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Galleries Opencast Mining

Moss Carr Opencast Gallery

The site produced a significant tonnage from 2001 to 2005 and during operations was able to retain hedgerows using an Augur to obtain coal from under these conditions.   The mining company also provided assistance with removals of the surface soil cover enabling the West Yorkshire Archaeologists to excavate a Romano/British historical site and produce a report on their findings  (Covered in this website).

September 2002 
Following a request to make a personal visit, Banks Opencast arranged a viewing programme under the supervision of one of their assistant surveyors Mr. J  Drinkall, undertaken in one of their vehicles.   I was able to see at first hand the clearing of a section of the site in preparation for deeper excavation (development) and the removal of overburden.    

The next stage went into the ‘pit’ where the seams had been exposed and coal extraction was taking place (coal face), it was interesting to see the layering of the strata in between the three working seams.  The seams were Stanley Main, Methley Park Top (Kents Thick) and Methley Park Lower (Kents Thin).    

We then completed the tour by seeing the back filling operations taking place prior to levelling and restoration.    Throughout it was possible to note the efficient working of the pit, maximising on robust earth and coal moving equipment (pictures appended) minimising on manpower requirements.

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Industry Opencast Mining

Opencast Mining – Park Lane

Gamblers Twist in the Tail

It was 1956 and after landing the job of chain lad with Sir Lindsay Parkinsons (Outcrop Contractors) at their site at Park Lane.    Our mystery friend found that apart from toting the tripod and assisting the surveyor, probably the most important part of the job was cycling into the village each day for the buns from Radcliffe’s shop and also placing the bets. Good business for both bookies – Hodgsons and Harry Hawkins, and he shared it out equitably.

One or two of us with nothing better to do latched on to helping with the errands. Round about that time the Miners Welfare had a TV and games prefab erected for their retired members, here you could switch on the racing and watch the winners and then call round to pick up the winnings. Mind, you couldn’t be late at Harry Hawkins’ shed, Harry didn’t have a ticker tape and took his results over the phone. It didn’t take long to figure out the possibility of watching a certainty head for the winning post, say 2 furlongs out then racing round with all the bets including a small bet on the immediate race.

So that’s what we did, and it worked, trouble was our hero had an attack of conscience and had to ask another to collect the winnings. A second tilt on another day produced a horse that could not maintain its first place, then a selection the following week to back a horse to lose just to add authenticity saw the horse overtake all and come in first at good odds. Another attack of conscience and he decided that was enough.

In conversation with Harry Hawkins many years later I confided to him our misdemeanour, to which he replied ‘ Oh, I knew what was going on all along’ he added, ‘ I was only too pleased to be getting the business’ the twist was when he said that ‘ ***** could have had a small bet each week if he wanted, the business was too good to miss’

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Industry Opencast Mining

Opencast Mining Moss Carr Extension

1st February, 2001

So, the application to mine opencast coal on the 77 acre site at Boat Lane has been rejected by Leeds City Council, the application, which was to obtain 100,000 tonnes of coal also included proposals to extract a considerable tonnage of sand and gravel.

The report in the Pontefract & Castleford Express much to the satisfaction of the locals, stated that Miller Mining who had made the application now claim the site ‘was no longer their responsibility as that arm of their operation had been taken over by Scottish Coal’. Scottish Coal, it says in the paper, also disclaimed responsibility for the site. (confused!)

Good News, but does it augur badly for the application by HJ Banks and Company Limited to opencast at the Moss Carr site, does it give Leeds City Council the moral high ground and a counter argument to agreeing to the much larger site along that ancient right of way at Moss Carr? I wonder. 

Methley has been saddled with deep seam mining for the last 150 years and opencast mining in pieces for the last 50 years, not forgetting the massive carbuncle that is the St Aidans site. I first heard night time pile driving for the St. Aidans site in the 1950’s.    Legislation in this country ensures that contractors reinstate the land to the state it had been, but quite frankly I think this village (the land) has had enough.

Well that’s it (March 2001), the application has been approved and the Moss Carr site will be another area of Methley to succumb to the earthmover and the excavations and mounds.   Livewire (Parish Magazine) reports that the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service will make a survey before work commences. I wonder if it will be a comprehensive survey, including metal detection?

I also wonder if a renewed application will be made for the Methley Ings site in, say three years time. If not perhaps an application could be made for the St Margarets area, or why not the Hollings?
There could be no end to it, perhaps the man whose name is on the deeds could let us know.

