Shipley Park - Miller-Mundy Memories
w/e 07 January 2007
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Miller-Mundy Memories Title Panel

Part 1 - Introduction & The Four Mines

For a couple of weeks during September 2006, the Borough Councils of Erewash and Amber Valley jointly hosted a Walking Festival under the title of "Autumn Footprints". The event included a number of daily walks across the two administrative areas and was launched on Saturday 9th September at the Visitor Centre in Shipley Country Park. The opening ceremony attended by Two Mayorsboth the respective Mayors (see left) was followed by a three mile circular walk through the park entitled "Miller-Mundy Memories". This was advertised as a gentle walk with information on the heritage of the Country Park, looking at the influence of the Miller-Mundy family on the landscape to be seen today and it was scheduled to last two hours.

The optimum number for the walk was twenty five but such was the interest that more than forty people from those that attended the opening decided to partake in the walk too. Whilst this was not a problem in itself, it did mean that it took a little longer to assemble the party at the various stops along the route where the leader, Gary Wain of Groundwork Erewash Valley provided some little gems of information not readily available elsewhere. It also meant that he was not able to divulge all of the knowledge he had at his disposal but he was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his notes at the conclusion of the walk. I resolved then to retrace the steps of the walk using Gary's notes as a basis for this series.

Whilst it would be quite easy to walk the entire route in the stipulated two hours I Shipley Parkintend to take a more leisurely approach and visit the park at monthly intervals to compile this series. Many of the images yet to be captured at the beginning of 2007 will be of views familiar to anyone conversant with the area like the one shown here on the right but there will be some shots of details that could be and, if my experience is anything to go by, have been overlooked without some knowledgeable person to point them out. That is why I am indebted to Gary Wain for his research into the history of the Miller-Mundy family and the impact it had on the area.

Visitor Centre

The walk starts and finishes at the Visitor Centre but before we set off, we should consider some of the things that will become apparent as we move around the park. The Miller-Mundy family owned the Shipley Estate for over two hundred years from 1712 until 1922 and during our walk we shall see evidence of railways, canals, collieries, estate buildings as well as the site of their former residence at Shipley Hall. It is also worthwhile at this point to consider the Shipley estate's history prior to Miller-Mundy times.
Information Board

The Information Board which marked the assembly point for the walk at the corner of the car park contains a potted history and shows a number of photographs from more recent times. Gary's notes add to the information on the board which says that the Shipley Estate is an ancient manor mentioned in Information Board PhotosInformation Board Photosthe Domesday Book. It was given to Gilbert of Ghent by his uncle William the Conqueror as a reward for his loyalty as a Knight. Prior to that it had been in the ownership of the Danish Lord Ulf Fensic. Ownership passed from Gilbert to his steward, Robert de Muskham and again in 1215 to Robert le Vavosour again in return for service as a Knight. In 1280 the estate passed by marriage to the Strelley family of Nottingham who held it for over three hundred and twenty years until 1608. The name of Strelley is perpetuated today in the Nottinghamshire village a few miles away. It was during their occupancy in the mid 1500s that coal mining in the shape of shallow drift mines and bell pits began to play an increasingly important part in shaping the landscape at Shipley and providing an income for the owners. By 1722 the mining operations were being run by coalmasters but after 1765 the Miller-Mundy family took over running the mines themselves. The Miller-Mundys owned four mines and by the early 1900s over 100,000 tonnes of coal were being extracted each year.
Map of Colliery Sites

This map on another information board is about horse riding in the park but serves to show the location of the four mines, the sites of which are pictured below. Before we start the walk proper we'll take a closer look at the sites of the four mines as they appear today.
Coppice Colliery Site

Winding WheelThe mining rights were sold by the Miller-Mundys in 1920 to the Shipley Colliery Company who mined until 1947 when the industry was nationalised and taken over by the National Coal Board (NCB). The NCB continued operations until the 1960s but two hundred and fifty years of deep mining came to an end in 1966 with the closure of the last of the four mines when Coppice Colliery closed as it had become uneconomic. In November of 1970, the NCB began opencast mining which continued until 1974. For another two years, work continued to contour the area and restore it by seeding fields and meadows, planting trees and constructing facilities for the public. Phase 1 of the park was opened on May 26th 1976 and the visitor centre for Shipley Country Park was built on the site of Coppice Colliery in 1984. The site is now commemorated on the car park by this structure made from part of a winding wheel .
Woodside Colliery Site

Woodside Colliery HeadstocksWoodside Colliery was also closed as being uneconomic but this was in 1961, five years before Coppice's demise. Some old colliery buildings still stand adjacent to the American Adventure Theme Park at the Woodside Colliery site which is now marked by a lasting memorial in the form of replica headstocks, one third the height of the originals but topped by the original winding wheels. As I was preparing this page this week, it was announced following a "period of difficult trading" that the Theme Park is to close. Their website boasts "Where The Fun Never Stops" - it has now!
Newcastle Colliery Site

Newcastle Colliery SiteBetween the Coppice and Woodside sites is probably the least well-known of the four sites - that of the Newcastle Colliery. Standing to the north of and just off the Nutbrook Trail, backing on to the housing estate at Marlpool, there is no lasting memorial to betray the existence of the colliery save for the name of Newcastle Plantation and a nearby pumping station. It is difficult today to pinpoint the exact location of this colliery but I suspect that the number of bricks and rubble in this footpath through the coppice points to the positions of some of the now demolished old colliery buildings.

 Mapperley Colliery Site

Mapperley Colliery SiteLikewise at Mapperley Colliery, all evidence of the mining industry has disappeared and sadly not even a marker exists as a memorial to the hundreds of men who worked here and traipsed this road on their way to work. All the buildings were demolished, the shafts were capped, the area opencast and then restored with new field boundaries. Trees were planted and it is to the distress of many that the history and heritage here has been ignored by those in positions of power and authority.

Mapperley Colliery SiteLike other local people who had relatives who worked in the coal industry, many members of my own and my wife's families were miners and it is to them that I am dedicating this series. In the next part, we'll return to the car park at the visitor centre and start the walk to record for posterity some of those "Miller-Mundy Memories" before the remaining evidence disappears altogether. But before leaving the Mapperley Colliery site in the stillness of a January afternoon it only takes a little imagination to hear the ghostly footsteps of miners tramping along this road on their way to work.

Forward to Part 2 - To Harmer's Bridge
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