A HISTORY OF VICTORIA COLLIERY

By Jim Worgan

Known locally as The Bull or Black Bull after the name of the nearby village, the Colliery was the last deep mine in the Biddulph Area. The minerals under the Knypersley Hall Estate were leased by Robert Heath from John Bateman in 1857, where 3 shallow shafts existed. Heath developed the Biddulph Valley Colliery around these shafts and instituted a programme of shaft sinking and deepening. No.2 shaft was deepened and became the Magpie Shaft and after further deepening became the Victoria shaft. 2 new shafts called the Deep Pit were served by one winding engine which were subsequently called the Engine and Bye Pits and became known after further deepening as the Havelock Shaft. In 1887 Robert Heath had acquired among other Collieries the Brown Lees Colliery where one shaft was deepened between 1893 and 1895 and an underground connection was made with the Biddulph Valley Colliery (Victoria) at the same time as the Salisbury pumping shaft was being sunk at Victoria. Thus the Victoria Colliery had for most of its working life 3 shafts - Victoria, Havelock and Salisbury.. The shafts at Brown Lees Colliery were retained as pumping Shafts and were filled following the closure of Victoria Colliery in 1982.

Robert Heath also worked the Black Bull and Biddulph Valley Ironworks and also owned the complex (currently Bilston Steel) which after Nationalisation in 1947 became Cowlishaw Walker Ltd.

After declining fortunes principally due to adverse Geological conditions the Colliery closed in 1982 with most of the men being transferred to the long life Collieries in the Area. The site was subsequently opencasted in the late 1980's/early 1990's (Brown Lees site) and many parts of the Ironworks site as well as numerous old shafts were uncovered. In an engine house close to the shafts of the former Brindley Pits (close to Bull Lane in Brindley Ford) a very early steam engine was found and parts of it were recovered. It is believed to be an Aveling and Porter chain engine and full details of the find and subsequent investigation can be found in the Brindley Pits file (Coal Mining and Ironworks in North Staffordshire Volume 7 (Green Binder). The engine was originally in use at Turnhurt Colliery from where it was purchased in 1886.

An internal Railway system connected the Colliery to Birchenwood Colliery in Kidsgrove to where coal was transferred for Gas making purposes and closed as recently as the 1960's.

As mentioned previously, the Salisbury Shaft, 240 yards deep, was the main pumping shaft. Around about 1950, Eddie Davies, one of the pump men commenced painting a series of pictures/portraits of Royalty, Politicians, Landscapes and Bathing Beauties in the Pump house. It is believed that there were at least 14, but I cannot recall whether all 14 were in situ at the same time. When the Colliery closed in 1982 the paintings were still on the walls and presumably they are still there today [March 1997].

See also Old Pits By Geoff Mould

 

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