Kent coalfield
Overview
 
The Kent Coalfield was a coalfield
Coalfield
A coalfield is an area of certain uniform characteristics where coal is mined. The criteria for determining the approximate boundary of a coalfield are geographical and cultural, in addition to geological...

 located in the eastern part of the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 county of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

.

Coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 was discovered in the area in 1890 while borings for an early Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

 project were taking place and the resultant Shakespeare colliery lasted until 1915. In the early years many collieries were sunk but failed and the East Kent Light Railway
East Kent Light Railway
The East Kent Light Railway was part of the Colonel Stephens group of cheaply built rural light railways in England. Holman Fred Stephens was engineer from its inception, subsequently becoming director and manager...

 was built to exploit the anticipated business. Extensive plans had been drawn up by 1914 for major coal exploitation in east Kent, but the outbreak of war and disappointing test results eventually resulted in only four collieries surviving: Betteshanger
Betteshanger
Betteshanger is a village near Deal in East Kent, England. It gave its name to the largest of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield.-Before the coal mine:...

, Chislet
Chislet
Chislet is a sprawling rural parish in the northeast of the English county of Kent between the city of Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet. It is also the name of a village within the parish....

, Snowdown
Snowdown
Snowdown is a village near Dover in Kent, England. It was the location of one of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield....

 and Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone is a small village in Kent, in the South East of England, near Eastry a much bigger and more developed area. Tilmanstone has no schools, few shops and a church and town hall. The population of Tilmanstone often work for the nearby companies, such as Pfizer or Tilmanstone Salads, or in...

.
Encyclopedia
The Kent Coalfield was a coalfield
Coalfield
A coalfield is an area of certain uniform characteristics where coal is mined. The criteria for determining the approximate boundary of a coalfield are geographical and cultural, in addition to geological...

 located in the eastern part of the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 county of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

.

Coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 was discovered in the area in 1890 while borings for an early Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

 project were taking place and the resultant Shakespeare colliery lasted until 1915. In the early years many collieries were sunk but failed and the East Kent Light Railway
East Kent Light Railway
The East Kent Light Railway was part of the Colonel Stephens group of cheaply built rural light railways in England. Holman Fred Stephens was engineer from its inception, subsequently becoming director and manager...

 was built to exploit the anticipated business. Extensive plans had been drawn up by 1914 for major coal exploitation in east Kent, but the outbreak of war and disappointing test results eventually resulted in only four collieries surviving: Betteshanger
Betteshanger
Betteshanger is a village near Deal in East Kent, England. It gave its name to the largest of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield.-Before the coal mine:...

, Chislet
Chislet
Chislet is a sprawling rural parish in the northeast of the English county of Kent between the city of Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet. It is also the name of a village within the parish....

, Snowdown
Snowdown
Snowdown is a village near Dover in Kent, England. It was the location of one of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield....

 and Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone is a small village in Kent, in the South East of England, near Eastry a much bigger and more developed area. Tilmanstone has no schools, few shops and a church and town hall. The population of Tilmanstone often work for the nearby companies, such as Pfizer or Tilmanstone Salads, or in...

. Had coal been more easily accessible there is no doubt that the open, rural landscape of east Kent would have changed beyond recognition.

Geology

Various geologists, including Robert Godwin-Austen
Robert Alfred Cloynes Godwin-Austen
Robert Alfred Cloyne Godwin-Austen FRS was an English geologist.Godwin-Austen was the eldest son of Sir Henry E. Austen. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow in 1830. He afterwards entered Lincoln's Inn...

, theorised that the geological conditions in East Kent were conducive to the existence of coal and therefore the potential for coal mining
Coal mining
The goal of coal mining is to obtain coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United States,...

. Godwin-Austen put forward his views in 1857, and they were accepted by Sir Joseph Prestwich
Joseph Prestwich
Sir Joseph Prestwich FRS, was a British geologist and businessman, known as an expert on the Tertiary Period and for having confirmed the findings of Boucher de Perthes of ancient flint tools in the Somme valley gravel beds....

, who was a member of the Royal Coal Commission from 1866–71.
The following seams are recognised. They are listed in stratigraphical order with the uppermost/youngest at the top and the lowermost/oldest at the bottom:
Upper Coal Measures
  • Kent No 1 (Beresford) seam
  • Kent No 2
  • Kent No 3
  • Kent No 4
  • Kent No 5
  • Kent No 6 (Millyard) seam

Middle Coal Measures
  • Kent No 7 (Chislet No 5) seam
  • Kent No 8
  • Kent No 9
  • Kent No 10
  • Kent No 11

Lower Coal Measures
  • Kent No 12
  • Kent No 13
  • Kent No 14

Test bores

Test bores were made at the following locations:-
  • Brabourne
    Brabourne
    Brabourne is a village and civil parish in the Ashford district of Kent, England. The village centre is just under five miles east of Ashford town centre.The centre of the modern village of Brabourne is the Five Bells pub, which overlooks the village green...

