Roachburn Colliery


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Roachburn Colliery
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Carlisle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 61646 59798

Reasons for Designation

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000 coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap. Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops, pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites. Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual component features are considered to merit protection.

Roachburn Colliery was the first electrically operated coal mine in Cumbria and survives reasonably well. Despite some later modifications the electricity generating house still survives to its full height. Additionally, the pumping house accommodated a rare Bull steam-powered beam engine, and although this engine has been removed since closure of the mine, the pumping house largely remains largely in its original condition and contains many internal features which provide a range of technological information.


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Cumbria's first electrically-powered coal mine, the late 19th/early 20th century Roachburn Colliery. It includes the upstanding but roofless electricity generating house and pumping house, the wall surrounding three sides of the now sealed drawing shaft, the ventilation fan compartment, and the foundations and buried remains of a headgear pillar support. A second generating house also survives but has been converted into a house. As it is occupied it is not included in the scheduling. The roofless electricity generating house stands at the northern end of the monument and is a flat-roofed two storey stone and brick construction. It measures approximately 13m by 7m and stands to its full height. There are windows on the west side of the building, an entrance on the east side, and a window which has latterly been enlarged into an entrance on the south side. On the eastern side of the building, close to the entrance, a concrete-lined ventilation fan compartment has been sunk into the ground. The pumping house, a short distance to the south east, accommodated a rare Bull steam-powered beam engine for pumping water from the mine. This building is stone-built and stands to its full two storey height. It measures approximately 6m by 4m and surviving roof timbers indicate that is was covered with a pitched roof. On the upper floor the west side of the building is open but external hinges indicate that wooden shutters originally covered the aperture. There is a window in both the north and south walls and a fireplace on the east wall with a brick chimney protruding above the roof line. The drawing shaft, up which the coal was hauled, lies a short distance south of the pumping house. The shaft is surrounded on three sides by a stone wall up to 2m high and was infilled and sealed during the 1970s. In the driveway fronting the infilled shaft there are the brick and concrete foundations of a headgear support pillar. Roachburn Colliery opened in 1895. In 1908 the mineworkings breached the base of a tarn causing the deaths of three miners and the subsequent abandonment of the mine four years later. The surfaces of all access driveways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Coal Industry Step 3 site report, Cranstone, D, Roachburn Colliery, (1996)
SMR No. 10501, Cumbria SMR, Denton Fell subsistence feature, (1986)
To Robinson,K.D. (MPPA), Mr R Park (part-owner), Roachburn Colliery, (1997)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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