Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Temporary Ghost Town (NZ397410)

Shotton Colliery was a nineteenth century ‘new town’, built a mile or so to the north-west of old Shotton village.  The pit was sunk and began operations in the early 1840s, struggled on for a few decades – never being very profitable (if at all) – before closing in the mid 1870s.

The 1881 census returns for the colliery town indicate that a huge number of houses were empty, which has led historians to believe that the place was akin to a ghost town.  When the pit closed, folk had no alternative but to up sticks and move in their search for work – a common enough exercise for your average pitman family.  The houses built during the 1840s and ‘50s were simply left behind as the workforce moved on.  As the 1880s and ‘90s progressed, the population grew even thinner, until only a handful of folk rattled around the empty streets.

However, in 1901 the pit was reopened, the houses re-fitted within weeks (it seems that no vandalism had taken place), and the town burst back into life.  By 1906, over a thousand men and boys were in employment, rising to almost 2,000 by 1913.  The coke ovens and brickworks were reopened, too.  It quite literally boomed.

In the 1950s, however, the decline began to set in again.  Prior to the colliery’s final closure in 1972, most of the old housing had been demolished – and today there is little sign that a pit ever existed there.

Further reading here.  Pictures here.

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