    —bore to a depth of 2004 feet (610.8 m), no coal found.

  • Ropersole, Barham
    Barham, Kent
    Barham is a village and civil parish in the City of Canterbury district of Kent, England. It is situated close to the A2 road between Canterbury and Dover, 7 miles south-east of Canterbury and 7 miles north of Folkestone....

    —bore to a depth of 2129 feet (648.9 m), twelve thin seams found.

  • Ellinge, Dover
    Dover
    Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

    —bore to a depth of 1686 feet (513.9 m), coal measures found, boring continued another 129 feet (39.32 m), but no seams found.

  • Waldershare
    Waldershare
    Waldershare is a village near Dover in Kent, England....

    —bore to a depth of 2372 feet (723 m) or more, five coal seams found.

  • Fredville, Nonington
    Nonington
    Nonington, also, variously, Nonnington, Nunyngton, Nonnyngton, Nunnington, is a small village in the southeast corner of Kent, situated halfway between the historic city of Canterbury and the channel port town of Dover...

    —bore to a depth of 1505 feet (458.7 m) or more in December 1896, three coal seams found.

  • Goodnestone
    Goodnestone, Dover
    Goodnestone is a village in the district of Dover, Kent, England.-Goodnestone Park near Sandwich:Goodnestone Park is a stately home near the Canterbury–Sandwich village. It was built in 1704 by Brook Bridges, 1st Baronet....

    —bore to a depth of nearly 1000 feet (304.8 m), no coal found. It was thought that the seams lay at a depth of 4000 feet (1,219.2 m).

  • Shakespeare Cliff
    White cliffs of Dover
    The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the British coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to , owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk accentuated by streaks of black flint...

    —bore to a depth of 2274 feet (693.1 m) in February 1890. Fourteen seams of coal found.

Betteshanger

Standing to the northwest of Deal
Deal, Kent
Deal is a town in Kent England. It lies on the English Channel eight miles north-east of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate. It is a former fishing, mining and garrison town...

, this colliery was served by a branch off the Minster to Dover
Kent Coast Line
The Kent Coast Line is railway line that runs from Dover Priory to Margate in the English county of Kent.It was electrified by BR under the 1955 Modernisation Plan.- Services :...

 line. The colliery opened in 1924, the first coal was raised in 1927. In 1945, the workforce was 2,033, with 1,594 being employed sub-surface and 439 above. Betteshanger was the only pit to strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 . Betteshanger was the last pit to return to work after the 1984–85 Miners' Strike
UK miners' strike (1984–1985)
The UK miners' strike was a major industrial action affecting the British coal industry. It was a defining moment in British industrial relations, and its defeat significantly weakened the British trades union movement...

 and it closed on August 26, 1989. A few of the buildings survive today.

Shafts sunk
  • No. 1. 2126 feet (648 m)
  • No. 2. 2426 feet (739.4 m)

Chislet

Work began at Chislet
Chislet
Chislet is a sprawling rural parish in the northeast of the English county of Kent between the city of Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet. It is also the name of a village within the parish....

 in 1914, and the colliery produced its first coal in 1918. The fact that its owners, the Anglo-Westphalian Kent Coalfield Ltd., had German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 connections caused questions to be asked in Parliament. The company changed it name to the North Kent Coalfield Ltd., and later to Chislet Colliery Ltd. The colliery was served by the Ashford to Minster railway
Ashford to Ramsgate (via Canterbury West) line
The Ashford to Ramsgate line is the railway that runs from Ashford to Ramsgate via Canterbury West. The same termini can be reached by the Kent Coast LineThe line is electrified .-Services:...

, and a halt was built to serve the miners. In 1945, the workforce was 1,350, with 1,023 being employed sub-surface and 327 above. The colliery closed on July 25, 1969, the abandonment of steam traction
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

 by British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

 having taken away the market for its coal. Houses for the miners were built at Hersden
Hersden
Hersden is a village near Canterbury in Kent, South East England.The village lies on the A28 road, an old Roman road between the City of Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet, in the civil parish of Sturry, bordering the parish of Westbere....

, which still has a social club named the Chislet Colliery Social Club.

Locomotive
  • Yorkshire Engine Company
    Yorkshire Engine Company
    The Yorkshire Engine Company was a small independent locomotive manufacturer in Sheffield, England. The Company was formed in 1865 and continued to produce locomotives and carry out general engineering work until 1965...

     0-6-0ST
    0-6-0
    Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-6-0 represents the wheel arrangement of no leading wheels, six powered and coupled driving wheels on three axles, and no trailing wheels...

