‘Down a mine is he?’

Heaton Colliery map

The map is a detail from the first Ordnance Survey map of Bradford dating from around 1850. My house is as yet unbuilt but it would be placed just off the bottom, on land owned by the Earl of Rosse until the early twentieth century. Two active coal mines are mapped: Heaton Colliery and Northcliffe Colliery which probably exploited a local coal seam known as the Soft Bed. Royd Cliff Wood is also marked. Cliff may be derived from ‘clough’ a common regional name for a deep, wooded, valley. Through Royd Cliff Wood flows a stream known locally as the Red Beck. At this level horizontal drifts or ‘day-holes’ accessed a higher seam of coal called the Hard Bed. Their remains are still clearly visible today but they are not mapped. It seems improbable that they were later in date than the first OS map, perhaps they weren’t obvious enough to bother the surveyors. A sandstone quarry and an old coal pit are also mapped. ‘Old pits’ are found all over Bradford in the first OS map and it is rather remarkable that only a single example is present here, since coal was widely exploited in Heaton and Shipley in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We cannot be completely sure where the ‘old pit’ in this map is placed today since its remains seem to have been obscured by modern landscaping. Over the next two years it is hoped that a proper survey will be undertaken of the coal-mining heritage of Northcliffe by local volunteers. I am sure that I will return regularly to this topic.



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