Friends of Middleton Park


Charles John Brandling
1769-1826 ...


    (covering the years 1802 - 1826)

    Brief Life History...

    Events at Middleton

    John Blenkinsop and the Middleton Colliery

    Other Events Related to Middleton


To view a PDF of the Brandling Family Tree Please Click here.


Brief Life History

Picture of Charles John Brandling

Charles John Brandling was born the 4th February 1769, the ninth child and second son of Charles Brandling. He married Frances Elizabeth, the daughter of William Ramsden Beumont-Hawkesworth of Hawkesworth, Yorkshire on the 27th September 1793 at Hovingham, Yorkshire:

Picture of Charles John Brandling

On Friday se'nnight was married at Hovingham, Charles Brandling, Esq. of Middleton, near this town to Miss Frances Hawkesworth, second daughter of the late Walter Fawkes, Esq, of Farnley near Otley. [1]

Like his father before him, Charles John never made Middleton his permanent residence. We will, as before, give a brief account of his life and then concern ourselves only with local events.

Charles John Brandling was educated at Newcomes, Hackney and St Johns, Cambridge; his education was completed about 1793, by spending time on the continent. He married Frances Elizabeth and had no children. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Newcastle-upon-Tyne where he served until 1812, the year in which he retired. A few years later he was elected to Parliament again as the MP for Northumberland (1820-1826).

Charles John was an extensive land and coal-owner with collieries at Gosforth and Felling in the north-east and Middleton in Yorkshire. He was patron of George Stephenson (the railway engineer), who after the disastrous explosion at Charles Felling Colliery in 1812 competed with Sir Humphrey Davy in the invention of a miner's safety lamp. Charles John supported Stephenson's claim to this invention (although Sir Humphrey has always received the credit) and helped to raise a subscription of £1000 which was presented to Stephenson.

He was a leading Tory and recognised leader of conservative thought in southern Northumberland. He founded the Northumberland Pitt Club and became its first president. In 1819 Brandling formed and commanded the Northumberland and Newcastle Cavalry (ridiculed by the local working class as the noodles ) which was dedicated to preserving the middle classes from the riots brought about by the demands for parliamentary reform.

Charles John Brandling died on the 1st February 1826, aged 57 years. His estates passed to his brother, Ralph Henry Brandling.


Events at Middleton

Within a short time of taking up his inheritance at Middleton, Charles John was seeking to defend his colliery from thieves:

Stolen, From Middleton Colliery

A Quantity of BRASS and IRON WORK, belonging to the Engines and Colliery, at Middleton, near Leeds, the Property of CHARLES JOHN BRANDLING, Esq; at sundry Times in the last few Weeks; particularly from the Engine House, at the Old Fields, a large Brass Cock, of the Bore of about Three Inches and a Half Diameter, and weighed with the Solder joined to it, about Two Hundred Weight.

Whoever shall give Information against the Person or Persons who committed the said Robberies, or any of them, or against the Person or Persons who received the said Brass and Iron Work, knowing the same to have been stolen, shall receive a Reward of TWENTY GUINEAS, to be paid by the said Charles John Brandling, Esq; on Conviction of the Offenders, or any of them.

Middleton, Nov. 19th, 1800 [2]

John Charles quickly sought a further amendment from Parliament to the Acts granted to his father. This amendment, which received the Royal Assent on the 24th March 1803, increased the amount of coal to be delivered to Leeds to about 60,000 tons per year at a price of 8d per corf [35p per ton] .

In order to fulfil this increased quota new pits were sunk at Middleton. Despite this increase in demand for coal (and the increase in sales) Middleton colliery's profits and losses fluctuated wildly; in the year 1800 alone, losses of £1883 were recorded.

In 1806 the death of two men, killed in the pits, was reported:

On Wednesday se'nnight, a most lamentable accident happened at the colliery of C.J.Brandling, Esq. at Middleton, near Leeds, occasioned by what is commonly termed fire-damp, or the foul air becoming inflammable, and taking fire, by which no less than seven persons were dreadfully burnt, of which number one died before he could be taken out of te pit; the others were taken to the Infirmary, and it is with concern we state, that two of the unfortunate sufferers died on Thursday; of the other four, hopes are entertained of their recovery. [3]

By 1807, Charles John was considering the idea of selling the Middleton Estates. The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, 21st October 1807 carried the advertisement for the sale of the Manor of Middleton:

LEEDS, YORKSHIRE. To be SOLD by AUCTION, By Messrs. SKINNER, DYKE & Co IN ONE LOT (Due Notice of the Day of Sale will be given)

A CAPITAL and Very Valuable FREEHOLD ESTATE, most advantageously situated in the Parish of Rothwell and Leeds, in the Townships of Middleton, Hunslet and Beeston, nearly contiguous to the capital Town of Leeds, comprising

The extensive Lordship or Manor of MIDDLETON

Two desirable Residences with suitable Offices; Coach-Houses, Stabling, Pleasure Grounds, Walled Gardens and Paddocks, in the Occupation of Thomas Coupland, Esq., and Mr. Joseph Humble; and the contiguous Farms, containing about One Thousand Four Hundred Acres of rich and productive Meadow, Pasture and Arable Lands, fine Woods and Plantations, together with the inexhaustible Coal Works, communicating with, and serving the Populous Town of Leeds, according to an Act of Parliament.

On the Estate are Two Powerful Steam Engines, and Five smaller Raising Engines, with complete Machinery; a Water Corn-Mill, a Brewery, Malting and numerous Warehouses, Stabling, Tenements and Other suitable Buildings.

The whole Property lies nearly within a Ring Fence, and is capable of the greatest Improvement, so as to render it one of the most productive Estates in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Tythe Free, and the Land Tax redemmed.

For further Particulars, apply to Mr. Lewis, No. 5, Gray's Inn Square, London; and to Messrs. Skinner, Dyke & Co. Aldengate Street, London. [4]

In the following year the estate was again put up for sale:


To be SOLD by AUCTION, By Messrs. SKINNER, DYKE, TUCKIN and FORREST, On Thursday, the 5th of May, at twelve o clock, At GARRAWAYs COFFEE, CHANGE-ALLEY, CORNHILL, LONDON, IN ONE LOT.

