The Duckmanton Ironworks pits comprising of around five shafts were sunk between 1826-1835 and exploited the First Saint Johns seam at one hundred feet from the surface, the Second Saint Johns seam at one hundred and twenty seven feet and the Top Hards seam at three hundred and nineteen feet deep. A lease was arranged with the Duke of Devonshire to mine coal in the Staveley Upperground colliery which was in operation from around the turn of the nineteenth century until 1842. Other collieries (Tom Lane or Duckmanton colliery) were worked at Tom Lane until 1851. Higher up the valley towards Calow on the site of Lodge Farm was a colliery which worked two shafts into the Deep Soft or Main Soft seam and the Pinder Park ironstone rake with Deep End colliery on the Moor Farm site belonging to Benjamin Smith and this was abandoned in about 1859. Coal was also mined at Hady Colliery but may have supplied the Calow ironworks and later the Griffin Works in Chesterfield.
This area had however been worked much earlier, as an old document states the following:
Grant from John Stanley and Robert his son to John, Abbot of Welbec, of a watercourse called "le Sought", running from a mine of sea coal belonging to said Abbot in Dugmanton, through or under the lands of the said John and Robert, as far as Reynaldbrigge. 1451. See 'Two Local Markers'.
The shafts were all brick lined using locally manufactured bricks and one such shaft employed an idea from Cornish tin mining to allow men to ascend and descend the mine. The shaft had a series of insets in it large enough to house a man and the installation of a Cornish type beam pumping engine on the surface (allegedly) allowed men to ride in and out by riding on the cross stays of the pump rod. As the rod raised the men rose with it, as the rod became stationary the men got off into the refuge holes and waited until the next upwards motion to rise further up the shaft. So after many 'ons and offs' the shaft could be traversed. Ventilation at the time of the Smiths mining operations would have been by a furnace in the return or upcast airway, which was created originally by splitting the shaft into two using a brattice frame. The system of ventilation here would suggest that separate shafts for upcast and downcast air were employed.
A disaster happened at Hartley colliery in Northumberland in 1862 when only one shaft was used at the mine. The heavy wooden headstocks fell down the shaft entombing two hundred and four miners who later died being unable to get out of the mine. The later act of Parliament prohibited the use of a single shaft and at least two means of access were to be available to every mine so it would appear from the use of double shafting on the Smith collieries that they were ahead of the times in some ways.
Second Saint Johns Seam. 21 inches of coal at a depth from the surface of 100 feet.
High Hazles Coal Seam. 36 inches at a depth from the surface of 127 feet.
13 inches at a depth from the surface of 214 feet.
2 inches at a depth from the surface of 263 feet.
1 inch at a depth from the surface of 283 feet.
Top Hard Coal Seam. 66 inches at a depth from the surface of 319 feet.
Surveyed by W. Edwards in 1941.
In 1826 Arnold Lupton surveyed the seams in the Duckmanton Engine pit of the Duckmanton Ironworks and showed similar figures to those above down to the Top Hard seam.
In 1835 he resurveyed the strata to 66 feet under the Top Hard seam to a seam of clay at this depth. no reason for resurvey given.
Information from the Staveley Company states that water was pumped from 227 feet down at a rate of about 70,000,000 gallons per annum. Presumably to Markham colliery for use on the washery and underground for fire fighting.
Plan showing the Ironeworks pit from a 19th century survey of the site for the Arkwright family.
Inside pump house. Pump bed & shaft cover.
Electric shock notice, found wherever electricity was to be found in mining.
No.452. Mr. B. Smith. They have two furnaces and 20 ironstone pits as well as three coal pits. He has not yet made a list of the children or young men. They are employed in the usual avocations at the pits and at the furnaces, two moulding and three assisting their father in loading the furnace. The company does not directly employ the children but let the work per job and in most cases the men they let employ the children. He considers they have no control over these children. They do not recognise them nor do they regulate the hours they work. They have neither school, club or reading room but Mr. Smith is the superintendent of the Independent Sunday School at Calow where many of the children attend. They work one coal pit with three sets the whole of the 24 hours. None of the children work on a Sunday. The company sink the coal shafts and prepare the headings and the pit by tender at per ton. It is then underlet in the usual way to holers, loaders &c., and the children are by day work. The ironstone shafts are mostly sunk by the butties themselves.
(Signed) BENJAMIN SMITH.
No.453. Henry Cooper. He is 13 years old and has worked for a year and a half. He went two years to a day school, he now works on Sundays and can neither attend church, school or chapel and has 8d. per day. He assists the loader to supply the cupola.
No.454. Abraham Gaite. He is 13 years old and has worked for two years. He has 8d. per day and worked from seven to four and has one hour for dinner. He moulds. He went for two years to a day school where he learnt to write. He now attends the Calvinist Sunday School and reads in the Bible but does not write. [This boy spells well.]
