Montcliffe Colliery, Horwich.
The photo shows the hamlet of Montcliffe from the air. There is no virtually no trace of the original mine on the surface, but it used to be located, just to the right and behind, the row of houses at the top of the picture.
Both the "old" and the more modern quarries can be seen on the upper right of the picture. The main reason for displaying this picture is to show the square shaped structure, at the middle left hand side. This was the original reservoir for the Horwich water supply, the water being taken from from the bottom of one of the shafts in the mine!
A few old pictures of the colliery.
The two photo's above shows the pithead gear of number 2 shaft - one of the two shafts at Montcliffe. Although I make this statement because the information was received from someone who used to work at Montcliffe, I also have been told by someone else (whose grandfather was the manager of the mine at one time) that "there was only one pithead shaft, this being number 1, the other shaft being a vent shaft". Now I'm really confused!
Number 1 shaft winding engine at Montcliff plus a rather nice family photo with the pithead gear clearly visible in the background. John Firth contacted me to let me know that the man in the photo is Mr Reg Brownlow and that the vent shaft was situated over the top right hand chimney on the far right of the white house.
So what's it like underground?
No extensive explorations of the Montcliffe system have been undertaken by "the group" apart from a couple of brief exploratory visits (a few years ago) due to the dangerous state of some of the workings.
Although some areas of the mine are just as the day they were left, other sections are quite definately unsafe, and any further exploration of this system is felt to be foolhardy even by experienced mine explorers. On the exploratory visits, only a few photo's were taken but a some of those are shown below so that armchair explorers can at least see just what lies beneath their feet when they are walking near and around Georges Lane.
The photo above clearly shows the coal seam on both sides of the passageway with the bedding planes of sandstone making up the roof. This is a perfect example which illustrates the history of the rock, with the coal measures being formed of rotting vegetation in the hot humid swamps. The swamps suddenly vanished as they were then covered by sand grains being deposited by water action. Thus we have the clear deviding line between the coal and the sandstone.
The pictures above show an area at the end of the entrance tunnel. The height of the entrance tunnel is very awkward and it's length is enough to put off all but the most keen - believe you me - yeah yeah it's me in the picture .... but never again!, I have no real desire whatsoever to travel along this tunnel again, you can't stand, it's too long to crawl and a sort of sideways, squatting shuffle is about all that can be managed. Negotiating the rock collapse at the end of the entrance tunnel is not for the faint hearted!
The left hand photo shows the discovery of an old pit helmet left on top of a pile of waste material - the helmet has been left in situ exactly as it was found. The right hand picture shows part of the mine with all the coal worked out, the waste being left on the left hand side leaving the sandstone bedding plane clearly visible in the roof. The coal face is to the right of the group.
The left photo sows the rotted remains of an old pit tub with metal wheels. In areas of Montcliffe Mine, the tub rails are still in place. The right hand photo illustrates an area where different tunnels meet but one is on top of another!
The group have as yet, never found copies of the mine plans although we do have plans for most of the Winter Hill Mines. Anyone who may be in possession of the underground plans for Montcliffe ................ please get in touch here.
I have deliberately not given or shown too many details of this mine in order to discourage any further exploration for the structure is inherently unsafe and dangerous (note the modern gas detection equipment carried in the photo above!)
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