A CAPITAL and Very Valuable FREEHOLD ESTATE, advantageously situate in the Townships of Middleton, Beeston and Hunslet, in the Parishes of Rothwell and Leeds, about one mile and a half of the capital Town of Leeds, and easy distance from Wakefield, Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax, in the West-Riding at the county of York:


The LORDSHIP or MANOR of MIDDLETON, with the GREAT TITHES of the same, a desirable Residence called MIDDLETON LODGE, with Offices, Walled Garden, Plantations and paddocks, a genteel Dwelling-House, occupied by Mr. Joseph Humble, a Water Corn Mill, a Brewer, a capacious Malting, One hundred and Sixty-two Workmen's cottages, Two Public-Houses, Stabling, Workshops, and other suitable Erections; and the surrounding Farms, containing in the whole
of fertile and productive Meadow, Pasture, and Arable LAND and WOODS, abundantly stocked with improving Timber, lying very compact, and nearly within a Ring-Fence, with Farm-Houses and Buildings for Husbandry; also ONE UNDIVIDED FOURTH-PART of the MANOR Of HUNSLET, part in hand; the remainder (except one small farm) let to Tenants at Will, and on Leases near expiring. The present Rents, with the estimated value the Premises in hand, (but exclusive of the Manors and Tythes taken in kind,) amount to
and which may be very considerably increased as the Leases expire; also the Valuable and Beneficial COAL WORKS on the ESTATE, well-known as
Communicating by an Iron Rail-Road with the Populous and Manufacturing Town of LEEDS, of which this Colliery is the chief supply. Under the regulations of several Acts of Parliament; with all the valuable Steam-Engines, Gins, Staithes, Iron and Wood Rail-Roads, Waggons, Tools, &c.
The Coals have sold on an average for the last Seven Years, for upwards of TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS per Annum.
Fifty Thousand Pounds may be left on Mortgage of the Premises for Seven Years.
To be Viewed.

Printed particulars may be had of Mr. Joseph Humble, on the premises; also at the Coal Staithe at Leeds, and of the under-mentioned Printers of the Newspapers: Mr. Baines, Leeds; Mr. Peacock, York; Mr. Walker, Newcastle; Mr. Donaldson, Edinburgh; Mr. Haugh, Manchester; Mr. Billinge, Liverpool; Mr. Peck, Hull; Mr. Stretton, Nottingham; Mr. Montgomery, Sheffield; also of Mr. Lewis, Gray s Inn-Square, London; at the Place of Sale; and of Messrs. Skinner, Dyke, Tuckin and Forrest, Aldergate-street, London, where Plans may be seen. [5]

This advertisement continued for over four months but despite numerous promises, a date of auction was never given.

During this period Charles John commissioned two Tyneside mining experts, Thomas Fenwick and John Watson, to survey and value the collieries at Middleton. The survey, concluded in January 1808, was reported to Charles in the following month:

Newcastle. Feb 1808.

Having viewed and examined the state of Middleton Colliery belonging to Charles Brandling Esq. for the purpose of putting a value thereon. For which purpose I have measured the quantity of coals in the sundry seams together with that of the Beeston seam and also having examined the annual Vend of the Colliery, which I find on an average of the last seven years to be 31,238 Waggons, from such an annual vend I calculate that their will be Mine sufficient to enable the Colliery to continue working for 66 years from Oct ensuing. I have also examined the selling prices of the Coal which are sold under the authority of the Act of Parliament and those sold at Leeds and other places as surplus quantities. Now having considered the aforesaid particulars I consider the following Estimate to be the value of the aforesaid Colliery and dead stock under the supposition that the vend, the selling price and the prices of Colliery materials continue the same as at present -

The annual profit of the Colliery I conceive will be £3500 which considered as an annuity for 66 years (the time I calculate the Colliery to continue at work) and allowing a purchaser at the rate of 15 per cent per annum upon the purchase money with the Capital sunk refunded in the above time, the present worth of which I make

The dead stock upon the Colliery such as Pumping Engines and Winding Engines, Gins, Waggon-Way and Waggons, with other fixed stock the present worth of which I conceive will be £1,615

Total: £24,951

Thomas Fenwick [5a]



Having been furnished by Mr Thomas Fenwick with the various particulars necessary towards making a valuation of Middleton Colliery belonging to Charles Brandling Esq. and having had recourse to the various plans of the Colliery and having also inspected the trials made to the other Seams of Coal under this Estate and having gone through the different expenses incurred in carrying forward the working of the said Colliery with the Vend and Sales of Coal annually for several preceding years I am of the opinion that the above sum of £24,951 is a fair and adequate value for the said Colliery with was is termed the dead stock upon the said premises.

John Watson. [5a]

N.B. No notice is taken of the live or using stock such as Horses, Hay, Corn, New Timber, Iron etc. etc. in the foregoing valuation as it is understood the purchaser has to take it on entering upon the Colliery by appraisement and to be valued by two different persons to be chosen for that purpose.

By the time Charles received their report he had withdrawn Middleton from the market.

In April a further valuation, by Edward Steel, was made:

Middleton Colliery

18 April 1808. An estimate of the expense of working the coals at this Colliery and Leading the same to the Staithes at Leeds and Hunslet on an annual vend of 31,264 Waggons for a term of years -

It appears from the quantity of Coals remaining in the different seams in this Colliery that 34 Waggons from the Main Coal Seam, 42 Waggons from the Little Coal Seam and 36 Waggons from the Forty Yards Coal Seam should be worked daily to supply the trade and to exhaust the coal in all the different Seams at the same period

Per wagon
Working coals from the Main Coal seam including all underground charges, Banksmen, Brakemen,keeping Machines in Repair, etc. will cost   5 - 1 ¾
Working coals from the Little Coal seam including all underground charges, Banksmen, Brakemen, keeping Machines in Repair, etc. will cost   5 - 5 ¾
Working coals from the Forty Yards Coal seam including all underground charges, Banksmen, Brakemen, keeping Machines in Repair, etc. will cost   6 - 0 ¾
Which sums multiplied by their respective daily proportions as above stated and divided by 112 gives the mean expense per waggon of 5 - 6 ½ from all the Seams. Which means expense multiplied by 35,000 Waggon's the quantity necessary to be wrought in one year and divided by 31,264 Waggons of Saleable Coal produced thereon gives the permanent cost of laying one Waggon of Coals on the Bank   6 - 2 ½
Leading Coals to workmen, Colliery Materials, Keeping Fire Engines, Sinking Pits, Agencies, and Taxes, Smithwork, Wroughtwork, Mason Work and Labourage, Timber, Nails, Iron, Cast Iron, Brass, Lead, Copper, Grease, Candle and Oils, etc. etc. other necessary expenses included   3 - 7 ½
Leading the Coals, attending two planes including Ropes, etc.   2 - 5 ¾
Repairing the Waggon Way and Waggons, Wayleave, Rents, Damaged Ground, etc   1 - 3
Staith Expenses   0 - 3 ½
Total Expense 13 - 10


£ s d
Sale of the Coals 2695 6 8
5,184 Waggons of Coals sold at 18/- deducting the cost 13/10 = 4/2 a Waggon Profit 1080 0 0
1,200 Waggons of Coals sold at 15/11 deducting the cost 9/10 = 5/2 a Waggon Profit   310 0 0
Annual Profit 4085 6 8


Duration of Colliery South of the Dyke

190 acres of Main Coal Seam at 1900 Waggons an acre   361,000
350 acres of Little Coal Seam at 1450 Waggons an acre   507,500
300 acres of Forty Yards Coal Seam at 1350 Waggons an acre   405,500

Which divided by 35,000 Waggons gives 36 duration on this side of the Dyke.

