My bit of Yorkshire used to contain many coal mines. Combs Pit in Thornhill (where 139 men and boys were killed in an explosion in 1893 – only seven got out alive), Whitley, Shaw Cross, Chidswell, Chickenley Heath, Caphouse, Shuttle Eye at Grange Moor – these are only a few, there were many, many more. This site details all the pits which used to exist in Ossett alone, for example. There are now none, and many people have no idea of the huge role which mining played in their ancestors’ lives.

The Pin the Pits campaign has been launched asking Ordnance Survey to include mine caps and shaft markers on all new maps. I think this is an excellent idea. I love maps anyway; I like to look at the contours and the markers of ancient activity, and putting the pits on there would really bring home how big a part they used to play in town’s lives.

Here are some pictures I took the other day on the former Shaw Cross pit site.

Standing on top of the reclaimed slag heap, looking across the Calder valley towards Thornhill and Middlestown. You get a great view from up here, and could, at a push, pick out where Combs Pit used to be and the chimney and pit head equipment at Caphouse, which is now the National Mining Museum, but my little camera couldn’t cope with the contrast and detail. I shall have to drag m’husband out there with his much more sophisticated equipment. Old stories have it that the shafts from Shaw Cross met the shafts from Combs, underneath the river Calder.

Crappy slag heap soil. Takes years and years to get decent grass growing on these things. There are some tiny old slag heaps in the bottom of the valley near m’parents’ house, which must be a couple of hundred years old, and the grass is better than on this pic but still not that good. Trees seem to grow quite well on them though.

Bits of an old wall along one edge. There are roads on two sides of the site, the Dewsbury Rams stadium and pitch on the third and housing on the fourth. I’m assuming this little wall was the original site boundary.

A lonely gateway leading nowhere. Walk through it now and you’ll plunge into a ditch. The right hand gatepost is lurking in the bush.