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Garforth's Private Branch

Lower Peak Forest Canal

This branch is also known as the Alma Street Private Branch.

Garforth's Private Branch
Lower Peak Forest Canal

Grid Ref: SJ 936 983
Tithe Map: 1850, Ref: EDT 143/2
Courtesy: Cheshire Archives & Local Studies

Garforth’s Private Branch took its name from the firm of Messrs W., J. & J. Garforth, whose premises were situated close to this branch in Dukinfield. The partnership was founded by three brothers, William Garforth (1799/1800-1874), John Garforth (1803/04-1850) and James Garforth (1805/06-1876), who were all born in Yorkshire. At some point they moved to Dukinfield to establish their business. They operated as engineers, ironfounders and cotton spinners. On the 21 August 1850, John Garforth resigned from the business and he died shortly afterwards.

The firm was innovative and it petitioned the Offices of the Commissioners of Patents and Inventions regarding its products. For instance:

1854: ----- for certain improvements in mechanism or apparatus for retarding or stopping the motion of locomotive engines and other railway carriages.
1859: ----- for certain improvements in metallic pistons.
1863: ----- for certain improvements in preparing, beetling (finishing) textile fabrics such as cotton, wool, linen, or other fibrous materials.

The 1851 census records that William and James were both living on Wharf Street, Dukinfield. It also informs that the business was organised in two parts, employing 80 mechanics and iron founders in an engineering works and 60 men, 83 women, 20 boys and 40 girls in a cotton spinning mill.

In 1856 the firm ventured into coal mining when it commenced sinking shafts for a new mine situated in Lord’s Fields, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Benjamin Miller was appointed as the superintendent of works. This opened on the 27 January 1858 as the Lords Field Colliery Company. The 1861 census records that Benjamin Miller (1805/06-1875) was born in Yorkshire and that he was living in Turner Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, which is close to the colliery on the opposite side of the railway line. He recorded his occupation as a colliery underlooker.

The opening of the new colliery was reported in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Saturday, 30 January 1858.

Lords Field Colliery

Some interest was manifested on Wednesday (27 January 1858) by parties who went to witness the getting of the first load of coal obtained from the above pit. The colliery is situate within a few hundred yards of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Station at Ashton (Oldham Road Station) and is likely to be of great service to the locality. The pit was commenced in August 1856 and is sunk on a piece of land known as Lord's Fields.

After obtaining a depth of 64 yards the miners came to a gravel bed 8 feet in thickness and here they met with a spring of water which came upon them at the rate of from 12,000 to 14,000 gallons per hour and increased to 18,000 gallons at which rate it has since continued to flow. On getting through the bed of gravel they went through hard rock for a distance of 60 yards. They were enabled to do by two large and very efficient engines having been put down, one of 200 horsepower. These were kept constantly at work day and night pumping out the water. At a depth of only 140 yards they came to what is termed the ‘Great Mine’, which is 6-feet thick, of good clear coal, suitable for household or engine purpose. It is expected that the men will be able to get to the bottom of Roger Mine, which is about 30 yards lower, by Whitsuntide. This mine, which is 4-feet thick, is the same seam of coal as that got the Dunkirk Coal Company in Dukinfield and has only been very partially worked on any part of the Earl of Stamford's estates. It is considered to be the best which this district supplies.

The contiguity (bordering) of the above colliery to Ashton will save much carriage and prove highly advantageous to the public. The projected line of railway from Ashton to Oldham† will, if made, come within a very short distance from the new pit.

The proprietors, Messrs Garforth’s of Dukinfield, the eminent machinists, have spared no expense in putting up the best engines and other machinery suitable to make the works complete in every respect. Mr Benjamin Miller has superintended the works.

The new bridge erected over the river Tame, connecting Dukinfield with Ashton, was erected chiefly to enable the manufacturers to obtain coal from the collieries in Dukinfield now, however, they will be supplied with the same description of coal almost at their own mill doors in Ashton.

†This was the Oldham, Ashton & Guide Bridge Junction Railway. Lord’s Field’s Colliery was situated beside this branch line on its western side and a short distance to the north of Oldham Road Railway Station. This line opened on the 25 August 1861 and it passed through Park Bridge to terminate at Clegg Street Railway Station in Oldham.

The date of closure of Lords Field Colliery is uncertain but the little evidence available suggests that it was not open for very long. Maybe the underground spring water mentioned in the newspaper report was proving too great a problem to manage in the long term as the workings were subjected to constant flooding. The first reported mining accident occurred in 1860 and the last was in 1872. It is, therefore, probable that the mine closed sometime in the 1870s.

Known fatalities at Lords Field Colliery, 1860-1872

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