Coalfield: A general overview and history of the coalfield.
Mining: Another site covering various stories, accidents,
incidents and recollections surrounding Madeley's Meadow Pit.
Mining Disaster: Information on the 1934 disaster
at this pit near Wrexham where 266 men died in an explosion
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new life into an old canal As
a new golden age of canals is heralded, we look at the past
of the derelict Shrewsbury & Newport Canal
- and the plans to restore it to its former glory.
accidents were so common that most passed unnoticed except
in the communities affected. Miners died in ones and twos
almost on a daily basis and only major incidents in which
many died would be reported nationally.
for Shropshire's miners, no record has yet been found of any
incident involving the loss of more than 12 lives, although
one of Britain's worst ever mining disaster occured only just
over the border in Gresford, near Wrexham, in 1934. In this
accident almost an entire shift - 266 men - were killed in
a huge underground explosion and collapse.
used caged canaries to detect gas in mines and give them some
degree of warning over gas underground. The canary, being
more succeptible to gas than people because of its size, would
die in the presence of explosive gases, giving miners enough
warning to evacuate the area.
were used rather than any other bird because their bright
colour allowed them to be seen in the murky pit conditions.
But they had to have their claws cut, otherwise when they
died they would grip their perches in rigor mortis
- and appear to be alive!
area today consists mainly of moorland, woods and rocky outcrops,
with farms and villages dotted between.
a closer look will also reveal other man made features which give
a clue as to how this place must have looked 125 years ago, when
the entire area was heavily industrialised.
fact, in 1875 this small area produced more than 10 per cent of
the UK's lead ore and up to 1914 it was responsible for a quarter
of the UK's barite production.
Mine in about 1870
Romans were here first - in 1796 a pig of Roman lead dating from
the 2nd Century was found nearby - and they mined by digging level
tunnels into the valley sides.
of course, has always been valuable and it was mined in the area
during the Middle Ages, but as all the lead near the surface was
exhausted, the miners had to go deeper to get it, as well as face
the problem of keeping water out of their freshly-dug tunnels and
first a windlass would have been used for mine drainage. This used
horses to power a winch to bring barrels full of water to the surface.
by 1800 steam engines had made an appearance and engine houses,
along with their tall chimneys, began springing up next to the mines.
engines operated pumps to keep the mines dry, the winding gear to
wind coal or ore as well as miners to the surface and ore dressing
machinery, and it's the roofless skeletons of their engine houses
which often remain when most other obvious traces of the mine have
the latter half of the 19th Century lead production reached its
peak - but by 1885 a flood of cheap imports caused the price to
fall by 50 per cent and many of the smaller mines went out of business.
1900 even the larger mines were finding it tough and had switched
to mining barites to make ends meet. The last large ore pit, Huglith
Mine, shut down in 1947.