Broseley Local History Society  
Incorporating the Wilkinson Society

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Clay Mining Abandonment Plans
List of  Mines in the Broseley Area 1868-1945
Opencast coal working at Linley Green 1947
Some mining incidents in the Broseley Coalfield ( Ivor Brown from Journal No 8 - 1980)
More pictures of Mining Sites in Broseley

Broseley is located in the southern end of the Coalbrookdale coalfield. There are a number of minerals available notably coal, ironstone, brick, red and tile clays and limestone to the west of the Broseley Fault, at Benthall.  All these minerals have been exploited over the years.  The minerals are at a comparatively shallow depth and were mined by insetts (adits) into the hillside, by shallow shafts or in the case of limestone by quarrying.

It has been claimed that coal was mined by the Romans who had a large city nearby at Wroxeter.  The first records of mining are from the 15th Century when in 1417-8 John Hadyngton and John Horsley rented a mine from the Lord of the Manor. In the 16th Century Wenlock Priory was involved in mining coal on its lands in Broseley.

This part of Shropshire was pioneering modern techniques of extraction with longwall mining being used to extract coal from the early 17th century. Wooden railways were certainly in use from 1605 when Richard Wilcox and William Wells had a 1km waggonway carrying coal from the Birch batch in Broseley to the river Severn.

In the early 19th century the coal gradually became exhausted. By the 1830's the local furnaces had closed partly because of the exhaustion of coking coal reserves.  Ironstone was still however being exported to the Black Country where local ironmasters, such as John Onions, had built new works.  Extraction continued until the 1880's however the scale of extraction was relatively small with only 126 people being employed at mines in Broseley in 1840.

The mining of clay and a little coal for the manufacture of  bricks and tiles continued until the 1950's. The reworking of shallow seams for coal and clay by opencast methods started in mid 20th century at Benthall and Linley Green in 1947 (see article). It still continues (1999) at Caughley on the site where coal was extracted and taken to the Severn on a waggonway in the 18th century.

There is extensive archeological evidence of early 19th century mining in the large spoil heaps associated with ironstone mining.   These are substantial clay mounds usually with a shaft on the top which are the waste heaps from mining the pennystone ironstone.  This seam comprised a matrix of nodules of ironstone in clay.  The clay containing the  ironstone was mined and dumped on the heap to weather.   Normally women would be employed to pick the nodules of ironstone from the clay which they would carry in wooden boxes on their head. Because the clay was spread all around the shaft as the heap grew in height so did the shaft. 

As the mineral seams were at a shallow depth many of the mines were drift mines going horizontally into the hillside.  The remains of one such mine, from which water continually flows, can be seen near the New Inn on Bridge Road  Benthall. Like most of the mines in the area there is no record of when the mine was operating or what minerals were worked. =>

At the Posenhall to the west of Broseley in the late 1990's Clay Colliery Company were extracting coal and fireclay.  The workings lie at the very edge of the coalfield where the lowest seams in the series are close to the surface. As well being able to see the two coal seams being worked, faulting in the strata is evident to the right of the excavator.=>

The most substantial remains of mining are the waste heaps from mining the pennystone ironstone. The main period of working for pennystone was from the late 18th Century to the mid 19th.  These have been planted with trees which make them particularly attractive in summer.  Below is the Barnetts Leasow mine. It was probably worked in association with the nearby Barnetts Leasow furnaces which opened in 1797 by Jesson & Wright.  In 1838 it was being worked  for ironstone by James Foster who owned the Madeley Court Ironworks across the river.  It is however more likely, that at this time the ironstone from this mine was being taken by tramway to the Severn and shipped to one of his furnaces in the Black Country. =>

In the early days of mining it was normally a requirement of the lease that the shaft was filled and the land returned to its original state.  Later shafts were capped, usually with a brick dome.  In some cases it is reported that shafts were blocked by putting planks of wood into the cage and dropping it into the shaft.   Some years later when the cage rotted the shaft unexpectedly re-opened.  
Left i is the cap for the shaft at Turners yard mine Caughley, which was108' deep and 5' diameter. Surviving shafts are curricular and brick lined with a typical diameter of 6' 6".  Earlier mines, exposed by opencast workings, often had square shafts lined with timber. 
This mine fell out of use in the early 20th century but underground mining continued from a nearby until the 1950's.. 

Opencast mining started some time after the underground mining stopped. This was on a site some hundred of metres to the  south of  shaft at Turners Yard.  As at Posenhall, two miles to the west the seams are at a shallow depth.  Mining here took place in the late 18th century but little evidence can be seen of this.  Extraction of coal  is still continuing (Dec 1999).  =>