Poynton Collieries - voices of the workforce

In the mid 1970's I spent some time talking with the men who had worked in the pits at Poynton. It was forty years since the last pit had closed and the numbers were already dwindling. The tapes that I recorded at that time are not of a high technical quality as I only had a cheap borrowed cassette recorder and even cheaper tapes. They laid in a drawer until 2002 when I rediscovered them and transferred their contents to CD.

Some of the files are now available as streaming audio by clicking on the links below. Please remember that they were not recorded with any intention of broadcasting them, rather as an aid to my researches into the history of the collieries. It is only now, when most, if not all, the men who laboured underground have all gone that their value as a historic record has become apparent. I hope that you find them of interest. In order to hear the files you will require a player such as Wndows Media Player or equivalent.

Douglas Wainwright was apprenticed as an engineer at Poynton Collieries in the 1920's and was responsible for maintaining the colliery engines and plant. It was my intention to talk to Mr Wainwright again once I had developed my knowledge of the collieries further and was in a position to ask some sensible detailed questions, but sadly he died only a few weeks after I made these initial recordings in the summer of 1975. He was also responsible for taking several photographs of the collieries whilst they were operating and several of these can be found on this website. The sound files run for around 5 minutes each and were recorded in the order that they are presented here.
1. Starting at the pits, dirt tip ropeway, boilers
2. Boilers, pumps, Canal Pit, winding ropes
3. Electric power, Nelson Pit tramway, Oval Pit engine, Cornish pumping engine
4. Cornish pumping engine, Round Pit engine
5. Pumps, taking horses into the pit, coal cutters
6. Coal cutters, ventilation, runaway boiler truck
7. Runaway boiler truck, railway locos, workshops

Herbert Walton was born in 1892 and took a keen interest in the collieries from an early age. He started work driving ponies in the Park Oval Pit in 1907 and progressed to face worker at the Lawrance Pit until it closed in 1935. When I recorded him in 1975 he was able to recount the tales of men who had told him of their experiences in the 1830's and 1840's including one man who had watched the opening celebrations for the Macclesfield Canal in 1831. It appears that Mr Walton's memories were quite accurate and where official records exist they generally corroborate his memory of incidents. Sadly Mr Walton died a few months after these recordings were made.
1. Early pits, children underground, Anson Pit
2. Ventilation, small pits at Adlington, opening of canal
3. Pits that he worked in, Quarry Pit, Lord and Lady Pits
4. Anson Pit, Oval Pit, working underground, jig brows (complicated description of how they operated)
5. Tramming and face working
6. Round Pit, ironstone, Arley mine, closure of Anson Pit, Nelson Pit tramway
7. Pay and strikes
8. Strikes, 1926 strike
9. Outputs, coal cutting, haulage and pumping engines
10. Canal Pit, canal transport, railway inclines operation, locomotives
11. Canal boats, run down of the collieries and closure

More files will follow as I find time to convert them for the website.

If you have enjoyed these sound files or have any comments or further information please let me know.

Back to Poynton Collieries introduction

© David Kitching 2002

Last updated 15.9.2002