     2498/1951 worked at Chislet Colliery from 1960 until its closure. It has been preserved and now bears the name Chislet.


Shafts sunk
  • North 1470 feet (448.1 m)
  • South 1467 feet (447.1 m)

Cobham

A mine at Cobham
Cobham, Kent
Cobham is a village and civil parish in the Gravesham District of Kent, England. It is located south of Watling Street, the old road from Dover to London, six miles south-east of Gravesend. The hamlet of Sole Street lies within the parish, which covers an area of 1,240 ha and has a population of...

 produced a small quantity of brown lignite
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

, although some bituminous coal
Bituminous coal
Bituminous coal or black coal is a relatively soft coal containing a tarlike substance called bitumen. It is of higher quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than Anthracite...

 had been found. It had been open cast mined and used by Lord Darnley
Earl of Darnley
Earl of Darnley is a title that has been created three times, twice in the Peerage of Scotland and once in the Peerage of Ireland. The first creation in the Peerage of Scotland came in 1580 in favour of Esme Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox. He was created Duke of Lennox at the same time. See the latter...

 to heat Cobham Hall
Cobham Hall
Cobham Hall is a country house in Cobham, Kent, England. There has been a manor house on the site since the 12th century. The current building consists of a pair of Tudor wings built for William Brooke, 10th Baron Cobham in the 16th century and a later classical central block, and a kitchen court...

. A mine was sunk in 1947 and was recorded as producing 80 tons per week. The mine closed in 1953 and the site cleared.

Guilford

The first test shaft was sunk in 1906, hoping to find the coal seams discovered under Waldershare
Waldershare
Waldershare is a village near Dover in Kent, England....

 Park. The East Kent Light Railway
East Kent Light Railway
The East Kent Light Railway was part of the Colonel Stephens group of cheaply built rural light railways in England. Holman Fred Stephens was engineer from its inception, subsequently becoming director and manager...

 connected to the pit in November 1912. No coal had been found by 1918, and the colliery closed in the 1920s owing to geological problems. Two buildings remain at the site.

Shafts sunk
  • No. 1. 306 feet (93.3 m)
  • No. 2. 1272 feet (387.7 m)
  • No. 3. 1272 feet (387.7 m)

Hammill (Woodnesborough)

This site was located to the south of Woodnesborough
Woodnesborough
Woodnesborough is a village in East Kent two miles west of Sandwich.Its name is believed to originate from Woden's Borough after Anglo-Saxon god Woden ....

. Work here was abandoned in 1914 without coal being found. It was served by a half mile branch off the East Kent Light Railway. The site was subsequently used by the Hammill Brickworks
Brickworks
A brickworks also known as a brick factory, is a factory for the manufacturing of bricks, from clay or shale. Usually a brickworks is located on a clay bedrock often with a quarry for clay on site....

. Some buildings survive.

Maydensole

This colliery was to have been located near East Langdon
East Langdon
East Langdon is a village in the Dover district of Kent, England, five miles NE of Dover town.East Langdon was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The word Langdon goes back to Old English, meaning long hill...

. Some boreholes were drilled but work was abandoned without any shafts being sunk.

Shakespeare

This colliery was located in West Hougham on the site of the original Channel Tunnel workings. Coal had been discovered at a depth of 300 metres (984.3 ft) below Shakespeare Cliff on February 15, 1890. The first shaft was stated on August 21, 1891. A mining accident
Mining accident
A mining accident is an accident that occurs during the process of mining minerals.Thousands of miners die from mining accidents each year, especially in the processes of coal mining and hard rock mining...

 on March 6, 1897 killed eight men. The cause was a sudden inrush of water at a depth of 366 feet (111.6 m). This problem was solved by lining the shaft with cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 tubes as the shaft was sunk. By February 1905, just 12 tons of coal had been brought to the surface. Only 1,000 tons had been raised by 1912 and the colliery closed in December 1915 due to geological problems. Shakespeare Cliff Halt
Shakespeare Cliff Halt railway station
Shakespeare Cliff Halt is a private halt station on the South Eastern Main Line. It is located to the western end of the dual bore Shakespeare Cliff tunnel on the South Eastern Main Line to Folkestone...

 opened in 1913 to serve the miners. The site was obliterated by workings in connection with building the Channel Tunnel in the 1980s.

