Archive for September, 2018

Waterlooville the Lost Village

September 1, 2018

WATERLOOVILLE THE LOST VILLAGE
My old school teacher, who knew a bit, said that Leeds was at the most northerly point of the Yorkshire Coalfield. We were at the last point of ‘The exposed Coalfield’ where coal was relatively easy to win before it went much further underground to that which was known as ‘The Concealed Coalfield’ and became much harder to mine.
It would seem the earlier Victorians and those who mined even earlier (coal was mined in the area since the 17th century) made the most of coal being at hand and sank shafts all over the place, unfortunately they were reckless in their infilling of them and neglected to mark their positions on maps, the result is: they keep opening up. I recall one opening up on East Street another in the precincts of Mount St Mary’s Primary School which caused them to re-locate to Porta Cabins in the old Victoria School Yard. Others were found when excavating the railway cutting for the line from Richmond Hill to Neville Hill and yet others halted the construction of St Saviour’s Church. Further evidence of coal extraction is also to be seen by the pit spoil heaps at the Shaftsbury (Black Hills), Knostrop (red Hills) and in East End Park itself, also in many streams in the area running with orange mineral water from the old mine workings and the smell of leaking methane gas.
We were all used to seeing pit head gear at: Allerton Bi-Water, Rothwell, Swillington, Featherstone, Stanley and Lofthouse but our last and most familiar pit was Waterloo (Temple Pit – 1913-1966). This was the pit from which our lovely old paddy engines: Kitchener, Jubilee, Dora, Antwerp and later Sylvia were familiar sights delivering coal to the staithe on Easy Road or ferrying the miners to work at the pit itself. Temple Pit was located to the south east of Temple Newsam House near to a little road Called ‘The Avenue’, now disappeared too and not far off Bullerthorpe Lane at Swillington. The shaft was located in a deep cleft in the land so it was hard to even see the pit head gear; they sunk them in places where the land was lowest so they didn’t have so far to dig down to the coal seams.
There were three old shafts at Knostrop when I was a lad, two behind Knostrop Old Hall had not been filled in at all and had crumbling brickwork housings across the top which foolhardy kids would climb up and look down to the water which always rises to the height of the water table in old shafts. One was broken away at the side and I once saw a chimney sweep getting rid of his soot down there. The third shaft (Dam Pit) was located between the two plantations at Knostrop and the provider of the red shale spoil that hard cored our two ‘red roads’. The shaft was brick filled to about five feet from the top and there was still a bit of the pit head gear in place. We would dangerously play in the shaft oblivious to the fact, we later learned, that the shaft had only been capped off with timber that would probably have started to rot. I have visited that site lately, it was where the rifle club used have its pitch so that the red hills was a back barrier for its bullets, the whole area has been grassed over now but I can see a little ‘dimple’ forming where the shaft is. I wonder if anybody realises what that is? I wonder if anybody cares about the danger?
Now I’m coming to the disappeared Waterloo village. The first sod for Waterloo Colliery was taken on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, (1815), hence the name. Many shafts have been and gone between the first shaft and the end of mining in 1966. I have made a study of the shafts in the area and made my own map, as you can see there were a lot of shafts. I must point out that the map is a composite of several maps and covers a time period of over a century; they were not all in production at the same time. Please ‘click’ on maps to enlarge writing. In later years open cast mining has dredged the whole area. Once that has been completed they put the land back and leave it in good order but any historical landmarks are gone for ever. I did read where a Viking settlement had been found near to the River Aire but I cannot see any evidence of that been left for us to see. But I did speak to one of the operators on the open cast scheme and he said they had opened up galleries where the old Victorian miners used to work, he said they were like worm casts and he had recovered an old green bottle left by a miner after having his ‘snap’,

REMEMBER TO CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE

In David Joy’s Regional History of Railways in Great Britain he tells of a rail service to service the pits in this area as early as 1750, that began as wooden wagon ways that ran from Thwaite Gate to Temple Newsam that a decade later there were seven pits a network of wagon ways and an iron works.
A further search of the records showed that a pit village – the earliest purposely built pit village in West Yorkshire was built on a site between Thorpe Stapleton on one side of the canal and river and Rothwell on the other side.

The village originally called Waterloo colloquially grew the name ‘Waterlooville’. Although I must point out Temple Newsam in their guide book seem to refer the village as ‘New Market’ and they ought to know but I always thought Newmarket to be the colliery at Stanley. Anyway I shall continue to call it Waterlooville and it has completely disappeared. It is not unusual for pit villages to die when the mine is exhausted that is the nature of the beast but in the case of Waterlooville, on our very doorstep there does not seem to be a stick of evidence that it ever existed, no ruins, nothing. I have placed the village on the map (Please see map) as seemingly between the river and the canal, there were two streets a square and a school cum Sunday school. It is quite obvious there was a connection to the Temple Newsam Estate as the square is called ‘Irwin ‘Square’, the Irwin family were incumbents of the estate at the time and probably had a financial input into the village especially the school/Sunday school. There was also a bridge ‘Waterloo Bridge’ across the river to allow miners from the village to cross over the river on their way to work on the north side of the river. Of that too there is no trace.

Over a period of time I searched both sides of the river and the canal bank for the merest sign of Waterlooville, nothing. I did find some huge blocks on the side of the canal which I thought might have at one time been anchor points for the bridge but they were inconclusive. I regularly asked folk I met along the canal bank if they had ever heard of a disappeared village but without success, then speaking to the lock keeper at Fishponds Lock I finally stuck gold, he said he had once heard about the village from an old timer who had said there were remains of the old school wall beneath the old cement bridge, the one carried the trains that took coal from Fanny Pit at Rothwell to Skelton Grange Power Station, but that he hadn’t seen them himself. So I clambered across the Paddy bridge to the north side of the river and had to descend the steep banking at the other side which looked quite treacherous but some kind soul had attached a rope to a tree to make the descent just about possible and there looking back to the south side of the river I saw the old brickwork that the lock keeper said was the remains of the old village school wall. I took this photograph – I have had to whiten the brick work on the photograph so it would show up.
On another occasion I attempted to climb down the other side of the river onto the top of the wall that I could see from the north side to see what else I could find but the bank was very steep and slippery and covered in brambles and I could see the river was running very fiercely at the bottom and I could sense that a slip, and I’m not as nimble as I used to be, would have seen me washed away in the torrent, so I decided the better part of valour was to abort that particular quest

Thankfully some kind organisation has now built a bridge across the river near to that old cement bridge making it easier to see across to the remains of the wall of the old Waterlooville School building also making it possible for walkers from Woodlesford and Rothwell to walk all the way across to Temple Newsam.

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