Coppice Road Allotments Association

www.poyntonallotmentgardeners.org.uk

(affiliated to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd)

© C.R.A.A. 2008-16

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We’re growing on a coal mine!

The soil conditions on the Coppice Road site varies markedly from plot to plot, some areas are sandy and reasonably well drained, others are heavy clay intermixed with shale and small pieces of coal.  The area of land that includes the allotments is marked on old maps as being ‘mal dûr’ - old Norman French meaning ‘bad ground’ - parts of the land overlaying a seam of clay, while others sand and gravel. The dominant vegetation at that time would have been silver birch, alder and willow with added gorse and dank grassland, all indicative of a badly drained poor soil unsuited for arable crops. Added to this is that in past years the site was used for coal mining and parts of the site have had mine spoil mixed in with the topsoil. Consequently growing fruit and vegetables on this land, today, can present many plot holders with quite a challenge!


The short article below, was originally published in issue 8 of our newsletters, which were produced prior to the creation of this web site. It was written for us by David Kitching, who is a co-author of ‘Poynton - a Mining Village’. Further information on the book and other items of local interest can be found on his web-site at http://www.brocross.com


Colliery on the allotments


Whilst the Coppice Road allotments now produce fruit and vegetables, some two hundred years ago the production from the site was very different. In the 1790’s this was the site of two of the main shafts of the Worth Collieries. At this time the collieries in Worth were leased by Messrs. Clayton and Co. who were working the Four Foot and Five Foot seams at a depth of around 170 ft and 300 ft respectively. These shafts would have provided work for six to ten men working underground producing 15 to 20 tons of coal per day which was taken down to the coal yard at the Crescent adjacent to Poynton Pool.


Coppice Road had not yet been constructed and the main road eastwards from Hockley was what is now the public footpath running to the north side of the allotments. This served the Hig Lane Quarry, just to the north-east, from which the stone was obtained for a number of buildings including Poynton Church and the Newtown Houses on Coppice Road, before turning towards Elm Beds.

Water finding its way into the workings was a significant problem and the whole of the Worth workings in the Hig Lane area were drained by a steam pumping engine situated close to the present Alma Cottages on Coppice Road. This was the Worth Old Engine and is shown on the 1793 Estate Map prepared for Sir George Warren. A major investment, this beam engine worked on the atmospheric principle, with an open topped cylinder of around 30 inches diameter, and would have made four to six strokes per minute when working. The main winding shaft known as the Bye Pit was situated where the present day allotments now lie. It was served by a horse gin for raising the baskets of coal and probably operated for about twenty years until it became more economic to sink new shafts to reduce underground haulage distances at a time when sledges rather than rails were used to move the coal in the tunnels.


By the 1820’s the focus of the colliery operations had moved to Hockley and Higher Poynton and the Worth Old Engine pits were abandoned. In 1826 the only remaining parts of the pumping engine were the main beam and a few attachments awaiting scrapping. It is likely that the shafts were filled in and forgotten soon after and today the only reminder is the shale and pieces of coal from the Bye Pit that are still to be found on the surface within the allotments, a reminder of the days when coal was king in Poynton and Worth.

© David Kitching 20/06/2003


Other articles of local historical interest may be found on the ‘Poynton Web’  - the community web site for Poynton - http://www.poyntonweb.co.uk/history_of_poynton.htm