The Coal Mines and Pits of Heywood

There was once over 200 coal openings in Heywood, although it is important to distinguish between mines and pits. A ‘mine’ referred to a coal seam, which might have several pit shafts or tunnels dug into it. Each one of these pits and tunnels had their own name but were all part of the same overall mine.

The entirety of the coal seam, pits and tunnels and surface buildings were together known as a colliery, and coal miners were colliers. 

The extent of mine openings can be seen in a series of Coal Authority maps (below) that indicate hundreds of small or larger vertical shafts as well as ‘adits’, which are the entrances to horizontal tunnels.

Heywood central

Pilsworth area

Knowl Hill area

Birtle area

Hopwood area

Bamford/Norden area

Collieries and pits in Heywood and surrounds included (among others):
  • Hopwood Colliery (Nancy Pit) (near current de la Salle College) 
  • Ashworth Colliery (included Ridd Pit, Wheel, Flash Lane, Crawstone Rake, Tramping Cat and Engine Pit) 
  • Birtle Colliery (Bassey Mine, Birtle Dene, Halfpenny Hole, Carr Pit, Cob House Lane, Lumb, Openshaw, Smethurst Hall, Thorneyhurst, Red Bank, Castle Hill Quarry) 
  • Captain Fold (Woodlands Road/Barley Hall St.) 
  • Bowling Green, Hardfield/Church St. 
  • Wolstenholme (Wolstenholme Fold, Four Lane Ends, Baitings) 
  • Ladder, Norden 
  • Gristlehurst, Simpson Clough 
  • Knowl Hill area (Lower Knowl Pit, East Knowl, Lower End Knowl, Knowl Hill, Bungs Pits, Red Lumb, Cheesden, Cheesden Bridge, Hind Clough, Greenbooth Pit, Meadow Head and Bamford Closes) 
  • Hooley Clough 
  • Lomax Wood 
  • Barlows Coal Pits, Pilsworth 
  • Wind Hill Pit, Ashworth Road

There were at least 20 pits/tunnels along the Cheesden Valley, and an outcrop of the Holcombe Brook seam can still be seen at Cheesden Pasture today.

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