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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Crawshay's colliery at Light Moor may be mentioned


between the date of the above coal-works and the present most approved collieries, Mr. Protheroe, in his evidence before the Dean Forest Commissioners, in 1832, relative to his thirty-two coal-pits, stated that "the depth of my principal pits at Park End and Bilson varies from about 150 to 200 yards; that of my new gales, for which I have engine licences, is estimated at from 250 to 300 yards. I have 12 steam engines varying from 12 to 140 horse power, 9 or 10 of which are at work, the whole amounting to 500 horse power; and I have licences for four more engines, two of which must be of very great power. The amount of wages paid by me, in the last twelve years, to colliers, hauliers, and labourers, is upwards of 150,000 pounds, giving constant employment on the average to from 400 to 500 individuals."

The coal-pits were now lined throughout with stone walling, leaving a clear diameter of from 7 to 9 feet; greater regard was paid to their drainage and ventilation, both of which required particular attention, owing to the watery nature of the coal measures, and the abundance of "choke-damp," although happily "fire damp" never appears. Horses were now used underground for bringing the coal-trams to the foot of the pit, and all the workings were accurately surveyed and recorded, agreeably to the regulations instituted by the Dean Forest Mining Commissioners, under the judicious Act of 27th July, 1838, to the effect that "the quantity of coals

sent daily from each colliery should be duly entered, and plans made of the workings, for the information of the Gaveller, who might also inspect any underground operations at all reasonable times," the whole undertaking being required to be carried on according to the best and most improved system.

[Picture: Light Moor Colliery]

In accordance with which excellent rules, each of the 105 re-awards of coal seams applied for during the years 1838-41 were so ably set out by Messrs. Sopwith, Buddle, and Probyn, as effectually to check the numerous disputes which formerly arose, and ere long so to develop the coal-works of the Forest of Dean as to render them worthy to be compared with some of the finest collieries in the kingdom. As an instance of their present excellence, Messrs. Crawshay's colliery at Light Moor may be mentioned, for its great extent, completeness, powerful machinery, and size of its pits. These last, four in number, are 291 feet deep, one of which, measuring 9 feet 6 inches by 14 feet, contains pumps raising 88 gallons of water per minute.

The number of coal-works in the Forest at the close of 1856 was 221, yielding in that year to the public use upwards of 460,432 tons; the ten largest collieries each producing as follows:--

Tons. Park End Colliery 86,973 Light Moor ,, 86,508 Crump Meadow 41,507 Bix Slade 26,792 The Nelson 24,539 Hopewell in Whimberry 18,858 Valletts Level 17,918 Bilson 17,395 Arthur and Edward 12,857 New Strip and at it 11,502 ------- 344,849

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