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Astley Green Colliery: engine house and headgear

A Scheduled Monument in Astley Mosley Common, Wigan

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Latitude: 53.4956 / 53°29'43"N

Longitude: -2.4467 / 2°26'48"W

OS Eastings: 370459.331641

OS Northings: 399964.849212

OS Grid: SJ704999

Mapcode National: GBR CXC0.2N

Mapcode Global: WH987.DD3L

Entry Name: Astley Green Colliery: engine house and headgear

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017061

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32565

County: Wigan

Electoral Ward/Division: Astley Mosley Common

Built-Up Area: Walkden

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Astley St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: Manchester


The colliery at Astley Green was begun in 1908 by the Pilkington Colliery
Company and opened for extraction of coal in 1912. In 1928 the colliery was
amalgamated with a number of local pits to form part of the consortium called
Manchester Collieries. In 1947 the coal industry was nationalised and this
led to considerable modernisation of the mine. After 23 years of operation
under the National Coal Board the mine was closed in 1970. It is now a
The mine supplied coal to Manchester and Liverpool by train and via the
Bridgewater Canal and Manchester Ship Canal, as well as supplying a local
market for industrial and domestic requirements. Later the pit sent coal to
power stations at Trafford and Stretford.
The monument includes the pit headgear for the number 1 shaft, the concrete
thrust pillar for the `tubbing' which supports the headgear and the steam
winding engine in its original engine house for the number 1 shaft.
The first shaft on this site (the number 1 shaft) was sunk by the Pilkington
Colliery Company in 1908. Because the ground was unstable and wet the shaft
was sunk using a pioneering method known as `drop shaft' in which the hole is
dropped using forged iron rings with a cutting shoe at the bottom of each
ring. These `tubbing' rings were forced into the underlying soils by the use
of hydraulic jacks braced under a concrete thrust pillar. This pillar now
supports the headgear. The shaft was bored into the ground until stable
strata could support the shaft unaided. This was at a depth of 35m.
The headgear is a steel lattice construction, rivetted together, and stands
24.4m high. It was built by Head Wrightson of Stockton on Tees and completed
in 1912. The two winding pulleys are 20m in diameter.
The winding engine which served this shaft is one of the largest steam winding
engines in Britain. It was made by Yates and Thom of Blackburn. It has four
cylinders in twin tandem compound arrangement developing 3300 horsepower at 58
rpm. The engine was installed by 1912 and took two years to complete. It is
connected to a bicylindro-conical drum which in turn was connected to the
headgear pulleys to wind up the coal and wind down the mining personnel and
maintenance supplies.
At the height of its working life the number one shaft was putting out eight
tons of coal every two minutes. During the 1950s the efficiency of this
colliery was supposed to ensure the future of coal extraction on this site for
the foreseeable future. In fact, the rising costs of extracting coal led to
the closure of the mine in 1970.
Most of the remainder of the colliery buildings and a second shaft with its
gear have been destroyed. Part of the pit head is attached to the platform
under the headgear but this has lost most of its railtrack and all the loading
gear. Consequently the scheduling includes the top 10m of the shaft, the
concrete thrust pillar, the headgear and the winding engine inside its engine
building. The winding house and the winding tower are Grade II Listed

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 remains of the coalpit at Astley Green have two surviving elements of
importance. The latticed headgear still stands intact in a landscape which
has lost almost all traces of the coal industry. It is connected to one of
the largest steam winding engines in its horizontal engine house in Britain
and only ten of these now survive. The shaft of the underlying pit was an
example of pioneering engineering for its time, having been sunk through
layers of unstable strata and sands to reach the coal seams. The `tubbing' for
the shaft survives underground and can be exposed for the public should the
museum which has been founded on this site develop further. The rarity of the
survival of the headgear and the equally rare survival of the engine make this
an important site in the historical analysis of the coal extraction industry.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
A Brief History of Astley Green Colliery, (1998)
A Brief History of Astley Green Colliery, (1998), 4
A Brief History of Astley Green Colliery, (1998), 6
A Brief History of Astley Green Colliery, (1998), 5-7

Source: Historic England

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