See inside this abandoned colliery on the Sheffield/Derbyshire border which has a very dark history

A photographer has explored Plumbley Colliery which has been left to wrack and ruin since 1914 and was also the tragic site where several children drowned as did the rescuer who jumped in to save them back in 1895.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 11:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:35 am
The abandoned Plumbley Colliery in Eckington Woods
The abandoned Plumbley Colliery in Eckington Woods

James Hindle, from James Hindle Photography, went on a lockdown walk with his 18-year-old-son, also named James, and wanted to document Plumbley Colliery.

The 40-year-old from Hemsworth Sheffield said: “It was a bit eerie being at the abandoned colliery especially when you think of the sad story and the lives which were lost there.

“I’m surprised how many people don’t know about the tragic events at Pumbley and I think going out and taking pictures and reminding people of what happened means those children and their rescuer will never be forgotten.”

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The Colliery was shut down in 1914

In March 1895 heroic Alfred Williamson, despite being unable to swim, rushed into the coalmine’s frozen pond after hearing the nearby screams of the three children who dropped below the ice.

The 24-year-old engineman used his belt and a rope to attach himself to a nearby tree but died after the rope came loose.

Williamson was honoured with a hero’s burial at Eckington Cemremony , though the children, Esther Ann Riley, 11, Percey Riley, 9, and Rebecca Godson, 9, were buried in unmarked graves next to him.

This was rectified on the 125th anniversary of the disaster, last year when a campaign was started to raise money for headstones for the forgotten children.

The seldom seen Engine House which is registered as a Scheduled Ancient Monument

More than £1,000 was raised by the community and a local stone mason gave his time for free only charging for materials to ensure the three children would be remembered forever.

Plumbley was formerly in Eckington parish of Derbyshire but boundary changes in 1967 moved it, along with Mosborough into the latter ward within Sheffield's borders, to allocate more housing land to the city.

In the late 19th century there were two collieries in the hamlet, Westwell and Plumbley, the latter having its own railway branch line (Penny Engine railway) and a notable engine house which is registered as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Plumbley was sunk around 1875 and was disused by 1914.

The building is still in good condition

James said: “Despite not being used for years and years the building was in good condition, the roof looked new. I think there may have been a restoration project which started with the roof but then got forgotten.

"I enjoy getting out with my son and taking the pictures. Its capturing a moment in time before the building gets more damaged or is lost forever."

James like to explore the local forgotten history and says he gets messages from people who may be elderly or unable to explore themselves to go and see things for them.

"I love sharing my pictures because it might bring back memories for people or allow people to explore something new they didn’t know was on their door step.”

Inside the engine house

Due to the lockdown James would like to return to the woods to find the hidden WW2 bunker and when travel restrictions allow go further afield and find the underground hospital.

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A sad history at the colliery where four people drowned in 1895
The ruined walls of Plumbley Colliery at Eckington Woods