Parlington Hall :: The Gascoigne Mines in Garforth

Trench Pit, Ninelands Lane, Garforth

The header photograph is of the Trench Pit in Ninelands Lane, Garforth, probably around the period before the First World War. Today only the building to the left of the pit winding building is still in existence although in a different use as part of Stocks block manufacturers. The pit was sunk in 1899-1900 and was sited adjacent to the Castleford branch line of the North Eastern Railway (NER). Again the branch line is long gone, a consequence of the cuts devised by Dr Beeching in the 1960's. The coal seam worked was the Middleton Main Seam, which was beyond the scope of the other Gascoigne pits in Garforth (Isabella and Sisters). The hill in the distance behind the colliery is Garforth Cliff, so the picture is looking roughly east.

Apparently whilst water plagued the Garforth pits, as is recorded here in earlier pages, the Trench pit was far and away the wettest! To remove the ground water from the workings was a large Beevor & Dorling compound condensing engine which pumped water through its housing at around 1,000 gallons per minute. East of the pit on the slope of the steep escarpment of Garforth Cliff was the edge of the coalfield, however here was a ten foot thick strata of basal permian sand beneath the overying limestone, highly prized for use in foundary work. The sand was won by pillar and stall method and was transported by narrow gauge railway to Castleford. Similar sand was extracted from the Isabella pit. [Text details are a precis from Graham Hudson's excellent book on the Garforth Mines and Aberford Railway.]

The Final Years

The Trench pit added to the rising output of the Garforth mines prior to the First World War, with production topping 440,000 tons annually at its peak, of which over 120,000 tons was exported via Hull. The war however was instrumental in changing the nature of the industry, production post war was greatly reduced and some 60 miners of the 400 who had enlisted never returned! Exports were prohibited post 1918 which seriously affected the prosperity of the pits and following a five week strike in 1919 Colonel Frederick Richard Trench-Gascoigne, probably not having his father's loyalty to the industrial activities of the family, being very concerned with matters imperial, decided to sell out.

The collieries valued at £100,000 were purchased by a limited company controlled by Wharnecliffe Silkstone of Tankersley, near Barnsley, in December 1920. This company, Garforth Collieries Ltd had high hopes for the enterprise, and also as part of the deal took a sixty year lease on the Aberford railway, undertaking to maintain the track and repair any damage to the Light Arch on Parlington Lane. Additionally reasonable facilities were to be afforded for the general public to use the railway. For his part Colonel Gascoigne paid £2,000 for repairs to MW Empress ~ new boiler, firebox and smoke box.

The Beginning of the End

Sadly the high hopes of the new owners were not to be realised, despite the ongoing modernisation, Sisters pit was virtually worked out by 1921 and Isabella had only a limited amount of coal left, these facts and the general coal strike of that year was a serious set back. To make matters worse in 1922 and 23 prosecutions were taken out against the company owners and management for numerous contraventions of the Coal Mines Acts. However the ownership was changed during this time, albeit with some members of the earlier board of directors re-appearing on the new company board!

Rare Photograph of Policeman at the Trench Pit 1921

The picture shows how as in more recent times the police were called upon to protect the owners property. Clearly the stern looking characters in the image surrounding perhaps the mine manager, would have stood no nonsense from striking miners, although it is fair to say that they are not Tooled Up as would be expected nowadays!

They are standing on the east side of the site, not on the road side as is the view in the main picture. Probably a few feet away from the railway line, the winding tower behind the group is the main tower, shown to the left in the header photograph.

Bankruptcy 1930

Garforth Collieries Ltd. found themselves in financial difficulties during the period following the General Strike of 1926 and finally bankruptcy in 1930. A fuller explanation of this episode of the Garforth mines is worth reading in the book I mentioned earlier by Graham Hudson, although out of print copies are regularly offered on eBay and second hand book shops. The Aberford Railway and the History of the Garforth Collieries, by Graham Hudson, ISBN 0 7153 5200 8

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The full extent of the mines and the railway that served them, and Aberford, is detailed in an excellent book by Graham Hudson, sadly no longer in print. Title: The Aberford Railway and the history of the Garforth Collieries published by David & Charles.


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