Collieries In Bardon Mill & Henshaw

Notes of a talk given by John Carrick at Henshaw W.I. Hall, in spring 2000

Blackett Colliery (1873) employed 450 men in the 1920's. The remains of this can be seen at McKenna's Garage. Barcombe Colliery (circa 1855 - 1939) was linked with Bardon Mill via aerial flight. Whitechapel Drift also had an aerial flight which linked it with Morralee railway screens. An old weighbridge is all that remains of the pit at Ramshawfield.

Bardon Mill Colliery

Originally known as Henshaw Colliery until its name change in 1948 (Nationalisation). Mr.Petteril, the Mine Manager, who came from Cumberland, invited Mr.Tomlinson to make the first cut of the turf, with a garden spade in 1938.* Mr.Johnson of Consett sank the first drift which was 340 yds long at a gradient of 1:3. It took two years to sink this before coal was won.

To begin with they used board and pillar techniques and then long wall. In long wall working, coal cutters were undercut by jib holes along the seam which were then shot with gelignite. The coal was, at first, brought out in tubs.

J Benson, Clive Dixon, Derek Wheadon, Percy Mitchinson - a miner's lunch

miners lunch

In the 1960's the colliery produced 3,200 tons of coal per week, 80% of which was sold to Carlisle Power Station, the remainder being sold locally. The colliery employed 40 men at first but by 1950 there were 178 employees and by 1961 there were 327. By 1961, eight faces were being worked. Face workers earned £34. 50 per week in 1972.

Working in water

It was an extremely wet pit. At first, water was a small problem and there were only two pumps. Eventually, water became a major concern and they were using 39 pumps to pump out 2,500 gallons of water per day. The colliery finally closed in 1972; the seams were becoming thinner and were, of course, much further from the drift mouth. Water had become a serious problem since the drift was a mere 300 yds beneath the river; moreover, faults on the south side of the Tyne prevented more coal from being taken.

Engineers working on a water pump: Clive Dixon, Derek Wheadon, Percy Mitchinson & George Pape


In the early days, the offices were in a wooden hut but The Larches was eventually bought as office accommodation. The Managers were; Mr.Petteril, Jim Nancarrow, Ken Sims, Dan Brookes and, finally, Dennis Partis.

Thanks to Maureen Brook for making these notes.

The photographs are the property of Clive Dixon & Family

There were several pits in Bardon Mill. The last pit closed in 1973. A monument to the miners is now to the side of the community hall in Redburn Park, which is where the Bardon Mill Colliery used to be. The monument is a loaded coal wagon.

*Billy Thomlinson also laid the last soil closing the pit in 1973.