Manuscripts and Special Collections


The information below relates to our holdings of what is one of the major areas of East Midlands' industrial heritage: mining.

There are extensive coal fields around the East Midlands, with most of the coal mines concentrated in the north of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Mining, in particular coal mining, is well-represented in both the manuscripts and special collections, and our records relating to the collapse of the mining industry in the region have a wider significance in understanding the decline of the mining industry nationally.


Our records span several centuries, with the earliest surviving lease of a coal mine dated 1316 and concerning a mine in Cossall owned by the Willoughby family (Mi D 343). This is one of many documents relating to small mines situated on landed estates, which are an important resource for local, economic and social history. Unfortunately the rapid decline of the industry and widespread destruction of mining records that took place nationally in the 1980s means we lack historical records relating to operations, particularly in the 20th century. The University has a number of research collections relating to mining, about which more information can be found in the related records section.

Coal mining records

  • Shaft sinking records relating to Wollaton Colliery and Radford Colliery, Nottinghamshire, 1873-1905 (catalogue record)
  • Records of the Manvers Main Collieries Limited of Barnborough and Wath-Upon-Dearne, Yorkshire, 1937-1955 (catalogue record)
  • Record of coal sold by Bretby Colliery, 1859-1900 (catalogue record)
  • Material relating to the Mining Industry, including some rare ephemera relating to miners' health and welfare; 1902-1993 (catalogue record)
  • Records of the Miners' Welfare Commission; 1921-1950s (catalogue record)
  • Records of the British Association of Colliery Management; 1940s-2014 (catalogue record)

Coal, colliery and mining records within the Family and Estates Collections

The Family and Estates Collections are some of the most extensive collections. Estates employed large numbers of people, and supported themselves by exploiting the natural resources of the land. Not every estate had coal that was accessible or in the quantities to make extracting it worthwhile, but below are listed some of the major estates in the region with substantial documents relating to coal mining.

Middleton of Wollaton Hall

The papers of the Willoughby family, Barons Middleton, contain many references to the family's mining interests, including property records, accounts and other papers relating to coal mining from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Papers relating to Lord Middleton's Coal and Mineral Interests in Nottinghamshire including the Cossall Colliery Company, the Wollaton Colliery Company, and the Stapleford Colliery Company, date from the 19th and 20th centuries.  

Wollaton Colliery has been mined since at least the seventeenth century, although it was not a mine as such, but a cluster of bell pits, a system of small shafts sunk to reach coal lying very near the surface. The bulk of the papers concerning the Wollaton Colliery Company that survive date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and generally include half-yearly accounts of coal worked and leases of land and mining rights, some early 20th century legal papers over objections to mining leases including instructions to counsel. There is a collection of coal leases and associated papers relating to the Wollaton Estate from1861-1943, many of which refer to Wollaton Colliery. A handful relate to Babbington Colliery, about which very little survives except some documents regarding the company boundaries from 1910-1913.

  • Papers relating to Lord Middleton's Coal and Mineral Interests in Nottinghamshire, 1856-1942 (catalogue record)
  • Papers concerning the Wollaton Colliery Company, including accounts and leases, 1856-1942 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to coal mining, 1900, 1911, 1925, 1944 (catalogue record)
  • Coal Leases and associated papers relating to the Wollaton Estate, 1861-1943 (catalogue record

There are very few papers relating to Stapleford Colliery Company, except for a small bundle of legal papers from the 1870s and a series of correspondence, plans and other papers dating from 1871-1891. Trowell Moor Colliery, belonging to Messrs. Dunn, was the direct descendant of the earlier Stapleford Colliery Company. The companies leased the bulk of their coal mining land from the Lords Middleton. There are a few documents relating to it including reports into the minerals and leases of mining rights, correspondence and half yearly accounts  covering 1880-1939. Many are listed in the catalogue as papers relating to the Cossall Colliery Company, as in 1901 both Trowell Moor and Stapleford Colliery Companies were merged to form the Cossall Colliery Company. Further papers relating to this company are found amongst the general papers relating to the South Nottinghamshire Estates, and include legal documents of the sale and lease of land and mineral rights, correspondence and minute books.

  • Papers relating to the Stapleford Colliery Company, 1873-1876 (catalogue record)
  • Miscellaneous correspondence, papers and plans relating to the Stapleford Colliery Company, 1871-1891 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to the Cossall Colliery Company, 1866-1939 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to the South Nottinghamshire Estates including Cossall, Radford, Lenton and Trowell, 1787-1946 (catalogue record)
  • Cossall Colliery Company, Members Minute Books, 1880-1900 (catalogue record)

Other records relating to mining are scattered through many different parts of the catalogue, especially in Mi 3 and Mi 4, as many of them are catalogued by geographical location rather than by subject.  There are no records relating to the employees.

