New Hucknall Colliery

William Muschamp (1812-1875)

Founder of the last and thus most modern Huthwaite coal mine was William Muschamp Esquire. Ancestral name long recognises wealthy gentry and influential businessmen amongst Newcastle upon Tyne area.   William is in fact identified as one long standing councillor representing the very large town of Gateshead-on-Tyne. In 1872 Muschamp held more distinguished title of Mayor to Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, although personal enterprises were then becoming aimed at deeper Nottinghamshire coals.

Closing what became later termed the Old Hucknall Colliery appears to have given reason for attracting the attention of Mr William Muschamp to the rural setting of Hucknall Huthwaite. That Mellors pit asserted coal seams lay beyond is workable limits. Later rail links suggest some attempt to prolong its life, although there's little record to determine whether or not Muschamp was involved in trying to modernising that old pit.

Muschamp did purchase mineral rights from Natham Mellors, as well as from a Mrs Miller and members of the Society of Friends. Adding surface and mineral rights purchased from J T Boot for another £1400, his investment costs rise when furthermore employing the renown services of that local mineral surveyor and mining engineer. But in so doing, the intention to site a much larger colliery becomes apparent, as was the need to utilise all latest methods and machinery in order to fully access the previously elusive seams.

After choosing best site in southern Hucknall valley meadows under Huthwaite, negotiating all necessary land and mineral leasing rights through John Boot & Sons inexplicably delayed any work commencing. It was some eights years after closing the old pit before the first shovel was used. Unfortunately for William Muschamp, his death when aged 65, dated 30th December 1875 in Gateshead, Durham, means he never got to see results of his investment. Appointed executors and five other private investors actually ensured the work could commence just a few months later. It was they who then formed the named New Hucknall Colliery Company from which related members would soon being reaping a very profitable reward.

Sinking the Last Huthwaite Coal Mine

Digging out Huthwaite's future prosperity started in year 1876, 1876 giving date for these workers sinking the first shaft for a future named New Hucknall Colliery.

A Top Hard seam of Barnsley bed was first reached, leading quickly on to sinking a second shaft to provide clean air circulation.   Both shafts were named in a tribute to this areas titled land owning manor Lord. No.1 was Carnarvon and through No.2 Portland is how North side coals were first raised by 1877. This only started inviting a range of jobs, to begin a productive year 1878.

Seen first used is a simple hand winch for lowering miners and slowly raising buckets of earth. 1878 Very same method had been long employed by shallower bell pits. Workers clinging onto the chains was still a dangerous transfer after far deeper collieries made greater use of pony power both above and underground. Their perilous swinging descent was noted at the Old Hucknall pit, and little changed by introducing steam powered machinery.

This circa 1878 New Hucknall winder steam engine can barely claim any improvements in safety, until adding a transportation cage. What it did have was the power to increase depth and capacity for retrieving much heavier pay loads.   New Hucknall colliery was destined to be just one of many Nottinghamshire coal pits aimed at the previously elusive seams stretching deeper eastward.

Nearest the Derbyshire border, here finally met a watery working limit over a quarter mile below ground. But in order to fully reach lower seams, New Hucknall Colliery rather uniquely featured a third pit shaft sunk between years 1884-1887. Opening that shaft allowed the colliery to work at full capacity, and sets date for the urgent need to start providing houses for the expected employment of over 1,500 miners. Considering that well out numbered the entire Hucknall-under-Huthwaite population at time, is good indication of the significant part this pit played in quickly transforming this rural hamlet into an industrious mining community and a relatively prosperous township.

Written 27 Aug 03 Revised 12 Sep 14 © by Gary Elliott