Coal Mining

Coal Mining in the Area by Alan Rowles

Coal mining in the area dates back at least as far as the early 17th Century. Evidence of ‘bell’ pits, which upon their eventual collapse, formed circular depressions in the ground, could until recent decades be found in this vicinity.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, deeper mines accessed by shafts began to replace bell pits and drifts. In fields on the right, just up Hollow Lane, were two such pits: Streetfields Colliery and Worrall’s Pit. The latter is of particular interest. Owned by the same family for over 100 years, throughout its working life the sole power source for ascending and descending the shaft was a horse-powered ‘Jenny Wheel’. A large section of the shaft was hewn through solid rock, and apart from closing for a short while in 1913, was worked continuously for over a century.
Probably due to its antiquated Jenny Wheel, the pit was featured in the Sheffield Star in June 1939. The article, headed ‘One Horse Power Coal Mine has been working 100 years’, stated that the owner was J.J.Worrall, grandson of the man who sank the pit and that eight men worked there. The coal produced was for the house and factory market, and although production was once around 150 tons a week, in 1937 it was around 60 tons. Closure eventually came in 1943.

By the mid-19th century, much larger collieries were being sunk in the area. On land to the south of Station Road , alongside the Midland Railway, Holbrook Colliery was opened. Owned by J&G Wells, the pit began drawing coal in 1877. Joseph and George Wells were born in Eckington and succeeded their father in the coal trade. They became one of the largest coal proprieters in the country.
By the 1880’s, Holbrook Colliery was reported as employing 500 men and boys below ground and was drawing around one acre of coal per week. A number of pumping shafts for the pit were opened in the area and Pumping Station No. 4 was sunk adjacent to Rotherham Road where Morrisons car park is now situated.
The pit itself was a hive of activity and its many buildings included banks of what were known as ‘German’ coke ovens. Connected to the Great Central Railway via a branch line from Beighton, the pit had its own small internal railway network where a small steam locomotive called Jupitor plied its trade shunting coal and coke wagons.
Closure came in 1944. Some of the buildings remained intact until, along with the tall chimney which served the boilers, they were demolished in 1960. After closure, part of the site was occupied by Holbrook Sewage Works, but that too has now passed into history.