Coal mining

(c) Wigan Archives Service

Lightshaw Meadows has been shaped by the area’s industrial heritage, which has created a fantastically unique area for nature. Land that has subsided in the places where shallow coal mining once took place is regularly flooded by the river, creating this special wetland habitat.

Coal mining was a significant industry around Lightshaw Meadows. It played an important part in improving transport in the area and in bringing the industrial revolution to Wigan and Leigh. Lightshaw Meadows and the surrounding area would have been a hive of industrial activity during the 18th and 19th centuries, with many coal mines, known as collieries, and textile factories attracted by the cheap supply of local coal.

The industrialisation brought with it a high price. The coal mines were dirty and dangerous places and many miners died due to explosions, roofs collapsing or gas seepages. Women and children carrying out hard work in the mines also caused concern and miners’ strikes protesting about the conditions were common.  

When I was young I was told to learn how to do my sums, otherwise I’d be down the pit, and that was a fate worse than death.” Eric