Galway of Serlby Hall

The Monckton-Arundell family, Viscounts Galway, were involved with coal mining in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Their principal interests were the Hodroyd and Monckton Main Collieries near Barnsley. The records include leases and property deeds; correspondence; coal company board meetings and reports; and as with the Middleton collections, references to mining are scattered throughout. They are not divided by record type or subject, and as parts of the collection are still undergoing more detailed cataloguing and the links below are only to significant runs of the material and not a comprehensive list.

  • Two box files of estate papers of George Edmund Milnes Monckton-Arundell, 7th Viscount Galway, relating to Harworth Colliery, 1910 - 1917. Although catalogued separately, there is a great deal of overlap in date and subject. The majority of the records are correspondence between George Edmund Milnes Monckton-Arundell, 7th Viscount Galway and various surveyors, engineers and solicitors. They are predominantly regarding the lease and sale of land and mineral rights at Harworth Colliery, and the Trading with the Enemy Act during World War One (catalogue record and catalogue record)
  • Papers, predominantly letters, mainly concerning colliery financial and other affairs belonging to George Edmund Milnes Monckton-Arundell, 7th Viscount Galway, 1878-1930 (catalogue record) and his son George Vere Arundell Monckton-Arundell, 8th Viscount Galway, 1928-1931 (catalogue record)
  • General papers relating to the coal industry including reports and publications, on topics such as nationalisation, 1897-1930 (catalogue record)
  • File box labelled "West Riding and East Riding Coal" that mostly contains correspondence and notes, 1901 - 1918 (catalogue record)
  • Papers concerning coal mining in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and including correspondence and accounts, 1868-1943 (catalogue entry)

Manvers of Thoresby and Holme Pierrepont

The estate papers of the Pierrepont family, Earls Manvers, illustrate their exploitation of coal and other minerals under their lands around Beighton, Heath and Calow in Derbyshire, and Adwick upon Dearne in Yorkshire. There is an early series of Derbyshire colliery accounts, predominantly cash books and coals sold, but also some pit vouchers and a few wages books for 1809. There are numerous leases, sales and other legal papers relating to coal seams and mineral rights, with small number relating to the setting up and liquidation or sale of companies and collieries. The publications and reports relating to the collieries and the wider mining industry, for example from the Mineral Owners' Association, generally date from the first half of the twentieth century. There are also documents relating to the modernization of the collieries such as constructing railway lines and electricity supply. There is a small bundle of documents relating to Manvers Main Colliery's registration of coal during World War Two

As parts of the collection have not yet been catalogued in detail, there are some mining records within miscellaneous bundles.

  • Papers relating to the Bolsover Colliery Company, 1888-1926 (catalogue record
  • Papers relating to the Claycross and Grassmoor Company, 1926-1938 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to the Digby Colliery Company and sale of lands and minerals in Gedling County, Nottinghamshire, and earlier railway sales affecting the sale, 1904-1933 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to the Manvers Main Colliery Company, 1805-1945 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to leases of Owlcotes Colliery, the Hardwick Colliery Company, 1889-1928 (catalogue record )
  • Papers relating to joint lease of minerals to New Hucknall Colliery Company, 1907-1942 (catalogue record)
  • Correspondence relating to Earl Manvers' collieries, 1913 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to the Sheffield Coal Company, 1894-1944 (catalogue record)
  • Accounts Relating to Owlcotes, Birley and High Lane Collieries, Derbyshire, 1786-1825 (catalogue record)

Drury-Lowe of Locko Park, Spondon

There are references throughout the collection to the family's coal mining interests, generally correspondence, reports and accounts, with a handful of maps and plans. They date from the late-eighteenth to the early-twentieth centuries, and include papers relating to the Denby Colliery Company and the Salterwood Colliery.

  • Correspondence regarding estate matters, particularly coal mining, 1815-1923 (catalogue record)
  • Six bundles of papers relating to collieries at Denby, Marehay, Kilburn, Mapperley and Hallam, including accounts and correspondence, 1835-1889 (catalogue record)
  • Miscellaneous papers concerning the Denby Colliery and the Denby Iron Company, 1863-1946 (catalogue record)
  • Papers relating to general estate matters including farms and collieries, 1876-1888 (catalogue record)
  • Accounts relating to Denby Colliery, Derbyshire, 1884-1906 (catalogue record)

Next page: Utilities


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651