Register of ancient monuments
Reference number 1017568
Brow Pit Mine Shaft
DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENT
The monument includes the earthworks and the standing and below ground remains of Brow Pit, including a sample of an associated tramway. The site is situated 270m south west of Catherine Slack on the top of a scarp overlooking Holmfield to the west and Calderdale to the east.
The site is an early 19th-century coal pit head which served the Howcans Pottery located at the foot of the escarpment. The pit head was physically linked to the pottery by way of a stone-lined track or tramway which still survives to the west of the pit head enclosure wall. The precise date of the pit is unknown but it is documented as being disused by 1908. A date mark of 1927 is scratched into the surviving pintle stone (the stone in which the central pin of the horse drawn engine was situated) but this is thought to have been added after the site was abandoned.
The mine shaft appears on the ground as a deep circular depression approximately 8.5m in diameter and 2.5m deep. Originally the shaft was sunk 110m into the ground to meet hard bed coal. The sides of the shaft have slumped in places and on the north edge of the shaft this has exposed a cross section of a stone-paved surface. This is part of the gin race, a paved circular track around which a horse would be led to drive a horse engine or 'whim gin'. A whim gin had the horse circling the winding gear to one side of the shaft, as opposed to a 'cog and rung gin' where the horse went around the shaft itself with the winding gear directly above.
The gin circle is now buried beneath the grass, although the pintle stone is just visible in its centre. The stone is rectangular in shape and measures approximately 0.45m by 0.55m, with a rectangular shaped socket in its centre. The stone is almost completely covered in grass and from a distance appears as a small rectangular shaped mound. The area of the shaft and gin circle is enclosed by a drystone wall which stands to almost 2m in height along the northern edge. The wall is lower around the southern side and has suffered from stone robbing. There is an entrance in the west wall. The enclosure wall is unusual in that it curves in a perfect semi-circle around the gin race on the northern side. In the south west corner of the enclosure the wall extends west to form a rectangular shaped 'compartment'. Within this is evidence of a lean-to type structure. A low wall runs east to west across the compartment and the ground surface is lower than the surrounding area. Further evidence of the structure comes from the enclosing wall where, on the western side, it slopes to the south defining the pitch of the roof of the building.
Approximately 5m to the west of the enclosure, and heading downslope to the south, are the remains of a stone-lined track or tramway. This follows the contours of the scarp but has in parts been terraced into the hillside. It is bounded on both sides by low drystone walling which survives up to 0.5m in height. The surface of this track is scattered with fragments of post-medieval pottery, many of which originate from wasters (pottery which is discarded immediately after firing because of cracking or distortion).
To the north west of the walled enclosure are the spoil heaps associated with the pit. The spoil heaps will have built up during the excavation and use of the pit shaft. The amount of debris deposited here has created a huge artificial mound which will contain important archaeological deposits spanning the chronological depth of the site.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000 coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. The term 'nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap. Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops, pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites. Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual component features are considered to merit protection.
The earthworks, standing and buried remains of Brow Pit are well preserved and will contain significant archaeological deposits relating to its use. The gin circle and associated shaft have been identified as one of the best examples in England. The diversity of the surviving features provide an important insight into the layout and use of the site and into the physical, social and economic impact the industry as a whole had on the local community and wider landscape.