North Side of the Dyke

100 acres of Main Coal Seam at 1900 Waggons an acre  190,000
50 acres of Little Coal Seam at 1450 Waggons an acre   72,500


Which divided by 35,000 Waggons gives the duration on this side of the Dyke 7 years
South side of Dyke 36 years
Duration of Colliery exclusive of the Beeston Seam 43 years


Value of the Colliery

Say £4,000 profit a year for 43 years and allowing the purchaser 15 per cent per annum in worth in ready money the sum of £26,611-0-0d.

It appears necessary to observe that the seams of Coal under several small tracts of land lying contagious to Middleton Estate and some of them intermixed therewith may probably be purchased at an easy rate as the Owners are precluded from a wayleave through the Estate and their narrow limits of their Royalties will not warrant the expense of making a winning. This would enhance the value of this colliery in a considerable degree by prolonging the duration of it.

Edward Steel. [5a]

With the selling of the Middleton estates ruled out, Charles John borrowed considerable sums of money in his lifetime, using Middleton manor for collateral.


John Blenkinsop and the Middleton Colliery

The year 1808 saw the arrival of John Blenkinsop at Middleton as Agent or Viewer . Born at Felling in 1783, Blenkinsop had already worked for the Brandlings at their Tyneside collieries. Salaried at £400 per annum, with accommodation provided at Middleton Hall, he was charged with the task of improving the output of the colliery.

He immediately embarked on a survey of the pits, their working methods, and each pit's potential, and produced what appears to be his first report:

Middleton Colliery 10 Nov 1808

Having carefully and repeatedly viewed and examined the workings of the Fanny, Venture, Emma, Acres, Pocketts, Lady and Leys Pits now working at this Colliery, the property of Chas: Sir: Brandling, Esq:-

The Fanny, Venture, Emma Pits are working the Main Coal Seam, the Acres, Pocketts and Lady Pits are working the Little Coal Seam and the Leys Pit is working the Crow Coal Seam :-

Fanny Pit: The workings in this Pit are in two distinct sets part of which consists of four banks or boarings working off a detached piece of coal situated North West from the shaft which joins the water levels leading to the Bawcliffe Pit from the shaft southwards about 330 yards a set or four banks is turned away from the face of the south endings; two east boardgates are driven down to hole into the old waste for an air-course and two West broadgate's are also driven water level to a New Pit which was intended to be sunk by the late Mr Humble :-

Height of the Seam

Feet inches
Hard Band 13
Middle Band 12
Band or Slate 02 ½
Bottoms 11 ½
06 ½
49 ½

The quantity of Main Coal that may be got at this Pit is limited to 23 acres for reasons hereafter described.

Venture Pit: The workings in this Pit are in a North East direction from the shaft and consists of two east banks about 120 yards North East of the shaft, a staple was sinking here (on my arrival here) by order of the late Mr Humble to the Eleven Yards Coal in order that a drift may be driven in that seam for a water course from the Emma Pit as little dependence could be placed on the old water levels. On the completion of sinking the staple I lined the shaft to it, and marked the course of the drift N2gE which course the drift was to be driven and communicated to the Engine Levels, although it did not advance more than five yards in that direction till it holed into an old drowned drift which appeared by the plan to be 45 yards to the next, the water of course rose to its level and the project was abandoned. The coals wrought at this Pit are principally sold by landsale. The height of the Seam 4 foot 6 inches.

Emma Pit: The workings in this Pit consists of six banks and two boardgate posts about 200 yards west of the shaft. The seam in this part of the colliery is very tender and the roof bad, which looses a great quantity of timber. I am therefore of opinion for the reasons above stated together with the failure of the attempts made in the Venture Pit by driving a water course in the Eleven Yards Coal that this tract of mine should be wrought off with as much expedition as possible there being only 13 ¾ acres it may be accomplished in fifteen or sixteen months.

The Little Coal at this pit has not been opened out but from its situation this field of coal containing 44a 3r 35p [a = acre, r=rood, p=perch] can be wrought to great advantage. The pit being sunk in a centrical situation which make hurrying at an easy distance.

Acres Pit: The workings in this Pit are in two distinct sets of six banks, at 200 yards to the south of the shaft, two boardgates and three banks are working west up, and at 260 yards north from the shaft are three banks and one boardgate working East down towards the old workings.

Height of the Seam

Feet inches
Roof or top coal 09 ½
Hard band shell 03
Hard band 06 ½
Bairing 14

The Main Coal in this pit is entirely exhausted and the Little Coal as delineated on the Colliery Plan remaining unwrought contains 39a 3r 5p [a = acre, r=rood, p=perch] and can wrought to great advantage.

Pocketts Pit: The places carrying forward in this Pit consist of eight banks and three boardgates to the West, the North West and North East of the shaft, to the South a pair of endings have advanced about 200 yards and are turned South west as the boundary is running in that direction.

Height of the Seam at face of the endings

Feet inches
Top coal 07
Hard band shell 03
Hard band 08
Bairing 11

In other parts of the pit the seam is generally about three feet.

The Main Coal in this pit is entirely wrought and taken away and the Little Coal remaining unwrought as delineated on the Colliery Plan measures about 17a - 0f - 5p the greatest part of which lies to the South West which would be wrought to the greatest advantage by means of Rolley Horses to convey the coals from the crane to the shaft -

Feet inches
Top coal 04 ½
Band 03
Coal 24 ½

Lady Pit: The workings in this Pit consist of three sets of banks, the first set containing three banks 100 yards East of the shaft working West up; second set containing three banks working East down 240 yards South from the shaft; and the third set containing five banks 350 yards as from the shaft and one boardgate post is working off in a North West direction near the Well Pit engine.

Height of the Seam

Feet inches
Roof 09
Hard band shell 04 ½
Hard band 07 ½
Bairing 16 ½
33 ½

The Main Coal in this pit has I presume been wrought many years ago, the workings of which have not been laid down on the Colliery Plan which deprives me of the knowledge whether any remains or not.