Archaeology Report – Moss Carr
An archaeological survey instigated by Leeds City Planning Authority as a requirement of the planning application to opencast was undertaken by the WYAS . The geophysical survey made up of field examination and aerial photography was completed by archaeologists retained by HJ Banks & Co. This was subsequently passed on to WYAS to complete along with a desk based assessment. The survey (greyscale gradiometer) indicated the following :-
•features associated with early drainage works
•possible archaeological activity on the escarpment
•infilled ditches of probable archaeological activity
•documentary evidence indicates mediaeval occupation in the Moss Carr area
•a settlement at Moss Carr is recorded on a map of 1787 (Whitelock)
•a small number of artefacts were recovered from trial trenches cut into the area
•no known roman artefacts were found on this site
•the extraction area consisted of glacial deposits – predominantly boulder clay with a band of sand and gravel. The site is situated on middle coal measures.

The report to WYAS was received 7th July, 2000 – the above list is my abstraction from information available at the WYAS,  Wakefield. I am indebted to Mr I Sanderson for assistance in providing the material and contribution.

September 2002
Following a request to make a personal visit, Banks Opencast arranged a viewing programme under the supervision of one of their assistant surveyors Mr. J Drinkall, undertaken in one of their vehicles. Many thanks to them for that – the tour in itself was both an education and an appreciated buzz.

I was able to see at first hand the clearing of a section of site in preparation for deeper excavation (development) and the removal of overburden.

The next stage went into the ‘pit’ where the seams had been exposed and coal extraction was taking place (coal face), it was interesting to see the layering of the strata inbetween the three working seams. The seams were Stanley Main, Methley Park Top (Kents Thick) and Methley Park Lower (Kents Thin).

We then completed the tour by seeing the back filling operations taking place prior to levelling and restoration. Throughout it was possible to note the efficient working of the pit maximising on robust earth moving equipment with minimum manpower requirements.

Categories
Footpaths Industry Opencast Mining Social

Former Opencast Workings St Aidans

RSPB Nature Reserve – like a phoenix from the ashes of the opencast mine the now restored site will be officially open from 9.30am on Saturday 25th May. It looks as if there will be no fancy scissors cutting or gathering of big wigs, so just turn up any time between 9.30 and 5pm to the visitor centre on Astley Lane between Allerton Bywater and Swillington.

Mind, you can access the site from any one of three gates alongside the river Aire from Methley (as we have been able to do for some months now).

The site has been restored by Harworth Estates – formerly UK Coal in collaboration with the RSPB who are to manage the 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat and interconnecting footpaths. Grassland, reed beds, woodland and open water with man made islands boasting any number of birds and mammals are there to view.

I expect there will be a lot of expensive binnocs and scopes on view with people looking for that great crested…..

Visit the site at this electronic connection      www.rspb.org.uk/staidans

 

Categories
Flora and Fauna Footpaths Opencast Mining

St Aidan’s Nature Reserve

What better way to dispose of an unwanted opencast coal mining excavation can there be than to convert it into a nature reserve with associated trails and view points.  Opencast coal mining operations were taking place as far back as the 1950’s and have continued right up to recent years despite the dramatic river intrusion following a collapse of the river bank (Aire) in the 1980’s.

Leeds City Council along with the successive mining companies have progressively uprated the site enabling wildlife to re-establish and prosper and constructing the ways and means of access for the benefit of the public.

The final act was to hand over the site to the RSPB  to manage the 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat with interconnecting footpaths, grassland, reed beds, woodland and open water with man made islands boasting any number of birds and mammals which are there to view.

All this enabling the RSPB to encourage and further develop our knowledge of the many facets of wild life on our doorstep by means of a leisure pursuit.  It is suitable for joggers, walkers, cyclists, people with push chairs even people on horseback are welcome.

The entrance gate from the Shann Hall bridge delivers access onto a central causeway which bisects the newly named Lemonroyd Lake and Main Lake on the right.   Other means of approach from Methley are at the Lemonroyd Bridge and the Caroline Bridge gates.

The Causeway continues further to again bisect on the Victoria and the Albert reedbeds after dividing to give access to the main pathway which, to the east skirts the newly named Astley Lake and Fleakingley Reservoir.

To the west the path leads to the Ha’penny Pool, Oxbow Lake, Lowther Lake and Bowers Lake before meeting at the Visitor Centre.

North from the Centre offers a superb elevated viewing position giving a panorama of the whole site and indeed the village of Methley.    Further information from here –    www.rspb.org.uk/staidans