Plumbley Colliery including Seldom Seen engine house, 600m north east of Roundhill Cottages


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


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North East Derbyshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 42085 79944

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.

Plumbley Colliery survives well and its remains provide evidence for the layout and operation of a late 19th century coal mine. It retains an exceptional range of components, including the engine houses, fan house and the earthworks of coking ovens. The standing and earthwork remains of the principal mine structures are important in their own right. The Guibal fan house and conical spoil tip, in particular, represent rare survivals nationally.


Plumbley Colliery, which includes the Seldom Seen engine house, lies in woodland 1km north west of Eckington. The monument includes the ruined buildings, earthworks and buried remains of Plumbley Colliery, including the engine house, fan house, coke ovens and conical tips. Plumbley Colliery was operating by 1875. The colliery complex had reached its full extent by 1897 and was disused by 1914, although small-scale independent mining may have continued for a little while thereafter. The Seldom Seen engine house, in the northern part of the site, stands to a height of 12m-15m. It is built on rising ground, overlooking the small valley of the Moss Brook to the north. The brick-built engine house is unusually large, with walls pierced by round arched and square openings. Some roof and floor timbers survive and timbers, one moulded and one bearing a pulley, protrude from the south wall. Within, thick bearing walls for an indoor beam engine survive. The engine is thought to have been used for both winding and pumping in the shaft, and its boiler was located in a brick chamber built against the west wall of the engine house, the ruined walls of which survive. To the east of the engine house are a number of earthworks believed to represent coke ovens, which will contribute towards understanding the layout of the site. Immediately north of the engine house is a range of spoil heaps, at least two of which are characteristically conical in form. A brick-built adit or mine entrance, partially visible beneath later deposits, is cut into the slope, south of the engine house where the land rises. West of this are the ruined remains of a Guibal fan house with parts of the stone-built opening for the steam-powered fan still visible. Guibal fans were commonly used in the later 19th century to ventilate coal mines. South of the fan house and adit, at the top of the slope, a broad footpath follows the east-west line of a former railway which served the colliery, and remains of the railway are expected to survive beneath it. To the south of the path, further earthworks and ruins remain visible in woodland including the remains of a second engine house with intact engine bed, large well-preserved earthworks representing reservoirs shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1897 and also the remains of several shafts, some large and collapsed. The surfaces of the tracks and footpaths and all fence posts 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.


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

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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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