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Garforth's Private Branch

aka Alma Street Private Branch

Garforth's Private Branch
Lower Peak Forest Canal

Tithe Map: 1850, Ref: EDT 143/2
Courtesy: Cheshire Archives & Local Studies

Garforth’s Private Branch took its name from Messrs W J & J Garforth, whose premises were situated alongside this branch in Dukinfield. The partnership consisted of three brothers, William Garforth (1799/1800-1874), John Garforth (1803/04-1850) and James Garforth (1805/06-1876), who were all born in Yorkshire. At some point the Garforth family moved to Dukinfield to establish their business, initially as John Garforth & Sons. They operated as engineers, ironfounders and cotton spinners. On the 21 Aug 1850, John Garforth resigned from the business and died shortly afterwards.

The 1851 census records that William and James were both living on Wharf St, Dukinfield. It also informs that the business was organised in two parts, employing 80 mechanics and iron founders in an engineering works and 60 men, 83 women, 20 boys and 40 girls in a cotton spinning mill.

In 1856 this company ventured into coal mining when it commenced sinking shafts at Lord’s Fields, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Benjamin Miller was appointed as the superintendent of works. This opened on the 27 Jan 1858 as the Lords Field Company, later becoming the Lords Field Colliery Company. The 1861 census records that Benjamin Miller (1805/06-1875) was born in Yorkshire and that he was living in Turner St, Ashton-under-Lyne, which is close to the colliery on the opposite side of the railway line. He recorded his occupation as a colliery underlooker. Lords Field Colliery was located near the modern placename of Cranbrook Gardens off the east side of Oldham Rd.

The opening of the colliery was reported in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 30 Jan 1858.

*Notwithstanding this newspaper report there is evidence that Lords Field Colliery was already open. A coal mine accident record, dated 24 May 1855, states that a William Wilde was then the proprietor of Lords Field Colliery. It is, therefore, likely that this newspaper report records the sinking of new shafts to a greater depth in order to increase productivity and the change of ownership from William Wilde to the Garforth brothers. In 1871 William Wilde (1798/99-16 Jan 1880), a proprietor of land and houses, was resident at Yew Tree House, Yew Tree Ln, off Cheetham Hill Rd, Dukinfield.

The underground spring water mentioned in the newspaper report finally proved to be an insoluble problem to control as the workings were subjected to constant flooding and consequently Lords Field Colliery closed in 1875.

Known fatalities at Lords Field Colliery, 1860-72

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