The tract of Little Coal remaining in this Pit lies in a different direction as will appear by the plan, viz:

a r p
West of the shaft 11211
North East 5312
South East 526
South West 3110

[a = acre, r=rood, p=perch. 1 acre = 4 roods and 1 rood = 40 perches]

Leys Pit: This Pit is working in a seam or bed of coal called the 40 Yards or Crow Coal which was opened out about 16 months ago. The working of which are in a North West direction from the shaft and containing two West boardgates and four banks.

Height of the Seam

Feet inches
Top coal 04 ½
Band 03
Coal 24 ½

This Pit is only raising nine waggons a day from the Coals being very sulphourus, two waggons a day are only sold at Leeds the remainder are consumed by the Fire Engine for pumping water and the workmen.

This seam I am of opinion will be very valuable at a future date when the Main Coal and Lttle Coal Seams in the Neighbouhood of Leeds are nearly exhausted. The mine being easy of access and in the working of which very little timber is used I am convinced the profits arising therefrom will be considerable. I therefore recommend the working of this seam to be stopped for the present and in future to be regulated by existing circumstances, that is to say, when the demand for coal is very pressing, the Main Coal to be reserved and this seam to be wrought in its stead

Little Coal that may be worked by the present winning

a r p
Lady Pit 26039
Pocketts Pit 1705
Emma Pit 14335
Acres Pit 33335
Garden Pit 51130
Fanny Lodge and Bawcliffe Pits 106230

at 1468 waggons an acre will serve a vend of 20,000 waggons about 25 years.

Main Coal that may be worked by the present winning

a r p
Emma Pit 1330
Fanny Pit 23315
Bawcliffe Pit 2230
South West 59115

[a = acre, r=rood, p=perch. 1 acre = 4 roods and 1 rood = 40 perches]

at 1778 waggons an acre will serve a vend of 15,000 waggons about 7 years.

Average duration of the mine, which may be wrought at the Pits already sunk

Little Coal 280 acres at 1468 waggons  411,0440
Main Coal 59½ acres at 1778 waggons   105,347

and on a vend of 35,000 waggons will serve 14½ years.

About 35 acres of Main Coal situated West of the Fanny Pit which may be wrought by the present winning and the duration of this valuable seam may be prolonged four years more than mentioned without sinking by working this tract of coal to the Fanny Pit, yet I would rather recommend a new pit which might be wrought without the present engine establishment.

I am of opinion this Colliery may be wrought without the aid of fire engines for pumping water, to effect this I would strongly recommend the Main Coal to be wrought off in the Fanny and Emma Pit with the greatest expedition and the Main Coal in the Bawcliffe Pit to be secured by means of Frame Dams to be fixed in the drifts which communicate the old workings; two narrow boards of which are holed into the Lodge Pit workings and the other two into the Fanny pit workings.

I have marked out with precision the coal that may be at the Fanny Pit which measures to

Fanny Pit which measures to 23    acres
Main Coal in the Emma Pit 13¼   acres
36¼   acres

which will supply a vend of 20,000 waggons three years or 15,000 waggons four years.

On completion of this the fire engines may be dispensed with and the feeders allowed to rise to the level of the Little Coal which would then pass through Mr Fenton s old colliery to the River Aire as I am told a communication was made into this colliery many years ago:

Fath   Ft Ins
Descent from the Well Pit Engine to an
Old Pit in Mr Fenton's ground near the 41 1
From the surface to top of water which is
now discharging itself into the River   2 4 0
43 5 0 ½
Depth to Little Coal at Well Engine Pit 42 4 6
_____ ____ ____
  1 0

It appears from the above level that the thick of the little Coal in the Well Pit is 6/6 [6 feet 6 ins] above the surface of the water in Mr Fenton's old colliery, however, as a precautionary measure I would recommend that the Little Coal in the Lady and Bawcliffe Pits to be worked off at the same time that the Main Coal is in a course of working in the Fanny and Emma Pits; the other Pits being considerable to the rise of the colliery and in that case the water may be allowed to rise above the Little Coal at the Well Pit provided there is any (no) obstruction in the passage before described. As a new pit has been marked out on the Colliery Plan by my predecessor reference whereunto being had will more fully appear, the sinking of which I am informed was to commence immediately. As a proof of this two narrow boars are advancing water level to the said intended Pit to effect a watercourse to the Engines. At the cessation of the working of the Main Coal in the Fanny, Emma and Bawcliffe Pits a winning of this seam ought to be completed in the West part of the estate:-

As no accurate opinion can be formed at present with respect to the winning of this tract of coal yet from the levels I have taken I support the following, viz: it appears to me that this winning may be accomplished by drifting in the Little Coal level commencing at the outburst South of Middleton Mill which will win this seam in this part of the estate clear of the Engine Establishment and this Main Coal may be won by means of a staple sunk down to the said seam which lies about 15 fathoms below, and as little water is made in this seam a small engine would be capable of drawing both coal and water. I would strongly recommend a trial drift to be made in the Little Coal seam at the outburst which would explore the mine effectively; but above all things I would strongly recommend future winnings to be totally unconnected with the present going colliery in order to get rid of the Engine Establishment which I am perfectly convinced will increase the profits of the colliery at least £1,000 a year. The line of waggon road for the west part of the estate I have delineated on the Plan which would pass on the North side of Middleton Lodge, through Middleton Wood and join the present line of waggon road a little East of Belle Isle, yet it would be much better if it would join at Hunslet Common provided wayleave could be obtained through Mr. Fodds Estate; the line of waggon road is calculated for the winning of the 143 acres of coal on the North side of the dyke under Middleton Lodge and the ajoining.

Upon a general view of the mode of conducting this colliery I am of decided opinion that the method of drawing the coals is capable of great improvement as it is badly calculated for raising a great quantity at one shaft as by the present mode of managing seven pits are kept at work to supply the demand which I am firmly convinced four pits are calculated to raise a quantity of 35,000 waggons annually, the conductors to be laid aside and the methods as now practiced in the Newcastle Collieries to be introduced, a saving of three machine engines, timber, ropes and other materials necessary to keep three pits at work.