Shafts sunk
  • X 520 feet (158.5 m)
  • Y 1632 feet (497.4 m)
  • Z 1632 feet (497.4 m)

Snowdown

Work commenced in 1908, and coal was first brought to the surface on November 19, 1912. The first shaft sunk hit water at 260 feet (79.2 m) and 22 men were drowned. Snowdown
Snowdown
Snowdown is a village near Dover in Kent, England. It was the location of one of the four chief collieries of the Kent coalfield....

 was the deepest pit in Kent, reaching a depth of 3083 feet (939.7 m). The colliery was served by the Faversham to Dover railway
Chatham Main Line
The Chatham Main Line is a British railway line that runs from either London Victoria to Dover Priory / Ramsgate or London St Pancras to Faversham, with both services travelling via Medway...

, and a halt
Snowdown railway station
Snowdown railway station serves Snowdown in Kent. It is served by Southeastern.The station and the line it serves were built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, and the station was opened in 1914...

(Snowdown and Nonington) was provided. In 1945 the workforce was 1,876, with 1,523 being employed sub-surface and 353 above. The colliery closed in 1986 and the shafts were capped in 1988. A few ruinous buildings remain today.

Locomotives
  • Avonside
    Avonside Engine Company
    The Avonside Engine Company was a locomotive manufacturer in Avon Street, St. Philip's, Bristol, England between 1864 and 1934. However the business originated with an earlier enterprise Henry Stothert and Company.-Origins:...

     0-6-0ST 2004/1927 worked at Snowdown. It has been preserved.
  • Fowler
    John Fowler & Co.
    thumb|right|John Fowler & Co. [[steam roller]] of 1923John Fowler & Co Engineers of Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England produced traction engines and ploughing implements and equipment, as well as railway equipment. Fowler also produced the Track Marshall tractor which was a...

     0-4-0DM
    0-4-0
    Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 0-4-0 represents one of the simplest possible types, that with two axles and four coupled wheels, all of which are driven...

     416002/1952 worked at Snowdown. It has been preserved.


Shafts sunk
  • No 1. 262 feet (79.9 m)
  • No 2. 3083 feet (939.7 m)
  • No 3. 2994 feet (912.6 m)

Stonehall

This colliery was near Lydden
Lydden
Lydden is also the name of a hamlet in the Manston, Kent civil parishLydden is a civil parish and small village in the Dover district of Kent, England...

. It was abandoned in 1914 without coal being found. It lay derelict until 1919 when work recommenced, only to be abandoned and most of the buildings demolished in 1921. A couple of buildings remain.

Shafts sunk
  • North 75 feet (22.9 m)
  • East 273 feet (83.2 m)
  • West 273 feet (83.2 m)

Tilmanstone

Work was commenced at Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone
Tilmanstone is a small village in Kent, in the South East of England, near Eastry a much bigger and more developed area. Tilmanstone has no schools, few shops and a church and town hall. The population of Tilmanstone often work for the nearby companies, such as Pfizer or Tilmanstone Salads, or in...

 in 1906. An accident in 1909 killed three men and destroyed the pumping system, causing the mine to flood and work was abandoned for nine months. The site was connected to the East Kent Light Railway in 1912 and coal first brought to the surface in March 1913. An accident at the pit on February 27, 1931 resulted in Sydney William Padfield being awarded a bronze Edward Medal
Edward Medal
The Edward Medal is a British civilian decoration which was instituted by Royal Warrant on 13 July 1907 to recognise acts of bravery of miners and quarrymen in endangering their lives to rescue their fellow workers...

, the only one awarded in the Kent Coalfield. An aerial ropeway was built in 1930 to link the pit with Dover Harbour. This included tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

ling through the cliff at Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 to deliver the coal to a 5,000 ton bunker at the harbour. It wasn't used much after 1935, and was dismantled in 1954. In 1945, the workforce was 914, with 631 being employed sub-surface and 283 above. The colliery closed in 1986, having produced over 20,000,000 tons of coal. A system of tokens was used in the pithead baths and canteen and a lamp check was operated, in common with the majority of pits. All buildings have been demolished.

Shafts sunk
  • No 1. 1590 feet (484.6 m)
  • No 2. 3168 feet (965.6 m)
  • No 3. 3139 feet (956.8 m)

Wingham

Work at Wingham
Wingham, Kent
Wingham is a civil parish and English Kent village situated along the ancient coastal road, now the A257, from Richborough to London and close to Canterbury. It has existed since the Stone Age but only became established as a village in Roman times. The Domesday book tells us that during Saxon...

 was abandoned in 1914, without coal being found. Water had been hit, and there was no finance to buy pumps. The buildings were mothballed and sold in 1924, being used for a milling
Mill (grinding)
A grinding mill is a unit operation designed to break a solid material into smaller pieces. There are many different types of grinding mills and many types of materials processed in them. Historically mills were powered by hand , working animal , wind or water...

 business. The colliery was to be served by the East Kent Light Railway.

Shafts sunk
  • East 50 feet (15.2 m)
  • West 150 feet (45.7 m)

External links

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