Coal Mining in Cleator Moor began in 1788, when William Walker leased
an Egremont Royalty. The lease included all the coals from the Ehen to
Keekle and was later extended for a further 31 years from 1792.
Richard Barker and George Harrison took over an Egremont Royalty and
raised 1,754 tons of coal in 1836. Whinney Hill Pit was sunk in 1839
and found main band coal 9 feet thick at a depth of 114 fathoms in
1843. They then sub leased the colliery to Whitehaven Haematite Iron
Company to provide fuel for their Cleator Iron Works.
A new Colliery at Cleator Moor began in 1846 when the Threapwaite Coal
Company (Messer’s Ainsworth and Hartley) sank Threapthwaite Colliery
in a Lonsdale Royalty where Bannock and Main Band were worked until
Hope Pit in Cleator moor was sunk in 1861by the Whitehaven Haematite
Iron Company to further fuel their iron works, and No 2 Pit was sunk
Whinney Hill was exhausted by in 1863 and used thereafter for pumping purpose
Bowthorn Colliery, Cleator Moor a Lonsdale Royalty was worked by John
Litt and Co from 1802 until 1815 when work ceased.
Thomas Ainsworth leased Bowthorn Colliery for 14 years from 1858 at an
annual rent of £20. In 1869 this colliery was taken over by the
Whitehaven Heamatite Iron Company until 1894 when production stopped
and it was finally abandoned in 1897. Nearby John Stirling sank
Montreal Pit in 1862.
Montreal Pit was unique in the country in that it was both a coal and
Iron Mine, both being drawn through the same shaft. Coal was produced
at Montreal Pit until 1918.
Cleator Moor by Norman Nicholson
From one shaft at Cleator Moor
They mined for coal and iron ore.
This harvest below ground could show
Black and red currants on one tree.
In furnaces they burnt the coal,
The ore was smelted into steel,
And railway lines from end to end
Corseted the bulging land.
Pylons sprouted on the fells,
Stakes were driven in like nails,
And the ploughed fields of Devonshire
Were sliced with the steel of Cleator Moor.
The land waxed fat and greedy too,
It would not share the fruits it grew,
And coal and ore, as sloe and plum,
Lay black and red for jamming time.
The pylons rusted on the fells,
The gutters leaked beside the walls,
And women searched the ebb-tide tracks
For knobs of coal or broken sticks.
But now the pits are wick with men,
Digging like dogs dig for a bone:
For food and life we dig the earth –
In Cleator Moor they dig for death.
Every wagon of cold steel
Is fire to drive a turbine wheel;
Every knuckle of soft ore
A bullet in a soldier’s ear.
The miner at the rockface stands,
With his segged and bleeding hands
Heaps on his head the fiery coal,
And feels the iron in his soul.
Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson 8 Jan 1914 to 30th May 1987.
Born in Millom.
Awarded Queens Gold Medal for Poetry in 1977 and OBE in 1981
See the illustration of Cleator Moor’s iron works with its furnaces.
The picture was dated 1934 as the works stood idle awaiting