John Blenkinsop [5a]

In 1809 Blenkinsop was advertising coal for the river-bourne trade:

COALS TO BE DISPOSED OF, on the most advantageous terms.
Notice is hearby given, That CHARLES JOHN BRANDLING, Esq. the Proprietor of the extensive and valuable Coal Mines, at Middleton near Leeds, is ready to deliver any QUANTITY of COALS on Board any Vessel or Vessels to be placed in the River Aire for the Purpose, either immediately above or below the Bridge, in Leeds, at Eighteen Shilling per Waggon, containing Twenty Coal Bolls, Winchester Measure, weighing forty-five Cwts. And upwards.
For further Particulars apply to Mr. John Blenkinsop, of Middleton. [6]

Again, in 1812, Blenkinsop reports on the state of Middleton's colliery:

Coal wrought at Middleton belonging to Charles Brandling Esq.:-

Main Coal West of Fanny Pit       32   acres
Main Coal inter-mixed with Barstows and Bowers Coal       27   acres
Main Coal bought of Mr Copley       39   acres
Main Coal West Wood and Mill Land supposed about       50   acres
From the printed particulars of 1807 it appears there are 143 acres of Main Coal on the north side of the great dyke. This dyke was supposed to be a downcast to the north. It now appears from borings, I have made, to be an upcast. I therefore can only calculate 100 acres, the Little Coal being out     100   acres
    248   acres
Little Coal unwrought     318   acres
Little Coal bought of Mr Copley       39   acres
    357   acres
Main Coal 248 acres at 1700 waggons an acre:     421,600
Little Coal 357 acres at 1400 waggons an acre:     499,800
On a vend of 35,000 annually will last     26¼ years
On a vend of 40,000 annually will last     23 years
On a vend of 45,000 annually will last     20½ years
On a vend of 50,000 annually will last     18½ years
On a vend of 55,000 annually will last     16¾ years
On a vend of 60,000 annually will last     15¼ years
William Barstows Coal      62½ acres
Anthony Robinsons        7½ acres
Fanny Barstows      17 acres
Bowers      25 acres
Deduct for loss at dykes      12
    100 acres
of Main and Little Coal will produce at 3100 waggons an acre, 310,000 waggons and on a vend of 35,000 waggons a year will last 8¾ years.    
Joseph Armytage coal about     100 acres
Mr Brandlings coal of Mr Axley      37½ acres
    137½ acres
Deduct for loss at Dykes, etc.      17½ acres
    120 acres
of Main and Little Coal at 3100 waggons an acre will produce 372,000 waggons and on a vend of 35,000 waggons will serve 101/2 years    
           Total Duration    
Mr Brandling's Coal     26¼ years
Mr Barstow's Coal      8¾ years
Joseph Armytage and a part of Mr Brandlings     10½ years
    45½ years

Should the quantity of Coals increase in the same ratio as it has done for the last five or six years the duration of the Main and Little Coal Seams will be about 30 years.

The profit arising from Middleton Colliery on a vend of 35,000 waggons may be calculated at from £7000 to £8000 a year unless something unforeseen occurs.

It is necessary to observe that there is a seam under Mr Brandlings Estate called the Forty Yards or Crow Coal, about 300 acres and on the aforesaid vend will serve about 12 years, but from its inferior quality I have taken no notice of it in my calculation, there will be no market for the coal as long as there is any of the Main or Little Coal at a convenient distance from Leeds.

The materials as a going Colliery are worth £25,000 but at the apportion of the Colliery they will not be sold for more than £10,000.

John Blenkinsop

N.B. The Little Coal seam in the Pits now working is only 2'8" thick; the same Seam was 3 feet thick in the east part of the estate [5a]

The Peninsular War (1807-1814) led to a massive increase in the price of horse fodder, increasing the costs of Brandling's Waggonway. Blenkinsop began to look for a cheaper way to move coal from Middleton's pits to his markets in Leeds.

In 1811 it was reported that:

A patent recently obtained to facilitate the conveyance of coals, &c. is about to be applied on a large scale, it having been determined to discard the use of horses on the iron railway between Middleton and Leeds, a distance of three miles, and to convey the coals from the collieries of C. J. Brandling, Esq. of Middleton, by the agency of steam. [7]

Blenkinsop ordered the Leeds steam-engine manufacturers Fenton, Murray and Wood to build him a locomotive. He and engineer Matthew Murray of that firm teamed up in 1811 to build an engine and a rack railway. The rack system appears to have been Blenkinsop's contribution, while the rest of the design appears to have been worked out by Murray. The design of the locomotive and an explanation of its workings are provided below:

Picture of Blenkinsop and Murray Steam Engine

The boiler x is placed on a wooden or cast-iron frame y. Through its interior passes a wrought-iron tube, of sufficient diameter to hold the fire and grate; this tube is carried out at the further end of the boiler when it is bent upwards, and continued sufficiently high to form the chimney z. aa are two working cylinders fixed in the boiler, and which work in the usual way; the piston rods are connected by cross heads to the connecting rods bb. These connecting rods are brought down on each side of the boiler, and there joined to the cranks cc, (there be corresponding cranks on the other side of the machine,) which are placed at right angles to each other; consequently the two cranks on the first shaft are horizontal, and at their greatest power t the time the other two are passing the centre. Upon these shafts are fixed (under the boiler) two small toothed wheels, which give motion to a larger tooth wheel fixed upon an intermediate axis. A toothed wheel f is firmly keyed to the end of the same and revolves with the intermediate wheel. The teeth of f correspond with, and work into the rack RR, stretched alongside one side of the railway. Motion, therefore, is given by the pistons to the wheels dd, which they communicate to the cog-wheel f; a progressive movement being given to the carriage by the teeth of f taking hold of the rack. [7a]

The first engine, believed to have named after the Prince Regent, made its first public appearance on 24th June, 1812. From the Leeds Mercury, Wednesday, 27th June 1812 ...

On Wednesday last a highly interesting experiment was made with a Machine constructed by Messrs. FENTON, MURRAY and WOOD, of this place, under the direction of Mr. BLENKINSOP, the Patentee, for the purpose of substituting the agency of steam for the use of horses in the conveyance of coals on the Iron-rail-way from the mines of J. C. Brandling, Esq., at Middleton, to Leeds. This machine is in fact a steam engine of four horses' power, which with the assistance of cranks turning a cog-wheel, and iron cogs placed on one side of the rail-way, is capable of moving, when lightly loaded, at a speed of ten miles an hour.

At four o'clock in the afternoon the machine ran from the Coal-staith to the top of Hunslet-Moor, where six, and afterwards eight, waggons of coal, each weighing 3 tons, were hooked to the back part. With this immense weight, to which, as it approached the town, was super-added about 50 of the spectators, mounted upon the waggon, it started on its return to the Coal-staith, and performed the journey, a distance of about a mile and a half, principally on a dead level, in 25 minutes, without the slightest accident. The experiment, which was witnessed by thousands of spectators, was crowned with complete success; and when it is considered that the invention is applicable to all rail-roads, and that upon the works of Mr. Brandling alone, the use of 50 horses will be dispensed with, and the corn necessary for the consumption of, at least 200 men saved, we cannot forbear to hail the invention as one of vast public utility, and to rank the inventor amongst the benefactors of his country. [8]

The same paper, on July 18th 1812, contained a woodcut, shown below, which appears to be the earliest illustration of a railway engine that was ever published ...

