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munki is Offline
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Default 31-03-2014, 22:15

Doffcocker Colliery

Doffcocker Colliery seems to have come into existence sometime between the 1850s and 1890s. In 1896 the mine was owned by Samuel Rothwell and managed by James Herbert Rothwell. I always thought the colliery would have been a small concern but in 1896 there are 24 people shown working underground and 4 above ground.

The colliery worked at least two known shafts, situated behind what was the Sportsman’s Arms pub on Chorley Old Road - now a restaurant - and worked the Upper and Lower Mountain Mine seams as they are known locally or the “Gannister Coal” as I believe the seams are known in the wider coalfield, together with associated fireclays.

It appears that sometime prior to 1909, Rothwell added a fireclay works to the colliery to exploit the fireclay that sits between the upper and lower coal seems and said to be 7 feet thick, the bottom 18 inches to 2 feet of which is Gannister, a harder fireclay. The upper and lower coal seems directly above and below the Gannister are 10 inches and 14 inches thick respectively.

At sometime after 1914 the mine appears to have been disused but fireclay has been obtained by the works under a manager named William Battle and a Mr. W Tong, Mining Engineer reported that the geology through which the shafts were sunk contains 33 feet of filling, 9 feet of “rock”, 115 feet of metal and blue metal (grey and grey-blue mudstone), 8 feet of “soft parting” (possibly a poor sandstone reported elsewhere), Little Coal, Fireclay, Coal. The parenthesis are mine and the coal/fireclay sequence is as mentioned above.

The two shafts are now in the back gardens of two residential properties and I remember before they were built, survey work had to be carried out to ascertain the exact locations of the shafts.

The was a concrete cap further down the hill that was said to be a mineshaft and local kids were warned away. I remember it was possible to push small stones through cracks in the cap and here a distant clatter as the rocks hit the bottom of the shaft a seemingly long time later. The shaft is not marked on any maps that I know of and was long forgotten and overgrown in a little area that used to be known as Oak Tree around 200 metres from the other shafts. I never thought I would see the interior one day.

I can only assume the shaft was part of the Doffcocker Colliery workings but it doesn’t look deep enough to reach the coal seems mentioned above. They would be around 150 feet below ground here I imagine, but I can’t estimate the depth of the shaft. There seems to be a pipe protruding from one wall and I can only imagine some other tunnel leading off directly towards the bottom of the image because in that direction and close-by, above ground, a small brick building once housed a metal wheel that that turned a metal rod going into the ground. It is gone now but you can still see the edges of the metal bar that supported the wheel. It must have been associated with the shaft in some way. Really neat brickwork at the top with some soft looking stuff below and then some decent looking rock.

There was another small building nearby in a field that contained a square hole going down with metal footplates for your feet. It led to a tunnel that I entered once but didn’t get far. The construction of the building was identical to the one with the metal wheel. The last time I looked, many years ago the hole was partially blocked by a wooden frame that had been used to block the entrance and then eventually fallen down.
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