Water Haigh Colliery

A short stretch of roadway with some rusting iron fence posts just off Fleet Lane in Woodlesford is all that survives of Water Haigh colliery. Compared to others in the area the pit was a relatively new one as its two main shafts were only sunk to the Silkstone and Beeston seams several years before the First World War. Coal was mined for about 60 years before closure in 1970 when the National Coal Board deemed it had run out of economically viable reserves. Before nationalisation in 1947 it was owned by Henry Briggs, Son and Company Ltd. and throughout its life the coal was carried away on the Aire and Calder Canal, by the railway, and by lorry. Here Frank Benson and Ken Watson, who were both colliery clerks, remember their working life at Water Haigh.

Frank Benson and Ken Watson talk about their time at Water Haigh

1932 map showing Water Haigh’s buildings, railway lines and sidings.
Ken Watson (with miner’s safety lamp) and Frank Benson retrace their walk to work in August 2009.
Frank Benson started as an errand boy at the pit, age 14, in 1943. He’s pictured here at the door to the Time Office a few years later. On the left is the window where the miners and surface workers collected their weekly wage packets.
A wage slip from 1947.