Earliest illustration of a railway engine, Leeds Mercury 
	    July 18th 1812

The Prince Regent weighed five tons, had two vertical cylinders inside the top of the boiler to preserve heat - Murray's idea - and could haul 90 tons at 4mph on a level track.

A second engine made its debut at the official opening of the line on August 12th 1812, and it was christened Salamanca in honour of a British victory in the Peninsular War that had taken place precisely three weeks earlier.


Engine illustration showing cross-section Engine illustration
Salamanca crossing Viaduct, Leeds

Blenkinsop's Salamanca, named after a British victory in the Peninsular War, crosses the viaduct near Christ Church, Leeds, in the middle of a train of wagons in 1812.


Murray produced two further engines for the line, the first coming into service on the 4th August 1813, and the other on the 23rd November 1814. The engines cost £380 each to build and proved expensive to run, but the costs were bearable because they replaced no fewer than 50 horses and an estimated 200 men.

Within a year of the opening of his railway, Blenkinsop complained about the actions of 'vandals' :

Fifty Guineas Reward

Whereas some evil-disposed Person or Persons did on the Evening of Thursday the Thirty first day of December last, wiltfully and maliciously put and place several large Blocks of Stone and lose Iron Rails upon the Waggon Railway from Middleton to Leeds, near to Leeds Pottery, and upon Hunslet Moor, for the purpose of breaking or damaging Mr. John Blenkinsop s Patent Steam Carriages, used in conveying coals from Middleton to Leeds, and by which Stones and loose rails a part of the machinery about the said carriages was not only broken and otherwise materially injured, but the lives of the Men employed about them, placed in the most imminent danger.

Notice is Hearby given:

That a reward of Fifty Guineas will be paid by the said John Blenkinsop to any Person or Persons who will give such information as will lead to and end in the complete Discovery and Conviction of the Person or Persons who so put and place the said Blocks of Stone and loose Rails upon the said Rail Road; and in order to prevent such Practices in future, a like Reward of Fifty Guineas will be paid by the said John Blenkinsop to any Person who will give such information as will lead to the Discovery and Conviction of any other Person, either directly or indirectly engaged or concerned therein; or it wiltfully and maliciously using the same or any other Means to obstruct or impede the working of the said Steam Carriages upon the said Railway.

Middleton Railway Jan 4 1813 [8a]

Later in the year, Blenkinsop produced another report about the state of Middleton's Colliery:

Middleton Colliery 19 June 1813

Coal to be wrought from the Pits already sunk at this colliery:-

Main Coal at the Bawcliffe Pit measures 15 acres and will produce 1700 waggons an acre  25,500

Little Coal   Acres  
Emma Pit 32
Acres Pit 14
Garden Pit 42¾
Fanny Pit 53
Bawcliffe Pit 48

Deduct 1/16 part of that quantity for Coals lost at dykes, etc, will be 171 acres the seam only being 2'9" thick in the west part of the estate will produce 1400 waggons an acre.   239,400

The above quantity on a vend of 40,000 a year (including home consumption) will last 6½ years.

Coals to be got on the south side of the Great Dyke exclusive of the Beeston Seam which appears from the borings not to warrant the attempt of winning at the present day.

Coal situate between the Fanny Pit old workings and Barstows land.

  Main Coal    Little Coal  
  34:2:34 34:2:34
Coal under the estate of Copley 39:0:039:0:0
Coal between Bowers and Ridsdales estate 26:3:1426:3:14
Coal under part of West Wood and part of
Middleton Mill Farm 96:0:048:0:0
Deduct 1/16 for waste at dykes, etc  19:2:8 14:0:8

[measurements above are in acres, roods and perches. 1 acre = 4 roods and 1 rood = 40 perches]

The produce will be viz:

177 acres of Main Coal at 1700 waggons an acre 300,000
134½ acres of Little Coal at 1400 waggons an acre 188,300

And on a vend of 40,000 waggons a year which includes home consumption will serve 12¼ years.

Coals to be obtained by new pits to be sunk on the north side of the great dyke including the Beeston Seam as that seam is in the course of working by a colliery adjoining. I presume it may be wrought to advantage during the time of working the Main and Little Coal.

Beeston Seam 200 acres at 1300 waggons an acre 260,000
Main Coal 100 acres at 1700 waggons an acre 170,000
Little Coal 50 acres at 1400 waggons an acre 70,000

Produce on Waggons

On a vend of 40,000 will serve 12½ years

Duration of Colliery collected

 Waggons  Seam
From the present winning   264,400
New Pit on south side of great dyke exclusive of Beeston Seam   489,20012¼
North side of present dyke including the Beeston Seam.   500,00012½

The above being the produce and duration of Middleton Colliery exclusive of the Beeston Seam on the South Side of the Great Dyke which runs in a direction from Bullish Quarry to the South Side of Middleton Lodge Garden, which is an upcast to the North, rise unknown.

  Produce Duration
Duration of Middleton 1,253,00031¼
Coal belonging to the Lords of the Manor
of Beeston under Mr Denison Estate and   375,700
part of Mr Brandling's will produce
And on a vend of 15,000 waggons a year
will last 25
Produce of both Collieries 1,629,300

The produce of both collieries is 1,629,300 waggons and from the united vend of 55,000 waggons a year will serve 29 years.

During the time of peace it is highly probable that the consumption of Leeds will increase to 70,000 waggons a year and on a vend of the above description with an addition of 5,000 waggons for the home consumption of both collieries their duration will be little more than 20 years.

John Blenkinsop [5a]

Again in 1814 the Middleton Estate was advertised for sale:


A very valuable FREEHOLD ESTATE situate in the Townships of Middleton, Beeston, and Hunslet, in the Parishes of Rothwell and Leeds, in the West Riding of the County of York comprising the MANOR or LORDSHIP of MIDDLETON, with the GREAT TITHES of nearly the whole Township.

A Modern-built MANSION HOUSE and desirable Residence, called MIDDLETON LODGE, with suitable Out-Offices, Walled Gardens, Hot-House, Green-House, Plantations and Paddocks. Two commodious Dwelling Houses, with the Outbuildings are occupied by Mr. John Blenkinsop and Mr. George Humble.

