There were mines dotted all over the area where I grew up and where I live now, but it is hard to believe. There is little evidence that there were once great gashes in the earth where coal was hewn, apart from the odd housing estate disappearing through subsidence as an occasional reminder.
The photo from the Tameside Image Library shows part of the Dog Lane Pit in Dukinfield with St Mark’s Church in the background. Dog Lane was the original name for Astley Street where I grew up, but I have no memory of seeing any evidence of mining.
The only signs I recall were the slag heaps at the other end of town, great mounds of shale that we used to slide down using sheets of corrugated metal as toboggans.
My family were miners, going back several generations. They worked in mostly shallow mines in Flockton, Yorkshire, in the 1700s, but as these were exhausted, deeper and deeper shafts were dug and it became the Caphouse Colliery, but more of that later.
My four times great-grandfather died in 1835 and his widow and all but one of her sons moved from Flockton to Mottram in Cheshire, a distance of around 25 miles. The brother who didn’t join them went north to the mines of County Durham.
I’ve added yellow dots to the 19th century map above to show the relative positions of Flockton and Mottram.
Mottram today is a leafy suburb of Manchester with a rural history you would imagine, but there was a fair bit of industry, including a shallow pit where my ancestors worked in the 19th century.
Earlier I mentioned the Caphouse Colliery near Flockton which closed in 1985 and is now home to the National Mining Museum. Below are a few photos I took there last Christmas. Click for larger images.