COAL MINING IN LUNESDALE / An introductory study into the history of
coal mining in the valley of the River Lune and its tributaries in North
West England by Philip John Hudson BA (OU), BEd(Hons), MPhil. A5 300
gms laminated softback, 320 pp on 110 gms stitched art paper, over 60
b&w photos, 50 maps and diagrams, index, comprehensive footnotes and
bibliography. Price £15.00 post free from Hudson History, Proctor
House, Kirkgate, Settle, N Yorks BD24 9DZ.
Where is Lunesdale you may well ask? Answer, a part of North Yorkshire
through which the River Lune and itís tributaries flow. Often referred
to as Lonsdale, the Lune Valley is fine walking country but I never
appreciated its coal mining potential during my perambulations.
The author begins by describing in some detail the geology of the area.
The coal measures appear in seams which vary from 1 inch to 10 feet in
width with seams as small as 18 inches being mined extensively, with
The chapter on the History of Mining suggests that coal mining dates
back to the Romans. The earliest reference to coal mining at Lunesdale
is at Wegber, circa AD 1520 in the parish of Halton. The bulk of this
book concerns coal mining in the 16th to 19th centuries. The literature
on this topic is sparse but the author has located a gem: The George
Smith Diaries, dating from 1815. Smith was the Hornby Castle Estates
manager and his jottings have proved to be an invaluable record of the
estateís coal mining activities and without it much of the detail of the
day to day running of the estate and coal mining activities of others in
the vicinity during this period would never have seen the light of day.
The main body of the book is a detailed account of the mines in the
area: Caton, Littledale, North Quernmore, Lancaster, South Quernmore,
Wennington, Bentham, Mewith, Greystone Gill, Ingleton and Burton etc.
Here we benefit from the authorís ten years of research. A combination
of perusing old ordnance survey maps, examining local and national
archives and field work has produce a welter of information on the mines
of the area. Even though many of the mines were shallow, problems with
ground water meant that the miners frequently had to resort to soughs or
The final chapter on the Families Involved in the Lunedale Coal Mining
raises some fascinating questions. Is the Edward Cookson (or Collison)
who rented the Coyle mines in 1565 related to the Collinson family,
still living in the area and who worked the mines at Megges well into
the 19th century? A search of parish registers turned up an un-named
miner buried in 1663 and a collier, Christopher Johnson married in
1769. In fact, the surname Johnson occurs quite often in connection
with coal mining in this area, with the last being recorded at Wray Wood
Mine in the 1870s. If they are the same family line, this shows an
involvement of over 200 years in coal.
In view of the wealth of information contained in this book and in the
absence of any standard academic work on this topic it will surely be
the definitive work on this area for many years to come.