A BREWERY, a spacious Malt-Kiln and Water Corn-Mill, three Public Houses, and about 150 Workmen s Cottages; together with upwards of ONE THOUSAND ACRES of rich MEADOW and PASTURE LAND, divided into convenient Farms, with good Farm Houses, Barns, Stables, and other Conveniences let to respectable tenants; altogether also with about FOUR HUNDRED ACRES of WOODLAND, well stocked with young thriving oak, Ash and other Timber, the whole lying nearly in a ring-fence, and within one mile and a half of the populous commercial town of Leeds, and at an easy distance from wakefield, Bradford, Huddersfield and Halifax.

If the Estate is not disposed of by Private Contract, it will be advertised for Sale by Auction, in Lots, in the month of March or April next.

For particulars apply to Messrs. UPTON, NICHOLSON, and HEMINGWAY, Solicitors in leeds; or to Mr. JOHN BLENKINSOP, at Middleton, where Plans of the Estate may be seen. [10]

In February, 1820, another accident occurred:

A shocking accident took place on Wednesday at Middleton Colliery, near Leeds. In consequence of the incautious conduct of one of the workmen, who was laying a train, the fire-damp took hold of the light and exploded; by which Wm. Heald and his grandson were so shockingly burnt as to occasion their death. [11]

In 1822, Blenkinsop was advertising for miners:

Colliers Wanted a number of colliers or hurriers at Middleton Colliery. Good workmen will meet with liberal encouragement. The following is a faithful statement of earnings taken from the 'wage books'.


1822      DAYS       £      s     d   DAYS      £      s     d   DAYS      £      s     d  
June 14 12   2    11     2 ½ 12   2      4     6
       28 12   2    12   10 10   2      0     9 3   0      9     0
July 12 12   2    18     6 6   3      6     4 11   1    17     0
       26 12   2      7   11 11   2    12     5 12   2      8     3
Aug 9 8   2      0     5 5   3      0     3 12   3      0     4
Total 56 12    11   10 ½ 58 13      4     3 38   7    14     7



1822      DAYS       £      s     d   DAYS      £      s     d   DAYS      £      s     d  
June 14 12   1    18    11 12   1     4     0 12   1     4     0
       28 12   1    17     4 12   1     8     1 12   1     8     1
July 12 12   1    15     0 11   1     3     6 12   1     6     8
       26 12   1    15     3 12   1     7     9 12   1     8     6
Aug 9 12   1    17     6 12   1    10     6 12   1    11     0
Total 60   9     4     0 54   6    13    10 60   6    17     3

The Colliers at Middleton have houses, gardens and coals for twenty shillings a year each man, besides rates of every description paid for them which I consider is full four shillings per week over and above their earnings. Middleton Colliery, 14th August 1822.

J. Blenkinsop. [12]

On the 12th January 1825, the most serious accident in the history of Middleton's coal mining took place at Gosforth pit. Below is the account in the Leeds Intelligencer. The accident was serious enough to merit accounts in many newspapers and periodicals around the world. Many of these have been transcribed and gathered together on the 1825 Middleton Mining Accident Reports page.

ACCIDENT AT MIDDLETON COLLIERY, NEAR LEEDS. Leeds Intelligencer Office, Thursday, three o clock. - One of the most tremendous explosions took place at Middleton colliery, near this town, the property of C.J. Brandling, Esq., M.P. about seven o clock last evening, that has ever been known to occur in this neighbourhood. The report was as loud as that of a cannon, and produced such an effect upon the various parts of the pit, seemingly to one of the persons who was employed in it at the time, as though the whole was falling in with a dreadful crash. Of course, as the whole of the men who were employed in the immediate vicinity where it happened, have fallen a prey to its violence, except the few who were taken out to the Infirmary about two o clock this morning (and they were in such a state as not to be able to give any precise account of the circumstance), it cannot be ascertained with any certainty how it was occasioned; but we have collected the following particulars from the spot, which develops the only rational means that can be mentioned as the cause of its occurrence. It is customary, after excavating a part of the pit, about 15 yards in length, to prop the roof by supporters, till they perform the like operation on a similar quantity of coal adjoining; then to remove the props from the first allotment, securing that part of the pit nearest the place where labourers are employed. In the space left by the excavations the foul air collects, and it is supposed that this old strata has fallen in, and driven the combustible element with such force towards the spot where the men were employed as to cause it to take fire and explode. Had this event taken place when the necessary precaution of having safety guards upon the lamps was in operation, it would have produced no such effect; but it was entirely owing to the imprudent conduct of some of the unfortunate individuals themselves, in keeping their lamps exposed to the air, which was known to be the case yesterday. The truth of this remark is confirmed by the fact that the lamps have since been used in the pit with the wire guards, and are found perfectly secure. It is said that there were two shocks, and that more injury was sustained from what is called the black damp, or after-damp, than was received from the one which immediately preceded it. The men by the former were burnt, and by the latter suffocated. The pit is one of those which is entered by what is called a day-hole, and proceeds under a level with the surface of the ground at its entrance for nearly a mile, where there is a perpendicular descent of 75 yards, at the bottom of which the pit branches off in different directions. In one of these branch roads the accident happened, and some of the men were found in groups of five or six, one upon another, and in other places more at about forty yards from the pit bottom, or the place they would have to ascend to make their escape; some were 200, and others 300 yards from this point. There were ten men in more distant parts of the pit, who, though they felt the effects of the shock, received no further injury than that of being knocked down by the violence of the explosion. The number of men who were killed on this occasion is twenty-four, and we have endeavoured to collect their names and ages which as much precision as the present confused state of things would permit. The following are their names, and what other circumstances we could learn respecting their families:-

John Proctor (aged 60) wife and three children; James Wood (23), his wife was brought to bed yesterday; Benjamin Wood, jun. (13); Benjamin Wood, sen. (43), father of the two former; wife and three children; Joshua Liversedge (43), wife and ten children; Saml. Ramsden (12); Calita Ramsden (14); John Ramsden (20); Wm. Heald (18); Wm. Wood (36), wife and child; Joseph Dixon (8); Sanderson Handford-this young man would have completed his 18th year to-morrow; Samuel Cromack (10); Benjamin Broadhead (40), wife and one child; George Wright (27), wife and three children; Luke Normington (27), wife and two children; James Drury (18); Richard Foster (five) this poor little fellow was taken out alive in a mangled state, and expired at three o clock this morning; James Heald (fourteen); George Ambler (eight); Peter Hamel (thirty-three), wife; James Foster (eight); Joseph Haigh (forty), wife and child, and John Ramsden (23), are yet in the pit, and supposed to be dead. George Ambler (8) both his thighs broke; John Liversedge (20), much burnt, Samuel Hewitt (16), skull fractured; and Geo. Hewitt (23), much bruised; were taken to the Infirmary about two-o clock this morning, and there are some hopes entertained of their recovery.

