Holly Bank and Hilton Main Colliery Railway :: Shared Description
The Holly Bank Colliery Company Limited was formed in 1891 taking over from the Essington Wood Colliery situated behind the Mitre Inn on Bursnips Road in Essington. A new shaft was sunk near Featherstone in 1920 to access reserves that were remote from the existing access. As further shafts were sunk Hilton Main took over production from Holly Bank and underground work at the mine ceased in the recession following the 'General Strike' in 1927.
Hilton Main Colliery commenced production in 1924 with output of around 350000 tons. The pit remained in production until 1968 when local faulting of the 'Eight Foot' seam made extraction of the coal using modern mechanised face production uneconomic. Estimated reserves at the time were some 74 million tons.
Output from the Essington Wood Colliery had been taken by tramway to the Wyrley and Essington Canal or Lord Hay's Branch of the canal. Being near the summit level the canal suffered from lack of water.
In 1875 an alternative rail connection was built to the recently opened Walsall to Cannock Branch of the London & North West Railway.
The use of canals was not abandoned completely and in 1906 a rail line was built to connect the Holly Bank site with a new wharf on the Wyrley & Essington Canal at Short Heath eliminating the need to navigate the locks.
The final railway line to be built linked the new Hilton Main colliery with the sidings at Holly Bank. The line extends in a loop following the contours.
The railway lines survived construction of the M6 in the late 1960s and closed in 1969 when the track was taken up. Some sections are walkable or are public footpaths. Notable features are Holly Bank Signal Box and the canal wharf at Short Heath.
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Created: Sun, 20 Mar 2011, Updated: Sun, 20 Mar 2011
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