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Boythorpe Collieries.

Boythorpe Colliery SK 36/37 37997010
Boythorpe Vale Colliery SK 36/37 378685
New Riber Colliery SK 36/37 377707

There have been a succession of collieries and therefore owners of the Boythorpe collieries. John Farey writing in 1811 gives mention to George Booker who was the coal and iron agent for the Smith family enterprises at Boythorpe colliery and who charted the Brimington anticline and the coal bassets in the area. (This Booker may have been related to the shaft sinking Bookers of the Barlow collieries fifty or so years earlier).

A local trades directory mentions Luke Ludlam at the colliery in 1862 along with John Oldfield this gives rise to my suggestion that more than one colliery existed at Boythorpe (Francis White & co. Directory for 1862). During the depression of the coal industry in the 1880's the Boythorpe colliery company was wound up in 1887, but the colliery continued in production under new ownership. The 1914 O.S. Map shows Boythorpe colliery closed but New Riber colliery was still working on Boyhorpe Lane under the ownership of the New Riber colliery company with William Spooner at its head. (Bulmer & co. Directory 1895). Employing 22 men underground and 4 on the surface managed by John Wheelhouse.

In 1880 Boythorpe Lane colliery is owned and operated by the Chesterfield and Boythorpe Coal Company.

In 1896 Boythorpe No's 1 & 2 collieries were owned by the Boythorpe Colliery Company and employed 231 men underground and 73 men on the surface, managed by Jacob Pearce. The colliery producing household and machine coals from the Tupton and Silkstone seams.

In July 1882 the Manager of Boythorpe colliery Michael Straw was fined ten shillings and ordered to pay costs of £2:1s:6d For contravening section eighteen of fine Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1872 for not allowing Patrick McDermot to perform his duty as a checkweightman Another report compiled in 1890 concluded that other collieries in the area allowed the miners time for meals, but at the Boythorpe colliery no time was allowed for meals at all.

Once the property of Michael Straw manager of Boythorpe colliery. Clearly Michael Straw was a stout man as the cane is unusually thick. It is in a group lot of canes I am selling (estimate $800-1200) at auction in Philadelphia on the 29th of January 2013.

David Walker
Department Head
English & Continental Furniture, Silver and Decorative Arts
Samuel T. Freeman & co.
1808 Chestnut St
PA 19103

Copyright as above, with thanks.

Other collieries in this area were, Boythorpe Vale colliery, Boythorpe House colliery, Brampton colliery, Fieldhouse colliery, New Brampton colliery and New Riber colliery. The 'Mount' of the Saint Augustine’s housing estate is in fact a spoil heap from one of the Boythorpe collieries.

In June 1866 New Brampton Colliery advertised in the Derbyshire Times. 'The pit is now prepared to receive 50 additional colliers, weekly paid dry work. Good steady workmen can have constant employment summer and winter'.

Derbyshire Times. 9th. February 1856.

Messrs. Hoskin, Knowles and Co. Respectfully inform the public that they are supplying the coal at 5/- per ton ex-pit.

Derbyshire Times. 16th. October 1858.

Having undergone thorough repairs, parties may now rely on being supplied with coals and slack in any quantity and superior quality to any previously offered at the above colliery at the lowest prices. Applications for prices to be made to Mr. Spray at the machine opposite the gas house. A. & L. Ludlam.

Derbyshire Times. 2nd. January 1886.

On Christmas Eve a sad and fatal accident to Mr. John Harrison secretary and manager of the Boythorpe colliery company LTD occurred. he was only appointed to the post about three months ago in succession to Mr. G.J. Wood who had left and took up residence in London.

It appears that the colliery has two shafts one for the Blackshale and one for the Tupton seams. They are 200/300 yards apart and are connected on the surface by 2 lines of railway that cross the main road from Chesterfield to Matlock.

For hauling the wagons about a small locomotive owned by the company is used and on Thursday evening this locomotive was at the Tupton pit at about 6:15 pm. just as Mr. Harrison was proceeding to his residence in Whitecotes only a short distance from the crossing. He walked on and just as he was passing over the crossing the engine which he had apparently on account of the fog prevailing had not observed had been put in motion came up suddenly and struck him.

He was 42 years of age and leaves a widow and seven children.

the engine went across to the Tupton pit at 6:15 pm. and it crossed the road in order to get a little speed to push the tubs up the incline to the coke ovens. Mr. William Blanche Hodgeson Boythorpe House colliery manager said his attention had never been called to the crossing in question nor had any complaint been made.

