Mining in Mottram
© William Johnson, Longdendale Amenities Trust

Looking around our immediate coutryside, it seems as though man has not intruded too much in its reshaping. We have all the usual indicators of a rural landscape, green fields, trees, hedges. Cattle, shep and horses grazing, all undeline that assumption.

Let us have a closer look. The holes, lumps and scrapings on the surface tell us a great deal. Would you consider for instance that the area once had an active mining industry?

Looking at Mottram in particular and walking around looking for clues, it becomes obvious that a great deal of activity has taken place over the centuries and has marked the surface of the land. The various types of mining undertaken were open cast, bell pits, drift mines and some deep mining. The shallowness of the seams resulted mainly in soft, porr quality coal, nonetheless it was a valuable material to extract and explot, attracting increased rentals for the Lordship.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, industrialisation was taking place; mills with no water power at hand needed coal for the boilers to create steam. Lawrence Earnshaw, our local inventor, built a pumping steam engine for use in a number of mines in Longdendale. There is evidence of deep mining in The Hague during the 1700s both in rental information and on old maps.

The largest mine in the area was Mottram Colliery, its seams extending across Mottram Moor, Warhill, to Hurst Clough, where we can still see the strange coloured seepeage of iron ore. Imagine the consequential disturbance and industrial squalor all this activity created.

Evidence of this is still to be found if we look closely. The ponds on Littlemoor Road are probably the result of bell pits; in the fields above the Wagon we can see evidence of drift workings and a capped shaft. Other clues in the fields dropping down to Mottram Moor where drift mining scrapes can be clearly seen, together with elevated track areas for loading transport. A good example of a raised area is in Ben Timperley's field, going down to what is now a pond.

On the 1846 tithe map is field number 395, Coal Meadow, on the left hand side just before the Waggon. Another field number 501, Pit Field at Mud farm, also has what is now a pond. Look around, there are many more scrapings and bumps etc to discover.

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