the NCB’s East Lancashire Area. The area mined by this company, Shakerley Collieries and James Roscoe’s New Lester Colliery was opencasted after the Second World War, removing all traces of the industry.
The worst mining disaster in Tyldesley occurred at the Yew Tree Colliery on 11 December 1858. An explosion of firedamp cost 25 lives, the youngest 11 and the oldest 35 years of age. Many of the victims were described as “drawers”, so they would have been in their early teens; a similar explosion in 1852 had claimed the lives of two miners.
Locomotives owned by the Tyldesley Coal Company had to pass under the Manchester Road bridge which had restricted headroom and were built to a reduced loading gauge. Its first locomotive was a 4-coupled saddle tank locomotive from the Haigh Foundry in Wigan. It was delivered in 1867 and named ”Tyldesley”. ”Beatrice”, another 4-coupled saddle tank, was bought from Vulcan Foundry in Newton le Willows in 1877, the same year that ”Jessie” was delivered from Walker Brothers in Wigan. In 1897 ”Victoria”, another 4-coupled locomotive, was bought from the Vulcan Foundry and the first 6-coupled engine, ”Louisa”, was built by the Hunslet Engine Company in Leeds in 1902.