Derbyshire Courier. 27th December 1890.

Few companies give so much encouragement to their employees as Messrs Brewis Bros. the proprietors of Boythorpe Colliery. Sometime ago they gave several treats to numerous London and Chesterfield workmen. Not long ago Mrs. Samuel Brewis paid a visit to the colliery at Boythorpe and was struck with the condition of the ponies that were employed down the pit. She at once devised a plan by which the matter could be resolved. The Boythorpe Collieries belonging to Messrs Samuel, Thomas and Herrington Brewis and the wives of the gentlemen agreed to give several prizes to the boys who treated their with kindness and kept them in the best conditions. The first prize was to consist of a silver lever watch and the remainder to be money prizes. Mr. Pearce the genial and kindly manager assisted by the under manger Mr. Smith and deputies employed at the colliery had the difficult task of judging the ponies which had been done by examining every pony each evening and their decisions have given every satisfaction. On Tuesday afternoon as the pony drivers were leaving work they were called into the joiners shop and Mr. George Brewis made a presentation. There were also present a number of the officials and workmen.

Derbyshire Times. 4th May 1878.

On Wednesday morning an outburst of gas occurred at the Chesterfield and Boythorpe Colliery Co. by which between 300/400 colliers narrowly escaped with their lives and have for sometime been throw out of employment. The men went to work at the usual hour of the morning at about 7.00a.m. The roof of the workings got on what is called the “dead weight” in the south workings caused by the falling in of the strata and a large quantity of gas more than the ordinary ventilation was capable of dealing with became dislodged from its position.

A man in the underground engine room was first to notice the presence of the explosive gas by seeing fire in his lamp. He immediately sent the alarm along the whole workings and all the naked lamps and lights were extinguished. There was a general rush of the men to the bottom of the shaft and the whole of the men were conveyed to the surface fortunately without any suffering any injury. If the gas which had been released, taken fire a terrible explosion must have followed, the quantity of gas in the pit is estimated to have been something about 400,000 feet and extended over an area of two miles of workings.

So precipitous was the rush by the men to get out of the pit that a large proportion of them came to the bank in a state of almost semi nudity and had to borrow sacks and cloths and anything that could be converted into covering to walk home in.

If the prompt action in extinguishing all lights when the alarm was given had not been carried out the consequences would in all probability been the sacrifice of 300 lives.

2nd March 1878.

In reference to the extraordinary robbery of Mr. G. J. Wood cashier of the Chesterfield and Boythorpe Colliery Co. of £1,000. On Friday a daring robbery was committed at The Midland Railway Station Derby in remarkable circumstances. For many months past an accountant in the service of the colliery company has gone to Derby to meet a gentleman from the Bank of Burton from which he received a sum of £1,000 for the purpose of paying wages at the colliery. On Friday shortly before noon the usual transfer of cash took place. The accountant then proceeded to the refreshment bar on the platform for a few moments then returned to the Chesterfield train as was his custom and deposited the two bags containing £1,000 in gold and silver on the seat of the carriage, on the same seat was another bag belonging to Mr. Williams of Birmingham a director of the colliery company.

The accountant walked up and down the platform conversing with Mr. Williams. Upon casting a glance into the carriage their suspicion that anything was wrong was no way aroused as the two bags and that of Mr. Williams looked all right. There can, however, be the slightest doubt that during this conversation the two thieves had been closely familiar of the cashier’s movements and entered the carriage from the offside and replaced the bags of gold and silver by two other bags similar in size and shape exactly corresponding with those of the colliery company. Two men were seen to enter the offside of the railway carriage at the supposed time of the robbery when no notice was taken of them they withdrew. Just before the starting of the train to Chesterfield the cashier had occasion to lift the bags and was shocked on discovering the substitution.

Information was passed to the railway authorities that lost no time telegraphing Nottingham and elsewhere. During the day Mr. Williams returned to Burton and made arrangements for the withdrawal of more money in order to discharge the payments of wages to the colliery people.

30th November 1878.

A free pardon has been granted to one of the prisoners George Wright who was sentenced to five years penal servitude at the Derby assizes for being concerned in the robbery of £920 from Mr. Wood secretary of the Chesterfield and Boythorpe Colliery Co. at Derby Midland Station in February last.

Derbyshire Courier. 22nd October 1904

Alarming Colliery Explosion At Chesterfield. (Riber Colliery).

