The township of Dukinfield was centred on the estates of Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley and his successors where there were rich seams of coal below ground. Originally, the Dunkirk Coal Company worked several mines on these estates and its mining interests broadly fell into two parts, a northern group and a southern group that extended into the neighbouring township of Newton.
Dunkirk Colliery (aka Chapel Pit) (Grid Ref: SJ 93494 98122)
The earliest reference to this colliery is in the Minute Book of the Peak Forest Canal Company in 1820. It is also shown on the Tithe Map of 1850. Coal mined here was loaded into boats at Chapel Basin.
Dog Lane Colliery (Grid Ref: SJ 93709 98021)
This colliery is shown on the Tithe Map of 1850 but the shaft must have been sunk at about the same time as that of Dunkirk Colliery. It was about 260 yards distant from Dunkirk Colliery at a bearing of 115˚ from due north. Coal mined here was loaded into boats at Chapel Basin.
Dewsnap Colliery (Grid Ref: SJ 93903 97005)
This was the earliest colliery in this group and it was connected by tramway to a coal basin on the offside of the Peak Forest Canal. The route of this tramway was the most direct possible. The Tithe Map of 1850 shows that by this time the tramway and coal basin had been abandoned and replaced by a longer tramway to Dog Lane Basin immediately to the north of Dog Lane Bridge. Later, the original coal basin was filled in.
This colliery closed to make way for the construction of the Dewsnap Sidings of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.
Dewsnap New Pit (aka Dewsnap Pit) (Grid Ref: SJ 93652 97040)
This pit replaced the earlier Dewsnap Colliery and it was sunk in 1845/46. It was about 273 yards distant from Dewsnap Colliery at a bearing of 278˚ from due north and it was connected by tramway to Dewsnap Basin and to the main line of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.
Astley Deep Pit (aka Astley New Pit or Astley Pit) (Grid Ref: SJ 93833 97240)
This pit was sunk in 1847 and it was connected by tramway to Dewsnap Basin and to the main line of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.
Plain Pit (Grid Ref: SJ 93829 96308)
Plain Pit was situated on the offside of the canal a short distance to the south of the Newton Wood Private Branch and Newton Wood Stop Place in the township of Newton. The earliest known reference to it is in September 1835.
Victoria Colliery (Grid Ref: SJ 944 972)
This colliery was situated in the township of Newton Wood and it was connected by tramway to the north side of the Newton Wood Private Branch Canal. The earliest known reference to it is in the Minute Book of the Peak Forest Canal Company in March 1801 concerning the tramway to be constructed from the colliery to the canal. At this time the lessees of the colliery were Messrs Bateman and Sherratt. They were still the lessees in December 1821 when the committee of the Peak Forest Canal Company gave notice to the landowner, Francis Astley, to erect a stop gate across the Newton Wood Private Branch. Evidently, the canal company was worried about the risks of subsidence below the canal due to coal extraction.
The Dukinfield Coal Company sank shafts in Flowery Field on the east side of the canal and in May 1832 they gave notice that they proposed to extract coal at a depth of 50 yards from below the canal. In January 1833 the canal company decided to raise the canal banks by two feet instead of buying the coal below the canal. Later, the coal company sank shafts on the west side of the canal as well.
The most notable pit on the east side of the canal was Flowery Field Pit (Approx. Grid Ref: SJ 944 957), which worked the Black Mine. This pit was connected by tramway to south side of the Newton Wood Private Branch Canal. On the 8 April 1842 this was the scene of the Black Mine disaster when 17 men were killed in an explosion.
The complex of Dukinfield Coal Companies
The first Dukinfield Coal Company was founded with a partnership of Henry Swire, Henry Lees and John Stanley. In 1834 John Stanley left the partnership to leave Samuel Swire and Henry Lees as partners. See Notice 1 below.
The second Dunkirk Coal Company was founded with a partnership of George J Newton, Robert Ashton, Elizabeth Ashton, Samuel Ashton, James Ashton and Stephen Taylor. The Ashton family was a well-known family of mill owners in Flowery Field and Woodley and it is known that they also had coal interests. In 1847 Stephen Taylor left the partnership to leave George J Newton, Robert Ashton, Elizabeth Ashton, Samuel Ashton and James Ashton as partners. See Notice 2 below.
The second Dunkirk Coal Company was then taken over by the Dukinfield Coal Company and after incorporation as a limited company it traded as the Dukinfield Coal & Cannel Company Ltd. See Notice 3 below concerning the winding up of this company.
It then traded as the Dukinfield (New) Coal and Cannel Company Limited. Both the Dukinfield (New) Coal and Cannel Company Limited and Dukinfield Collieries Ltd co-existed and were wound up on the same day. See Notices 4 and 5 below concerning the winding up of these companies.
The sequence of limited company incorporations is shown in the table below. The rationale behind there being two Dukinfield Coal and Cannel Companies, incorporated two years apart, is uncertain. Possibly it was brought about by restructuring and on completion the earlier company was dissolved.
In the above references, 'BT' refers to records of the Board of Trade and its successors.
Astley Deep Pit closed on the 7 August 1901 and Chapel Pit (aka Dunkirk Colliery), Dewsnap New Pit and Victoria Colliery all closed in c.1901. During the 1890s they collectively employed about 1,100 men.
Following their closure, operations to fill the shafts commenced in September 1903 the work being undertaken by Underwood Brothers, Contractors. In the case of Dewsnap New Pit, the work was done to prepare the site for the new Carriage and Waggon Works of the Great Central Railway Company. When this work was completed it was 28 acres in extent, including Dewsnap Sidings.
Gazette Notices for Dukinfield Coal Companies