Shevington Moor to Apply [Appley] Moor - distance 1340 yards

LRO ref DDX 194/52

This is a short stretch of road measured from Shevington Moor to Appley Moor gate, passing the entrance to Wrightington Hall. The survey was carried out using the surveyor’s chain and the readings were recorded in links. (The chain was 22yards long consisting of 100 links each 7.92 inches long). This unit of measure was used because the road was only part of the area being surveyed which included the hall entrance, the home farm and other information where accuracy to fine limits was required.

The starting place was on Shevington moor with a note saying “to ye coal pits” in a southerly direction. In AD 78 the Roman XX legion camped at a Brigantes Hill settlement and it is very possible that several of the coal seams which outcropped in the vicinity were worked as the Romans certainly appreciated the uses of coal.

References to ‘Se-cole’ and ‘Firestone’ are found in the records of the Wigan area from the middle of the 14th century. The earliest deeds in which coal mining rights are given is dated 1350. On the Haigh Estate the Bradshaws mined coal on an extensive scale from the 14th century. Leland passed through Wigan in 1538 and recorded the working of “muche canel like 'se-cole' at Haigh”

Round about 1600 at least 12 coal pits were working within a five-mile radius of Wigan centre, producing coal and cannel. Cannel takes its name from candle as it shines with a bright light when burned in the hearth in addition to a peat base. In many west Lancashire inventories the word cannel appears, the fame of which made Wigan the leading mining district of the area. During the seventeenth century a prosperous export trade was developed of the cannel and coal from Wigan to America.

Initially crop coals were worked in drift at the point of outcrop and then by excavation of small pits up to 25 feet deep. Towards the latter part of the 16th century the pits, known as “bell pits”, were being sunk up to a depth of 70-100 feet. Shafts cost £50-£100. Horse gins were used for winding.

Standish Collieries had worked the Shevington pits from early times until Robin Hill Drift Mine closed in 1963. Robert Standish was working pits south of Standish Moor in 1653. His grandson William Standish leased coal just over the township boundary in Shevington to Thomas Hesketh of Rufford in March 1685. He also leased coal under three acres between Back Lane and Shevington Lane to Hesketh. Previously, on 10th October 1679 before the death of his father, Edward Standish sold the top seams of coal (probably the only ones they had proved) under the John Fields and on the east side of Back Lane Shevington to Hugh Dicconson of Wrightington Hall. The price paid was £10. The seams were the King Coal, Cannel and Ravine. The area was immediately south of Park plantation and south-east of Wood’s Farmhouse. Dicconson was allowed the use of Standish’s sough or water gate i.e. drainage tunnel but he was restricted in the amount of coal he could produce. During the first seven years he was allowed one getter and during the second seven years he could employ one getter for six months of each year and two during the second six months.

Residents of Appley Bridge currently find a coal seam outcropping in their gardens but the name of the seam is not known to them.

As a point of interest the author, during WWII, was selected by ballot and was directed, without option, to carry out his National Service in a coal mine. This was under the Bevin Scheme and such recruits were known as Bevin Boys. He worked at Woolley Colliery, Barnsley at the coalface in the 9-north Thorncliffe seam. This seam was three feet thick gradually reducing to two feet over three years working. In this seam was a thin band of cannel coal. Its only known property amongst the colliers at that time was that it could be shaped with a penknife. The author did cut and shape and gave his efforts to his girl friend. She, now his wife, still has them along with a miner’s lamp and helmet presented to him by the manager on demobilisation.

After 211 yards from the starting point on Shevington Moor, at the moor gate is the name Great Shakay, possibly a field name, at which place the line of the route changed through 154 degrees 40 minutes. At the lane junction, to the right 81 yards further along, the line of the road changed again through 145 degrees 55 minutes. The line of the lane changed again seven more times as it meandered towards Appley Moor gate. The home farm, occupied by Wm. Almond, was situated 650 yards to the east of the hall and had a footway leading to it. At 799 yards the way opened out followed by hall outbuildings, a kiln and entry to the hall gate at 942 yards from the starting point. From here the lane was enclosed and crossed another stream at 310 yards finally reaching the moor gate and part of Appley Moor at 398 yards. At this place the way opened into a fairly large area with a lane off to the left to Appley called Close Lane. Another lane led off to the right. This location is known today as Dangerous Corner and the road to Shevington Moor gate is now straight for most of its length. The stream, which crossed the road half way between the hall and Shevington Moor gate, now feeds a very large lake.

The information shown on the site survey sheets is difficult to read and the drawing on Route Nos 24/1 and 24/2 has been prepared to scale from the original data.

The data relating to the hall and gardens is shown in more detail on a separate sheet designated Route No 25/1 and 25/2.