Pits: Rockingham Colliery

Newton Chambers and Company established Rockingham Colliery in the 1870s, leasing 1,200 acres of mineral from Earl Fitzwilliam.

1913 Great Central Railway Colliery connections, showing Rockingham

Designed with state-of-the-art plant and equipped for coke production, the pit worked the Parkgate, Thorncliffe Thin and the Silkstone coal seams. By 1894 the combined output was done 1,600 tons per day.

Rockingham Colliery, early 20th Century view. (Private Collection. No reproduction without permission)

When first sunk, 1874-5, the colliery consisted of two shafts, 50 yards apart: the No.1, or South downcast pit, 16ft diameter, and the No.2, or North upcast shaft at 15ft diameter both sunk to 345 yards depth, to the Silkstone seam.

The downcast winding engine was a pair of vertical high pressure engines, with 3 ft cylinders and 6ft stroke driving the rope over an 18ft circular drum. The Upcast engine was a duplicate of the downcast, though only used for drawing men and materials.

The colliery was ventilated by a Guibal fan, some 45ft diameter, 12ft wide, revolving at 45 revolutions per minute, producing 190,000 cubic feet of ventilation. It was driven by two single horizontal engines with 36inch cylinders and 3ft stroke

The electrical lighting plant was put down in 1894, comprising a 12 unit compound wound Northampton dynamo, 105 volts providing power to light the workshops, engine house, pit bank and Silkstone pit bottom. The installation, fitted with Swan’s Incandescent lamps, included:

  • 64x 16 candle power lamps
  • 16x 32 candle power lamps
  • 2x 60 candle power lamps
  • 7x 200 candle power lamps

Rockingham had a large coking installation, with 170 beehive shaped coke ovens, each 7ft 6ins high and 11ft diameter, and an automated coke extractor (Chambers and Smith patent invention). The extractor consisted of a vertical boiler, pump and winch, travelling on rails set out across the raised plinth at the front of the coke ovens. It cleared out up to 25 ovens a day. In total were are 3 full draws of the coke ovens every week, totaling 1,500 tons of coke.


Chambers and Smith patent Coke Extractor, as used at the Denaby Main, and Rockingham collieries, Plat 1, from Journal of British Society of Mining Students, Vol.XVI(2), October 1893

The extractor delivered the coke produced onto a 20 inch travelling belt, before being raised on elevators onto jigger screens to separate out the coke. The saleable sized coke passed over the 1 inch mesh screen; the smaller ‘breeze’ passed over a 5/8 inch mesh, and everything else was sent back to the boilers.


McMurtrie, G.E.J., ‘Rockingham Colliery’, Journal of the British Society of Mining Students, Vol.XVI(4), February 1894, pp.79-64

Mining Engineer, ‘The Yorkshire Coalfield. XIII. – Rockingham Colliery’, Colliery Guardian, Vol.LXIX, 4 January 1895, p.17