Manchester Collieries Ltd.

Manchester Collieries Ltd.

Manchester Collieries was a coal mining company formed in 1929 and headquartered at Walkden, Greater Manchester.

The business was formed by the merger of a group of independent companies operating on the Manchester Coalfield. The Mining Industry Act of 1926 attempted to stem the post-war decline in coal mining and encourage independent companies to merge and better survive the conditions of the day. Robert Burrows of Fletcher, Burrows & Co. in Atherton, proposed a merger of several independent operations to the west of Manchester. The merger was agreed and took place in March 1929.

The constituent companies of Manchester Collieries in 1929 were Fletcher, Burrows & Co., Andrew Knowles & Sons, The Clifton and Kersley Coal Co., John Speakman & Sons, Bridgewater Collieries and The Astley & Tyldesley Collieries Co.

There was a total of 22 pits employing 19,300 workers.

Up to 1929 most coal was cut by hewers, men using picks and shovels, but Manchester Collieries began a programme of mechanisation, increasing its production of machine-cut coal from 17% to 98% in 16 years. The movement of coal underground was also mechanised, and pit ponies were no longer used for underground haulage after 1932.

Mining was a dangerous industry but Manchester Collieries aimed to make the job as safe as possible, and training was a major priority. The company was considered to be a generous employer, workers at its pits were on average 1s 6d per shift better off than miners working for other coal mining companies.

At the time of nationalisation in 1947 Manchester Collieries employed almost 15,000 workers on the Lancashire Coalfield. Some of the surface workers were women, known as pit brow lasses, who sorted coal on the screens at the pit head. As coal reserves were exhausted, the older collieries closed.