Oral history workshop

Figure 1: Site of Kirkby Woodhouse coal wharf in 2014 with Bentinck Colliery pit tip in the foreground. Photo Credit: David Amos

Kirkby Woodhouse Wharf Yard and a tragic tale

At the end of Skegby Road, Kirkby Woodhouse, near the junction with Arthur Green Avenue, is the site of a former coal wharf dating from 1827. Built by the Butterley Company, it supplied coal by horse and cart to local villages and hamlets. The road from the top of Birds Lane, now Skegby Road, was originally called New End Road, and came into existence sometime after the coal wharf opened.

Digital audio recorder

Figure 2: First edition OS Map showing the Kirkby Woodhouse coal wharf marked as Annesley Wharf.

The wharf, marked as Annesley Wharf on the first edition OS map, was supplied with coal from Portland No.2 colliery, locally called Jerry Pit after the Big Butty, Jerimiah Lowe. The Big Butty system was a method of subcontracting which operated in the local coal industry in the nineteenth century. An inclined railway ran from a Jerry Pit to the coal wharf, which was operated by a stationary steam engine by means of steel rope haulage. From the 1835 Sandersons map it appears there was a junction with the 1819 horse drawn Mansfield and Pinxton Railway. It operated with one full wagon being hauled up the incline with an empty wagon being lowered at the same time. There would have been a passing point on the incline where the two wagons passed.

Digital audio recorder

Figure 3: Kirkby Woodhouse inclined railway and Coal Wharf on Sandersons 1835 map.

A Tragic Tale

The inclined railway was the scene of a tragic accident, the actual date of which is unknown but probably would have been in the late nineteenth century. The stationary steam engine driver, a lad called Harvey, noticed something was wrong by the sound of the engine. This often happened when a wagon derailed which was a regular occurrence. He stopped the stationary haulage engine, and on investigation found a young girl under the wheel of a wagon. She had been crushed to death. Local folklore has it that she was on an errand to fetch some milk from a local farm and had hitched a ride on a wagon back up the incline. She was wearing a shawl which caught under the wagon wheel, dragging her under it.

Digital audio recorder
Digital audio recorder

Figs 4: OS 1888 – 1913 six inch to the mile map showing the route of the Kirkby Woodhouse inclined railway and wharf yard & Fig 5 modern day Google Earth image. Photo Credits: National Library of Scotland Map images website

Runners

The inclined railway was often the scene of a runaway wagon or ‘runners’ as they were known as locally in the coal industry. This often happened when the chain broke which was lashed onto the haulage rope. A local folklore story recalls a Mr William Shelton hearing the haulage chain snap whilst potato picking with his father, and hearing the runaway wagon running away down the incline and spilling its contents.

The Coal Wharf closed in the autumn of 1884, the last load of coal being purchased by Mr Unwin, headmaster at Kirkby Woodhouse School. Jerry Pit was the last of the Portland Collieries to produce coal and closed in 1916.

 

Blog by David Amos

29th January 2023

 

Posted by SB2K Admin

29th January 2023.

 

 

References

 

Johnson, I.C. A History of Kirkby Woodhouse, 1948.

 

National Library of Scotland website, Map Images, https://maps.nls.uk/

 

Pearson, D. Annesley through the Ages, 1995.