Draycott Cross Colliery, Derbyshire
Pulling up alongside a country lane and looking out across the fields in front of us, it was hard to believe there was any underground structure in the area at all. A line of trees then revealed the Southern portal for the rail tunnel, ultimately leading to Draycott Cross colliery.
Making our way down to the overgrown tunnel portal, it became apparent that some climbing was going to have to be done. Something I’m not overly confident with! The tunnel had been completely bricked up apart from a hole about 15-20ft up, with an inevitable drop of the same height inside.
It didn’t take long to get inside and walking along the tunnel it was obvious that coal had been mined here. The brickwork was black and the torchlight from all three of us was being sucked up by the darkness.
A Brief History of Draycott Cross
Construction began in 1898 on Draycott tunnel and it opened in January 1909. During its use the tunnel was prone to collapsing and attempts were made to strengthen the tunnel using steel hoops . The section of line between the north portal of the tunnel and Cheadle was retained to serve the Colliery. The tunnel finally closed in 1922.
Around 1983 Puddleduck Colliery commenced work from adits just inside the southern portal of the old railway tunnel. A new narrow-gauge line was laid in the tunnel with mine carts hauled by cable. Draycott Cross Colliery closed in 1991 and the land was sold and the adits sealed.
Exploring Draycott Cross Colliery
We walked as far as we could along the tunnel and then decided to take an adit on the eastern side of the tunnel. Having never been in a coal mine before, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was like an old western! Corrugated iron lines the walls and ceiling, a narrow-gauge rail (complete with cart) and a steep slope, heading directly in to a flooded chamber reminiscent of something out of Indiana Jones!
Draycott Cross Colliery was a fascinating place to explore, even if all my photos were junk and too dark!