Haig Pit

Haig Pit

  • Haig was sunk by Whitehaven Colliery Company to exploit the coal reserves between Ladysmith and Wellington Pits.
  • The shafts are numbered 4 &5 as the company already had 3 shafts at Wellington Pit.
  • Last deep coal mine in Cumbria
  • Pit Depth: 1200 feet
  • No.4 Engine used for men and materials.
  • No.5 Engine used for coal.
  • No.4 shaft’s diameter =18 feet
  • No.5 shaft’s diameter = 21 feet
  • Distance of workings out to sea: 4 ½ miles
  • Pit Operational 1916-1986
  • Work began on the shafts in 1914
  • Haig was a dry pit despite being under the sea.
  • 24 Hour production of coal
  • No.4 drop = 28 feet per second (men)
  • No.5 drop = 35 feet per second (coal)
  • Suffered its first disaster 1922 in which 39 men were killed.

No 4 Winding Engine Hall

Constructed 1916 onwards with the engine “built in”. This engine was used from 1919 to 1933 for all purposes, i.e. coal & rock up, materials down and men up & down. From 1933 to 1986 it was used only for men & materials. It is now operated regularly using compressed air.

No 5 Winding Engine Hall

 Final phase of the building, the massive No 5 engine was “built in” 1920. Although completed by 1923 it was a further 10 years before this engine was commissioned as output from Haig steadily increased. Prior to this the shaft was the “up east” or return ventilation route with the main fan at the top, winding (in emergency) being by the “sinking engine” retained in a wooden hut in the yard.

For the next 50 years coal was wound in cages with 4 tubs, each containing 1 ton of coal, per cage, from a depth of 1136 feet. In 1983 the cages were replaced by skips holding 6 tons, raising the shaft capacity from 240 to 360 tons per hour. This operation required that 5000 gallons of water was boiled each hour to raise steam.

  • Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VIII) visited Haig in 1927. He sat on the engine driver’s seat, and because he then abdicated, some people call  that his throne.
  • The banksman and the winding engine driver worked closely together. It was the banksman’s job to notify the driver when it was safe to lower or raise the cages. A signal bell was rang from the top or bottom of the shaft when it was safe to do so.
  • The boilers for these engines burned a mixture of coal and methane piped from the working face.

The Power House

This hall formerly contained a number of steam driven generators and compressors.

Originally planned to provide all power for Haig & the other Whitehaven pits, increasing mechanization saw firstly an extension at the front to accommodate more equipment, then the use of mains electricity and provisions of an outside compressor house, the equipment in here being retained mainly for weekend & emergency use.

  • The powerhouse housed the steam and electricity generators for the mine.
  • The cellars were used as a temporary morgue during Haig’s disasters.


  • The manrider had a top speed of 18 mph, but its general speed was 15 mph. It was the fastest in Cumberland.
  • Installed during World War II (1942).
  • The manrider was run using an electrically powered endless- rope haulage system and was the first in a set of 11.
  • 8 people would have sat in each compartment except for the driver who would have his carriage to himself.
  • A set of wheels  or ‘bogies’ propelled the carriage.
  • The manrider only stopped at the shaft bottom and the end of the line, so miners had to jump off the moving carriage to alight. An emergency stop could be initiated by shorting the wires running above the carriage.






4 thoughts on “Haig Pit”

  1. laura bowes said:

    Both my father and grandfather worked down the pit my father had passed to go to grammar school but was unable to go as his family where so poor so at 13 he was down the coal mine he left to join up when world war one broke out he could have stayed in the coal mines as it was a reserved occupation but chose to fight for his country after the war he married my mother and settled here in north wales he is now 90

  2. My grandad was Claude winfield and I think he was manager at this pit about 1927 ?

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