Monday, 13 July 2009

That sinking feeling!

No, not the boat so don’t panic. The whole area we are now in is a labyrinth of old coal mines that are all slowly collapsing and causing land subsidence. We are merely the canal’s width away from a dis-used coal mine which is completely fenced off with danger warning signs all around the perimeter.All that remains on the site are 2 x 10 foot high pipes that are presumably venting gas out of the mine.

Yesterday we walked into what appears to be all that is left of a village next to the old mine but in actual fact it’s the outskirts of Leigh. There has been so much evidence of demolition done here, some as recently as a couple of months ago. A recent photo that appeared in the May edition of Waterways World of Plank Lane Swing Bridge shows a very large Tudor style building close to the bridge, well I’m sorry to say that the building no longer exists as it was the latest casualty demolished due to subsidence and site redevelopment.

We got chatting to a local resident about the area and he told us that there used to be 4 mines close by and because some of them were working the same coal seam from different locations they eventually met, so some of the workings extend for miles. He also recalled how the Pennington Flash had grown since his boyhood days and that during the Miners strike of 1984/5 how he and many others used to fish for Pike and Perch to feed mining families during the strike. At one point the Flash froze over for several months and they had to smash holes in the ice like the Eskimo’s to be able to fish. He reckoned that the Flash was well fished out by the time the strike ended.

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