No.455. Thomas Bennett. He is 17 years old and assists his father to load iron and has 1s. 2d. per day. He has he been to day school five or six years. He can write but never has learnt accounts. He now neither goes to church, chapel or school.
No.456. Matthew Evans. He is 14 years old and has worked nine months and before that he went to a day school. He now goes to the Calvinist Sunday School at Calow. He reads the Scripture History. He can write a little but spells badly.
No.457. William Platts. He is 16 years old and has worked since he was nine. He assists his father to load and sometimes waggons. He works from six to six or seven and has one hour for meals. He works on Sundays and does not go to school and seldom to church or chapel. He went four or five years to a day school but cannot spell either church or dog.
No.458. George Shaw. He is 11 years old and has not quite worked a year. He works from six to six or seven. He helps to load the furnace and works on a Sunday. He gets to the Calvinist Sunday School when he can. He is in the spelling book but cannot spell a word.
No.459. Jane Platts. She is 13 years old and has worked for three months. She assists to load the furnace but has no wages but helps her father. She works on a Sunday and used to attend the Duckmanton Church Sunday School as well as day school. She reads and spells badly.
No.460. Matthew Brett. He is 13 years old and helps to load. He works on Sundays and neither attends church, chapel or school. He cannot read or write.
No.461. John Unwin, engineman. The engine is 10 horse power and he lets down and up two and three at a time with a round rope. There are three sets that work the pit, eight hours each set. The engine stops half an hour for each set at meal times. The pit is 82 yards deep, seam five feet and headways full as much. One bank is 100 yards and one waggon road 300 yards. Neither bank nor waggon road is railed nor are the corves on wheels. They are drawn by horses. The youngest in the pit is 12 years old and he drives a horse. There are only four under 13 in the three sets. The pit is winded from a shaft three quarters of mile off and he considers it well ventilated. They have no wildfire and but little blackdamp. The workings are not to be called wet. About half a year since, George Allen, who had worked upwards of 30 years on the field, fell out of the chains when he was about 60 yards off the bottom and was killed. Another man, a holer, had his leg broken a few weeks since by the coal falling. They use a bonnet but no Davy.
[There are three other pits I did not visit. They are worked only by the day. They are most of them worked on wallows. Two worked by gin horses and one by an engine. The ironstone pits are all near each other and several communicate. They are, most of them worked by wallows, the others by a four horse power engine and are about 20 yards deep. Messrs. Smiths have an under ground bailiff who frequently visits the pit and attends to the windways, ropes, &c. There are but three besides one gin horse driver under 13 on the whole field.]
No.462. John Bacon, jun. He is 13 years old and has worked in coal pits for four years. He drives the horse in the pit. The banks or the waggonway are not laid with iron, or the corves on wheels. He works eight hours and has 1s. He goes down at two p.m. and works until 10. The youngest in the pit is 12 and he works on the second shift from ten to four a.m. There is 40 minutes allowed on each shift for meals. He has tea and bread and butter before he goes down and bread and cheese in the pit. He has no other meal and never has meat but on a Sunday. He attends the Calvinist Sunday School. He reads but he has never learnt to write. They do not teach writing and he was never at a day school. [Spells pretty well.]
No.464. Lewis Ashmore. He is 17 years old and does not look to be 15. His uncle says he began work sadly too soon and is stopped in growth. He went a year to the National School and now goes to the Ranters’ Sunday School. He can write a little and reads in the Testament. He spells badly. He draws the waggon in the ironstone pits.
No.465. Samuel Ashmore. He is 11 years old and has worked a year under his father. He pushes the wagons. He works from six to half past three. Sometimes he works all night when the stone is wanted. He attends the Methodist Sunday School at Brimmington. He used to go to the National School. He can write, and has been through the first rules of arithmetic. [The boy appears sharp and cleaver.]
No.466. Samuel Bacon. He is 57 years old and has worked as a collier since he was nine year old. He was born and first worked in Warwickshire. He first headed or assisted an elder brother and had 8d. per day and he has since worked at everything belonging to a pit. For the last nine months he has been quite unable to work owing to asthma. He has had it for two years and attributes it to the “sweet damp” and gunpowder smoke settling in his lungs. He never used his time regularly to work more than 10 hours a day and considers that it is a long time to be underground. He thinks a child ought not to work in a pit before he is 12 years of age. When he was about 24 he was burnt by the wildfire and was blinded for a month and he lost his nails. About three years since the roof fell in and broke his breast bone. He has two sons now working in the pits. The eldest is 24 and is a hammerer and has not been a collier more than three years. He does not consider him so good a collier as he would have been if he had begun earlier. his (Signed) SAMUEL >< BACON mark.