M is for Mining

On the day when the Chilean miners were freed after being trapped underground for two months, it is appropriate that my contribution to ABC Wednesday should be M is for Mining.

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.

ABC Wednesday Round 7

Misaligned Mannequin Meets Moon Goddess by Moloki Girl

Meg and Mog at Witch Reviews

Magical Math Humors by Jingle

Mocking Bird by Ramblin’ Roger

Morning Mist at Visual Norway

Magpies by MorningAJ

Mushrooms at Meditations of My Heart

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

7 comments… Add yours
  • rog 13th October 2010

    I have been watching the Chilean miners come up, and I’m finding it oddly emotional. That is TOUGH work.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Snow Leopard 13th October 2010

    Pretty nice history of the area and the maps are good. Seems you did a lot of research for this. And heres hoping that the Chilean miners come home safely.


  • Jay from The Depp Effect 13th October 2010

    Heavens .. you used to toboggan down slag heaps??? Reading about the Chilean miners reminds me of the terrible tragedy at Aberfan in the sixties, when a whole primary school was buried by a collapsing slag heap killing children and teachers alike.

  • Polly 13th October 2010

    Thanks Rog and SL. The rescue seems to be going very well, although my choice of M for Mining was purely coincidental.

    Jay, yep tobogganing down slag heaps, although they weren’t that high. Falling off was pretty painful though.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 14th October 2010

    “in Flockton, Yorkshire”!!!! Good heavens! You’ve got Yorkshire blood in your veins after all! From now on I will be much more respectful towards you sir. Forgive me if I have previously offended you in any way. I just didn’t realise you were (almost) one of us.

  • Polly 14th October 2010

    More Yorkshire blood than you think YP. My great-great grandfather, Ben Thorpe was also born in Holmfirth.

  • Trevor Rowley 7th December 2011

    Call me “Mr Picky” by all means but I think you’ll find that slage heaps are waste from metal production (iron, steel and the like) and not from coal mining. Whereas, it would probably be correct to call the hills being referred to here (in Dukinfield) as coal tips or pit hills. I only know this because I read a similar correction made on a non-league football forum some months ago. If you want to see “pit hills” of some magnitude just set half a day aside to go and watch a match at Frickley Athletic (South Elmsall in Yorkshire) where your eye will wander regularly from the game to the hills surrounding the ground. Barely more than a few handfulls of grass are able to grow on those hillsides which are all that seems to be left of Frickley Colliery and a once thriving mining community.


Your email will not be published on this site, but note that this and any other personal data you choose to share is stored here. Please see the Privacy Policy for more information.

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: