Shropshire Routes to Roots
|Routes | Industrial development | Shropshire's industrial heritage|
2. Coal mining in Shropshire
There were several good sources of coal in Shropshire and in its heyday the local mining industry rivalled neighbouring Staffordshire in its output. The large North East Shropshire field and its associated connection with Ironbridge is considered separately within this theme and on other sites. This section will deal with the contribution played by the two other main Shropshire fields.
Where was the Oswestry Coalfield?
The mines in this area were part of the southern tip of the North Wales coalfield. They were known locally as the Morda field and the St. Martin's field. There were mines across most of St. Martin's parish but the Morda mines were concentrated mainly around Coed-y-go and Trefonen. The coal in these areas was often quite close to the surface and for many years surface digging was used to extract it. The 'Bell Pit,' so named because of the wide bottom of the hole, was a common form of extraction. A simple hole was dug down until either water was reached or there was a danger of collapse. The pit was then abandoned and a new one dug.
You can find out more about the way in which goods were transported from the Morda field in the Transport and communication theme, Getting goods to market: The local infrastructure.
Further north at St. Martin's it was a different story, where the Ifton shaft was sunk and the Ifton colliery was born. This was a very profitable field and became the largest mine ever to operate in Shropshire, employing over 1,300 by 1928. It continued in operation until 1968, when, like so many abandoned collieries, the outbuildings became small industrial units, using the communications network created for the earlier industry.
Where was the Shrewsbury Coalfield?
The Shrewsbury field was part of a mile wide seam that ran from the Breidden Hills on the Welsh Borders, through Alberbury to Westbury, and on through Asterley to Meole Brace and Sutton Farm in Shrewsbury, finally diving down beneath Haughmond Hill to end near High Ercall.
Although the field had been mined for many years, up until the mid 19th century it had been purely for local consumption.
The Hanwood field was alongside the Shrewsbury to Welshpool railway, and it was a simple matter to transport the coal from the pithead to the Cruckmeole sidings.
The field was worked continuously, with the coal face at 900ft below ground, and up to a mile from the entry shaft. By the time of its closure in 1940, it was producing 800 tons a week.
ContinueNow find out about Mineral and Metal Mining: Next
Page created May 2004 and last updated 13 July 2007