Agecroft Colliery

Agecroft Colliery was a coalmine on the Manchester Coalfield in the Agecroft district of Pendlebury, that first opened in 1844 in the historic county of Lancashire, England. It exploited the coal seams of the Middle Coal Measures of the Manchester Coalfield.

First colliery (1844-1932)

The colliery had two spells of use, the first was between 1844 and 1932. The pit was sunk by Andrew Knowles and Sons and worked an area to the south of the Pendleton Fault. The fault to the north with a displacement of 695 metres to the north east, formed a natural boundary to the colliery. In 1896 Agecroft Nos. 1 & 2 Collieries employed 371 underground and 111 surface workers while Agecroft Nos. 3 & 4 employed 15 underground and 39 on the surface.

The colliery was located close to Clifton Hall Colliery (Lumns Lane, Clifton), and had access to the Manchester and Bolton Railway line and the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal.

Second colliery (1960-1991)

In the late 1940s/early 1950s the National Coal Board (NCB) aware that coal reserves in the existing collieries were becoming exhausted, looked at re-opening the colliery. The NCB carried out deephole-boring in July 1951. In total 7 boreholes were drilled, the deepest was 1,155 metres (3,790 feet). In early 1953 it was deduced that there was an estimated 80 million tonnes of workable coal in seams varying from 68 cm to 213 cm (2 ft 2½ in to 7 ft 0 in) in thickness.

The second Agecroft Colliery was the first coal mine to be sunk in Lancashire since World War II. It cost £9 million to realign and restructure the pit. The new colliery was situated between Agecroft Road (A6044), Dell Avenue and the Manchester to Bolton railway line. The old Nos. 3 & 4 shafts were realigned for coal extraction, and No. 5 shaft sunk (610 metres in depth, 7.3 metres in diameter) to provide ventilation and for winding men and equipment into the mine. A tunnelling programme commenced in August 1957 and 10,060 metres of tunnel was driven to allow for development of initial output. First coal winding began in August 1960. New surface buildings were built and the colliery was substantially complete by 1960.

Disaster of 1958

In 1958, while construction workers were sinking shafts, an underground explosion killed one man and injured twelve, trapping them at the bottom of the 1,900 feet shaft. The accident was attributed to a misunderstanding in signalling, when men at the top mistakenly believed that the men at the bottom had left the pit and commenced demolition sending tonnes of rock and debris down the shaft.

Final years of operation

Some workers at the pit participated in the miners' strike from 1984-1985. Pickets were held outside the entrance to the colliery, and many families suffered hardship over the winter months. The colliery closed in March 1991 and demolition began later the same year. The closure of Agecroft Power Station was announced in November 1992. The station closed soon after; demolition of the site commenced in 1993 and culminated in the destruction of the four cooling towers in May 1994.

Agecroft Power Station

The colliery's main customer was the Central Electricity Generating Board’s Agecroft Power Station close to the River Irwell. The coal was transported to the power station via an enclosed conveyor belt on a bridge over Agecroft Road. Some coal was moved by merry-go-round coal hopper trains shuttling between coal mines and power stations.

Post-closure and redevelopment

In the late 1990s, a business enterprise park opened on the colliery site. Much of the land remains unused. An international railfreight terminal was planned next to the Manchester to Bolton railway line but, though a spur line was built, the development did not materialise. A housing development has been built on Agecroft Road on the Thermalite factory site and a prison, HMP Forest Bank and Youth Offenders' Institute built close to the power station site.(HMP Forest Bank). The land has been landscaped, and footpaths constructed to encourage recreational use.

Swinton RLFC has plans to build a 6,000-seat stadium in the Agecroft area which is expected to be built early in 2012.