Wet Earth Colliery Exploration Group. In Association with Amazon.co.uk


Bit's & Pieces from the Irwell Valley at Clifton.

Whilst pottering around in the valley near Clifton Country Park, the group often comes across all sorts of bits and pieces which may be of interest to others, but which are not strictly to do with the colliery. This page will be reserved for those bits and pieces! Although this site is headed "Wet Earth Colliery Exploration Group", that group is in fact no longer in existance and this web site is compliled purely by a group of individuals (many of whom were never even members of the original Exploration Group) who care about the Wet Earth Site and its environs.

Wet Earth Pit Tally (pit tally's are sometimes known as "pit checks")

The photograph to the left, shows a "pit tally" issued to underground workers at Wet Earth. The initials stand for the owners of the Colliery, the Clifton and Kearsley Coal Company Limited. This particular style of tally may also have been available at other pits owned by the C & K company and may not be unique to Wet Earth. These were made in brass and in most collieries, one was issued to each miner, and his individual number was stamped on the front.

When the miner went underground, the tally would be left at the surface. In this way it was always possible for management to see exactly how many people were underground at any time and to know who they were. The tally system worked slightly differently at different collieries (sometimes the tally was left in return for a lamp, sometimes it was handed in before the miner entered the cage to go underground etc).

Whilst exploring the tunnels at Wet Earth, three tally's were found. These are now in safe keeping. So far as I am aware these are the only known examples of this particular pit tally (although I will check with other tally collectors to see if anyone else knows of further copies). Needless to say, if you have another example please get in touch with me.

If you are interested in pit tally's then take a look at the web site here or take a look at the Mining Memorabilia Collectors Web site.


Found 12.5.2001 (somewhere near the visitor centre!)

The valley was once a thriving community with cottages, a large coal mine, railway sidings, mine owners house etc. In those days, there was no municipal refuse removal service, so unwanted household or industrial rubbish were just tipped wherever it may have seemed appropriate at that time. When searching through old rubbish sites in the valley, members of the Exploration Society have come across a number of 19th century bottles, bowls and stems from clay pipes, along with large amounts of broken pottery of all descriptions.

One interesting find amongst the "household rubbish" is a fair old quantity of old oyster or similar shells!!! Either we have discovered the remains of the lord of the households junk, or we have found out that the Irwell once contained freshwater shellfish which were freely eaten by the locals. Anyone else any other ideas?







Yet more stuff found on 19.5.01.

The Clifton dump!

People have been e-mailing me about the "dig" mentioned above, asking the age of what was found, why was it dumped where it was, what type of things were found etc.

Well, now you can see the "dig"! After the country park authorities several months ago, requested that digging stop, the site has not been revisted - although at that time the site was exhausted. The artifacts found were about 4 to 6 feet below the present surface, located very near to an ancient pathway. Examination of the artifacts produced large amounts of broken pottery, the ink or cream jars shown above, are the only form of pottery found intact. Although bottles were found, there were none which ever contained alcohol. Oyster type shells were found in abundance but by far the most surprising finds were the vast amount of clay pipes discovered. When digging other dumps or tips in the area, one often finds clay pipe, but nowhere has anyone found so many in such a tiny area. We can think of no easy explanation as to why they exist in such numbers in such a place - very few pipe stems or parts of stems were found. A total of 86 clay bowls were unearthed - the longest stem found was around 6 inches. Some of the last pieces of pottery discovered at the site are possibly the best for dating the dump- Salt glazed stoneware from Bourne & Sons Denby & Codnor Park Pottery which can definately be dated to the 1833 to 1861 period. One of the clay pipes has a makers cartouch which will give a 10 year date period once we can finally get it identified. I'll put more news on about the finds when more information is forthcoming. 7.9.01 Latest news on the clay bowl mentioned above. The clay pipe collectors society feel that this pipe with the cartouch is actually Dutch and not English. Their reference document "De Nederlandse Kleipijp" by D H Duco identifies the bowl and mark to range between 1680 and 1750. They cannot be more precise because even they don't have the exact markings on another pipe. Now that's a turnup for the books!!!!!

Although all of the finds are in individuals homes, they will all be made available should the Park Authorities ever wish to mount an exhibition of archeological items found in the valley. All involved in the finds, feel that the public should be kept fully aware at what has been discovered, and this web site is intended to diseminate this information to anyone interested in the Valley. No excavations or explorations of any type are currently being conducted in the valley so far as I am aware.

The site of the "old" ford!

Did you know that on the banks of the Irwell at Giants Seat you can still find the remains of the ancient "paved" trackway on the Clifton side of the river, leading right down to the ford which once existed at that site. If only the moss and weeds currently covering the "track" were to be cleared away by someone, then there'd be yet another bit of local history restored. This would then be one bit of real history in the country park that the authorities could actually leave on display to the public. Most of the rest are either closed down, padlocked off or you're forbidden to get into them.

Grab your chance folks, look at the old fording point before "they" decide the site is 1. Too dangerous for the public 2. contravenes the health and safety regulations 3. Is owned by Salford and is therefore henceforth up for sale etc! Go and see it whilst the last bit remaining is still there! To be honest this particular bit of track was so well built that it'll probably last a few decades yet - the upstream side is getting slowly swept away by floods so if you want to volunteer a rebuild ............... There is no sign of a trackway on the opposite bank which is covered in extensive sediment.

Long before the present suspension bride was errected there used to be another bridge on exactly the same site. You can see the original sandstone support brickwork beneath the present bridge. Nice ferns on the Clifton bank especially the tiny ones under the overhanging rock. DON'T TOUCH THEM ........ leave them for others to observe.

Bygone names preserved.

At various places on the riverbank between the motorway bridge and Giants Seat, there are a large number of initials carved into the soft red sandstone rock at various points down at river level. The bulk of them seem to appear around the various tunnel entrances. A number of the initials are dated but some of them are obviously of much an older era and have been hacked out with miners picks. Next to one tunnel entrance, the initials "HB" appear, obviously made by a miners pick. This one is interesting for the same initials appear within the main Wet Earth tunnels and bear the same style and pickmarks. Could this "HB" be our areas original graffiti merchant?



See the river in a different light and from a new viewpoint!

Virtually everyone views the Irwell within the Clifton Country Park from the riverside path high up on it's banks. In summer when the water level is low, why not view it all from a different viewpoint and do something slightly different. Take your wellies and walk down the river at the actual edge of the water or even paddling in it. If you drop down the Clifton banking to river level somewhere round about opposite the Nursery on the opposite bank then you'll find a different world. Using the floor of the river and bits of the banking you can "fairly safely" walk right down the river to the M60 from this point apart from a couple of places where you may have to climb up the river bank. This walk is NOT suitable for very young children.

Yeah, yeah yeah ......... I know there's an element of danger, I know that you'll probably need a tetnus injection if you fall in the river but go on be a devil ........ do something that the authorities wouldn't approve of ............ and have a wonderful day. On a summers day, it's adventurous, fascinating and most of you would love the experience. Try to spot some of the carved initials on the rocks. Look for the tiny fish (yup, they really ARE there). Hey, I know it's not gorge scrambling in the Lake District but what do you want here in Salford?

More bits and pieces as soon as I get time.

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