Damage to the extent of £1,000 or more, was done by an explosion which occurred on Thursday night about six o’clock at the Riber Colliery, in Boythorpe Lane, Chesterfield. This colliery, which is a small one employing about 50 hands when worked to its fullest capacity, is owned by Councillor Wm Spooner, and was opened out by him about ten years ago. The workings are entered by means of an inclined tunnel, or footrill, about 100 yards in length. No machinery of any kind has been employed in the pit. The coal has been hauled along the easy gradient of the footrill, and the air-current in the roads has been generated by means of a furnace fire directly beneath the upcast air- shaft on the summit of Boythorpe Hill.

Some four months ago the work of coal getting was suspended for the summer in consequence of the depression in the soft coal trade. The fire producing the air-current was left to burn itself out in the furnace. Six weeks ago the alarming discovery was made that the coal measures in the vicinity of the air- shaft were on fire and it is considered that there ignition was due to the furnace fire in some way. An attempt was made to smother out the flames by sealing up both the footrill tunnel and the airshaft, but at the end of a month it was found that the fire was still progressing. Mr. Spooner then decided to employ a gang of men to approach the flames and suppress them if possible from the direction of the entrance tunnel.

Day by day the men approached nearer and nearer to the locality of the fire, but the constant increase of the heat rendered their task increasingly heavy each day, until, of late, it had become well nigh impossible to proceed further with it. The half dozen men employed in the workings on Wednesday suffered so severely from the intensity of the heat that they were in a state of physical exhaustion on leaving the pit. On Thursday morning, however, the task of combating the flames was resumed by three men, William Milner of Walton, the manager, J. Tomlin and James Mellor, both of Brampton. They stuck at their task until about half past three in the afternoon, by which time the heat had become altogether unbearable, and therefore they left the workings and made their way to the surface. On the road there one of the men made the remark that he would not be surprised if an explosion occurred before morning.

On reaching the surface they proceeded as usual to close up the tunnel mouth, so as to shut off as far as possible current likely to feed the flames and left the premises.

Two hours later a terrific explosion occurred. The shock was so severe as to be felt all over the western parts of the town, and Councillor Spooner at his residence in Goldwell Hill heard the report and very shortly afterwards was apprised of its cause and its significance. The severity of the explosion was such as to break several windows of houses and buildings in the immediate locality of Boythorpe Lane.

The noise and shock were of so alarming a character as to bring hundreds of people out into the streets in search of the cause. Darkness had set in by then, but on ascertaining the meaning of the explosion, large numbers of people began to assemble in the vicinity of the colliery sheds; Inspector Evans and two or three of the Borough Police Force arrived at the scene of the explosion within a few minutes of its occurrence and kept back the crowd of curious spectators. Notwithstanding the darkness the crowd of sightseers were able to perceive that the riddling sheds and timber staging at the pithead had been totally destroyed, but it was only when lanterns had been procured were the full surface evidences of the explosion completely revealed. Mr. Spooner was on the scene within half an hour and took charge of the exploration party. They discovered that the whole of the footrill extending from the entrance for fully 50 yards up the slope of the hill had been split open and the large segments of brickwork had been ploughed up and spread on either side like a gigantic furrow.

The whole of the head works and approaches had thus been totally destroyed, the timberwork being smashed to match wood. It is supposed that the damage done to the timbering in the roadways must also be very considerable but the extent to which this had suffered could not of course be ascertained at the time of writing but will become apparent when His Majesty’s Inspector of Mines Mr. A. H. Stokes makes his investigation. The matter was reported to him the same evening and he will in all probability visit the pit today.

As we have previously stated the only three men employed in the pit left the locality at four p.m. and none of the horses used for haulage purposes were stabled either in or near it fortunately, therefore, there was a total absence of loss of life or injury to man or beast which is so often associated with colliery disasters of a similar character. Mr. Spooner’s losses, we understand are not covered by insurance in the slightest extent.

As to the cause of the explosion, although several theories have been advanced, the most tenable appears to be that which attributes it to the gradual accumulation of gas due to the combustion of the coal measures. The coal, which is described as the “Tupton three quarter” house coal, contains a large percentage of gas and used to some extent for gas manufacturing purposes. The supposition is that the gas accumulated after the cessation of work, at a greater rate than had previously been the case, probably owing to atmospheric changes, and being driven on to the burning seam caused the explosion.
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