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Home > Mines, Quarries & Sites > Haunchwood Coal Mine

Haunchwood Coal Mine (United Kingdom)

Extract from Coventry Evening Telegraph on 16 Jan 1999, written by Peter Lee:

"Haunchwood (Nowells) Colliery was one of the oldest pit workings in Warwickshire, and records indicate it was producing coal in 1729.
Throughout its early history there are notes of leases, and by 1801 the collection of individual pits making up the colliery were reckoned to be producing between 200 and 300 tons each week.
By this time the pit had developed a railroad of sorts, with waggons hauled by horses down to the wharf on the Coventry Canal.
My first record of ownership goes back to about 1820 when Peter Unger Williams, born in Devon but practising as a lawyer in the City of London, became coalmaster.
How a London lawyer came to be managing a Warwickshire coal mine I have no idea. Especially one who married Caroline Brown (nee St Barbe), a lady of some standing.
The St Barbe's were a noble family descended from European royalty!
Nevertheless it was a good marriage, and as owners of Haunchwood Colliery, brick and tile makers and farmers of 36 acres in Stockingford, they made their home at Haunchwood House.
After the death of Peter in 1837 the pit was variously managed by his wife Caroline, and his son John McTaggart Williams.
Caroline also managed Charity Colliery in Bedworth, which the family ran until 1858.
After the Williams family relinquished control of Haunchwood pit its ownership passed to John Nowell in the early 1850s.
The Nowells came from Wednesbury in Staffordshire and they continued to have a connection with the colliery for the next 70 years.
The early horse-drawn railroad was in service until the Nuneaton to Whitacre Junction branch of the Midland Railway came into use.
A new branch line was laid to the new main line, and it became known as The Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company's Siding.
The title came about because the colliery shared a track with the adjacent brickworks. The signal cabin at the junction was known as Nowell's Siding.
There are no records revealing how the new branch worked, but almost surely the colliery company purchased an old second-hand steam tank engine from one of the principle railway companies which generally speaking had plenty of surplus stock around at that time.
John Nowell passed the colliery onto his son William who died in November 1873 at the age of 47. In turn he left it to his son also known as William.
In the 1880s the company, now with the name John Nowell and Son, failed because of the prevailing climate in trade.
Another Staffordshire man, Sir Alfred Hickman the great coal owner and industrialist took over, and from that day forward Haunchwood Collieries Limited made great progress.
Another pit was sunk at Stockingford known as the Tunnel Pit which started to mine coal in 1891.
Certainly from those days the railway to the colliery was worked by steam engine, and a precious but fragile photo exists of an old long funnelled steamer outside the loco shed.
The trackage is roughly laid and dumb buffered wagons of a crude type lie around the yard complete, with sprags of wood which were lobbed under the wheels to stop them from rolling.
By the turn of the century the previous branch line, which had been laid through the brick stock yard, had become so congested with clayware traffic that a new line had to be built to the outside of the site.
A total of four engines appear to have worked Nowells Colliery. Details of numbers one and two are sketchy, but we do know about number three which was built by Hawthorne Leslie in 1901 and sold in 1925 to Measham Collieries on closure of the colliery.
And number four, named Haunchwood, built by Andrew Barclays of Kilmarnock in 1911, was transferred to Haunchwood Tunnel Pit in 1925.
On July 7, 1925 Nowells Colliery ceased coal winding and two submersible pumps were fitted down the shafts.
These were used to keep the Tunnel Pit's seams free of water. They were retained until the colliery closed on March 25, 1967.
Coal for these was delivered at first by a trip engine working down the branch. Then after 1941 heavy goods road vehicles were used.
Between 1925 and 1941 an agreement was reached whereby the adjacent brickworks engine was used to deliver the wagons of coal.
When the brickworks closed all the track was lifted including the truncated remains of the Nowells Colliery branch."

Photos of Haunchwood Coal Mine

Historic Photographs Of Haunchwood
Historic Photographs Of Haunchwood (0 photos)
Last updated July 1st 2007 by Barney
Photographs Of Haunchwood
Photographs Of Haunchwood (0 photos)
Last updated July 1st 2007 by Barney

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Major Mining Region

Haunchwood Coal Mine belongs to the Warwickshire region.

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