Wet Earth Colliery Exploration Group.


More details about the newly found documentation concerning Brindley's "underground water wheel"

Recently discovered evidence indicates that perhaps the well documented "water wheel chamber" (the one near the Wet Earth Shafts) may not after all be the one built by James Brindley! It would seem that HIS waterwheel chamber, the Old Doe Water wheel, may have been underground at the base of a shaft near to the coal outcrop at the extreme bend in the Irwell near to the suspension bridge. The power from the wheel was transferred via surface metal or wooden "pumping rods" to the "Old Doe Pump" located at the Old Engine Pit, nearer to the visitor centre.

Alan Davies, curator of the Lancashire Mining Museum poses the following as a possible scenario to the development of the mining site:

"The new evidence might give a sequence of events such as;

1. Brindley designs first wheel powered system c.1750. This drains back to river via tunnel beneath the Marina. The photograph below (taken from near Giants Seat Nursery in the early 1900's) just may show the outflow from that tunnel - but it could also just be a canal overflow outlet!

2. By 1790 Wet Yard Pit (now known as Wet Earth) is linked via canal inlet to Bolton Bury Canal.

3. At the same time or shortly after, a cross culvert is formed from the siphon upshaft to form an actual navigable canal from the area near the first water wheel, which being still linked with actual mineworkings needed an easy outlet for it's coal. We are always told the 'feeder stream' was never navigable, but why not? It certainly looks possible to me. Why would they install pinch points and overflows on purely a feeder stream.

4. We then have a dual inlet canal system taking coal off to the aqueduct. At Wet Yard pit the end of the canal inlet also travels below ground alongside the downcast for around 50m.

5. The Evans and Pilkingtons arrive c.1860's. By then the first waterwheel may have gone into disuse. Their correspondence at the time suggests they scrapped the Old Doe waterwheel pumping system.

6. The waterwheel at Wet Earth is then built.

7. The old branch underground canal being disused is closed, water heading into the new wheelchamber.

8.The old canal to Giants Seat then actually does become a feeder stream for the colliery inlet and Bolton Bury in general.

One thing seems to certain is that the wheel now known to have existed at Giants Seat must now be the prime candidate for the first Brindley wheel system and not the existing wheelchamber."

Keep your eye on this site for more details!


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