Mervyn Edwards' Memories
Mervyn Edwards looks back over the history of what was once one of the deepest collieries in the country.
THE mellow hump which presides over Central Forest Park, in Hanley, is one of the city's most conspicuous features – but it was no less a landmark in the days when it was a spoil tip belonging to Hanley Deep Pit.
Recently, I walked to the very top of the mound for the first time in 25 years.
I enjoyed a view of the marvellous improvements that have taken place within the park in recent times.
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The story of Deep Pit, in Town Road, is one of blood, sweat and tears.
Coal mining was well-established in Hanley before Hanley Deep Pit was inaugurated during the mid-19th century.
It is recorded that in 1804 the Hanley and Shelton Colliery was producing 1,200 tons of coal weekly.
The shafts at Hanley Deep were sunk by Lord Granville in the 1850s, and by 1868 the workforce numbered 400 men and boys.
The colliery was sunk to a depth of 1,530 feet by 1872 and was reputedly the deepest mining coal in the Midland counties even at this time.
After 1880, improved methods of ventilation and stricter mining regulations effectively reduced the number of explosions and accidents in the pit – though by no means altogether, as newspaper reports of fatalities continued to show.
The shafts were deepened and widened in 1901, the depth becoming 2,661 feet, making it one of the deepest collieries in the country.
Deep Pit was connected by private railway to the Shelton Steelworks, at Etruria, and was also linked with the North Staffordshire Railway Potteries Loop Line.
In 1947 the saleable output of the colliery was 350,114 tons whilst 1,285 men were employed.
Hanley Deep merged with Wolstanton Colliery in February, 1962 and the surface was closed in May, 1962.
Demolition followed in due course.
Hanley Forest Park officially opened in 1973, but a pit wheel near the entrance offers a reminder of the industrial past.