Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Duke Pit fan house

A Scheduled Monument in Whitehaven, Cumbria

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.5474 / 54°32'50"N

Longitude: -3.5942 / 3°35'39"W

OS Eastings: 296971.84334

OS Northings: 518069.249241

OS Grid: NX969180

Mapcode National: GBR 3HBV.NP

Mapcode Global: WH5Z1.RYNT

Entry Name: Duke Pit fan house

Scheduled Date: 6 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016090

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27782

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Whitehaven

Built-Up Area: Whitehaven

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Whitehaven St James

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the Duke Pit fan house, a 19th century vaulted brick and
sandstone structure designed to resemble a medieval castle, which was used to
house a Guibal fan for ventilating the now disused Duke Pit coal mine. It is
located on a hillside terrace above Whitehaven's South Harbour immediately
north of the junction of Rosemary Lane and Harbour View. Upstanding and buried
remains of the asssociated engine house are also included.
The building is aligned north west-south east and has overall measurements
of approximately 20m by 12m. The steam-driven wooden fan measured 11m in
diameter by 3.1m wide and one of its metal axle mountings still survives in-
situ inside the brick-lined fan compartment. Sandstone paving slabs front the
fan compartment on its south west side. The south end of the building has been
constructed in the style of a rectangular crenellated sandstone tower; it
measures c.5m by 3m and up to 10m high, while at the building's northern end
there is a sub-circular crenellated sandstone tower standing up to c.5m high.
At the junction of the sub-circular tower and fan house there is stone-roofed
porch with a doorway giving access into the tower. Joist-holes in the north
east-facing outer wall of the fan house are associated with an engine house
within which was located the steam engine which drove the fan, this building
was largely demolished in 1969. However, part of one wall still survives; it
is connected to the fan house by an arch and contains a blocked doorway which
gave access into a passageway leading into the sub-circular tower. Two metal
housings for holding machinery still remain at the southern end of the
surviving wall. The location of the demolished part of the engine house is
still visible as a level terrace beneath which foundations will survive. The
fan house was constructed about 1862 and eventually became surrounded by other
buildings associated with the mine. It was exposed to view again during
demolition of the surrounding buildings in 1969 and has since been
consolidated and displayed as a landscape feature.
The surface of the pavement on the monument's west side, together with modern
metal railings on the south west side of the fan-wheel pit, are excluded from
the scheduling although the stone work to which the railings are fixed is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000
coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war
nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four
coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national
archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of
national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a
comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the
industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result
of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a
prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically
consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The
simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap.
Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may
include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts,
boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops,
pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of
later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was
sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites.
Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this
has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England
to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and
characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north
Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the
better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and
technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual
component features are considered to merit protection.

The Duke Pit fan house together with upstanding and buried remains of its
associated engine house survives well. The fan house accommodated a Guibal
fan, the most common form of late 19th century mine ventilation, and the
building is complete and retains important technological information
associated with a large steam-driven fan. It is the best surviving example of
Guibal fan house in the country.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chapman, N A, 'Industrial Archaeology Review' in Ventilation of Mines, , Vol. XV 1, (1992), 45-57
Coal Industry Step 3 Report, Cranstone, D, Duke Pit Fan House,
SMR No. 4166, Cumbria SMR, Duke Pit Fan House, Colliery, (1985)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.