by John Moss
Collieries & Mining Museums
Century Industrial History in Manchester
Green Lane, Astley, near Tyldesley, Wigan M29 7JB. Telephone:
01942 708 969.
Green was a fully operational coal mine until its closure in 1970, and
has now been fully restored as a working museum. It was not a particularly
old colliery, only opening in 1908, but during its heydays in the 1950s
there were two shafts, 14 underground levels and over 2100 employees.
But, by 1970 it had become an uneconomical pit, as demand for coal decreased
and cheaper foreign imports became available, and it was forced to cease
production. Fortunately, Lancashire County Council, urged on by several
other local leading dignitaries, saw the value of preserving this piece
of local, historical and industrial heritage, the last of many. Actually,
the area had been known for its dozens of collieries, which, over successive
post-war years been closed down and disassembled, and had Astley Green
been demolished no local mines would have existed today. It now boasts,
(sadly), the only surviving headgear and engine house in Lancashire.
It has what is reputedly Europe's largest steam winding engine, located
in a magnificent engine house - this enormous 3,300 horse power twin
tandem compound engine is well worth seeing.
There are also extensive displays of industrial mining and related artefacts.
This Colliery Museum is now maintained and run by the members of the
Red Rose Steam Society.
Astley Green is located about 10 miles west of Manchester, on the edge
of Chat Moss, an area whose flatness makes the colliery headgear a landmark
for many miles around. Drive west in the direction of Liverpool out
of Manchester and through Salford on the East Lancs Road, and you will
see the mine to your left just off the main road.
Every Sunday from 12.00noon until 5.00pm, but closed Christmas Day and
Boxing Day. It is also open on Tuesday and Thursdays from 1.30pm to
5.00pm. School parties and groups may visit at other times by prior
arrangement. Please check times before setting off - times may change.
Former Lancashire Mining Museum, Buile Hill, Salford
Hill Park , Eccles Old Road, Salford M6 8GL.
Tel: 0161 736 1832.
Fax: 0161 745 9490
in this listed Georgian building designed by Sir Charles Barry, the
architect of the Houses of Parliament and the City
Art Gallery in Manchester, the museum consists of two reproduction
coal mines, a gallery to illustrate the history and development of coal
mining in Lancashire and exhibitions of mining art. Admission is free.
Buile Hil and its
Built between 1825 and 1827 to designs by Charles Barry, Buile Hill
is his only known villa-house in the neo-classical style. Its most distinctive
feature is arguably the covered carriage porch (known as a port-cochère).
Later additions to the building were made by Edward Walters, architect
of the Free Trade Hall, Manchester.
The house has had many locally distinguished occupants, including, from
1825-1840, Sir Thomas Potter, first Mayor of Manchester, John Potter,
his son and MP for Manchester, and John Marsland Bennett, Mayor of Manchester.
Salford Corporation purchased the house and 80 acres of adjoining parkland
in 1902 for the sum of £23,000, and it was opened as a Natural
History Museum in 1906, and still survived as a Science Museum into
In 1959, in collaboration with the National Coal Board, the building
was excavated and the Buile Hill No.1 Pit was constructed in the basement.
Later, in the 1930s a drift pit was constructed on the ground floor.
Extensive dry rot forced its closure in the early 1970s and after complete
restoration it was not fully reopened to the public until 1979.
Financial problems and successive Local Authority cutbacks and lack
of funding eventually closed this fine museum - and it is currently
rumoured to be redeveloped as a hotel or executive apartments. (Accountants
win - we lose!!) Latest
information is that the house at Buile Hill has now been sold for around
£250,000 for some form of private redevelopment, possibly a hotel
- Books about Manchester
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