The distress that prevails throughout the neighbourhood cannot be conceived. In some families two, and in others three, have fallen in the general wreck; and while the friends of the deceased were waiting at the pit s mouth with breathless anxiety to know the fate of their relatives, the heart-rending cries of widows and fatherless children presented such a scene as beggars all description. Nor has the appearance of things much changed for the better; sorrow appears depicted in every countenance, and the whole neighbourhood appears to join in the common grief.

The friends of two of the men who are yet in the pit are labouring under the poignant feelings of despair, sometimes but slightly relieved by a faintly glimmering ray of hope that their destiny may not be eternally fixed. The utmost exertions were used to rescue them, and Mr Blenkinsop, Mr Nicholson, and a number of others connected with the colliery were incessantly employed till five o clock this morning, when the fire reached such a pitch as to render it unsafe to proceed any further. Since then the pit has been, in a great degree, in a burning state and they are adopting measures to put a stop to its progress, which may be affected in a day or two, or may continue a much longer time.

It is almost impossible to describe the appearance of the unfortunate sufferers; several of them have broken limbs; such as were most affected by the first blast have all the skin burnt off their faces, and the bodies of others are perfectly black. One young man appears to have been fighting against the flames upon his body, as, at the time he was found, his hand was full of flesh.

Before we dismiss the narration of this melancholy event, we venture to suggest the propriety of some of our more opulent fellow-townsmen immediately setting on foot a subscription for the relief of the bereaved widows and fatherless children; of whom there are ten of the former, and twenty-five of the latter. [13]

Soon explanations began to appear as to why the explosion had occurred, such as this from the Morning Post of 25th January 1825:

Every thing that has transpired through the evidence at the several Inquests which have been held on the unfortunate sufferers in Middleton Colliery confirms us in the opinion we stated a few days back. The carelessness of the miners, the culpable neglect of the bottom stewards, and the general indifference of all other persons, convince us that Government ought to assume the supervision of the coal districts. As we suspected, the safety lamp, in the reckless manner it has usually been used, is detrimental rather than serviceable to the colliers. It seems the latter, during the greater part of their labours, take off the wire-gauze on various accommodating pretences, and that it was on one of these occasions the late explosion took place. Had no such protection been at all employed, the probability is, that the Agents and Stewards of the mine would have been more attentive to its ventilation. They deemed, however, the use of the safety lamp a guarantee against danger, and neglected these precautions in its absence indispensable, and in its abuse equally so. We sincerely trust Parliament will take up the subject. The nation is disgraced by the frequent recurrence of fatal accidents, which a little care would obviate, but which no legislative steps have been taken to prevent. We ask no infringement of private right we demand the redress of a public grievance; and the speedier redress be obtained the better for individuals, and the more honourable to the country. [14]

The inquest in the accident was reported by the Leeds Mercury, on 19th February, 1825:

MIDDLETON COLLIERY. The melancholy sequel to the tragedy at Gosforth Pit has now been performed. Soon after midnight last Sunday, Mr. Blenkinsop and Mr. Bedford repaired to the spot, attended by a number of the work-people, and descended into the pit. The avenue wherein the explosion took place had been fastened up with boards, covered with earth; into which a tube six inches diameter with a cover, was at the same time introduced. On removing the top of the tube, the carburetted hydrogen gas rushed out with so much force that the persons in the pit were obliged to retreat for nearly 150 yards towards the mouth of the pit to find a breathable atmosphere. They then quitted the pit, leaving the process of ventilation to go on till Tuesday evening, when they still further promoted it by such means as they judged necessary. On Wednesday morning, the air was sufficiently pure to enable them to remove the covering, and to commence the search for the two bodies that were missing. The body of Joseph Haigh was found almost immediately, with his hands over his face, as if attempting to prevent suffocation; but that of John Ramsden was sought for a long time in vain; at length it was discovered by the accidental removal of a piece of timber; his death had no doubt been instantaneous and his body could scarcely have been more dislocated if he had been shout of a mortar. The first care of those engaged in the search was to take the remains out of the pit, but so rabid had been the process of putrefaction that it was only by their clothes that they could be recognised by their friends. The same day the Coroner held his inquest upon them, and the particulars of the search are described by Moses Roberts, the only witness examined on the occasion, in the subjoined deposition:-

Moses Roberts, who is a bottom steward, and one of the witnesses sworn on a former inquest. He deposed that the pit was opened early on Monday morning, before which time, he did not consider it at all safe to attempt. Indeed it was then opened sooner than it otherwise would have been had not the bodies been in the pit. They got down to the bottom of the shaft on Tuesday, but could not possibly get to that part of the pit where the bodies were found till yesterday (Wednesday). Every means were used by deponent, Thomas Bedford, and eight other men, under Mr. Blenkinsop's directions, to find the bodies. They went along the centre board gate, and in the first bank in the north division of the workings, the bank next to that in which he was employed at the time of the accident, they found Joseph Haigh. He [deponent] has no doubt he died from the effect of the explosion. Haigh belonged to the second shift. The corpse is in such a state that he cannot say whether he was burnt or suffocated. At the time of the former search they could not proceed so far down the banks as where Haigh was found, on account of the sulphurous state of the mine. Ramsden was found in a board-slit leading to the south part of the workings, opposite the north division. He appeared to have been driven with great force, and was nearly covered with rubbish. The body bore marks of great violence. They had been round it many times before they could find it, owing to its being buried in the dirt. Thought it was not at all safe to go down before, lest the pit should be fired. To a question put by a juror, witness replied that he did not know that any of them were in the of working with their lamp tops off.

The Jury without hesitation returned a verdict: Died in consequence of an explosion of carberrated hydrogen gas in Gosforth Coal Pit, on Wednesday the 12th of January, 1825. [15]

Blenkinsop immediately made changes to the safety lamps and provided some financial support for the families of those affected by the disaster:

Mr. Blenkinsop, the principal agent to Mr. Brandling, at Middleton colliery, near Leeds, has determined to adopt an excellent expedient to prevent a repetition of such dreadful accidents as that recorded in our last [issue]. He has resolved to affix locks to the safety lamps used in the pits, so that the men cannot open them, if they should so be inclined. Mr Blenkinsop has defrayed the expense of the coffins to bury the dead. He has also given £2 to the relatives of each married man that is killed, to those of each single man £1, and to those of each boy 5s., besides rendering other assistance to the bereaved families. [16]

In March 1825 a death was reported on the railway:

SHOCKING ACCIDENT. On Saturday afternoon last, George Hutchinson, who was one of the men in conducting the steam-engines used in conveying coals from Middleton to Leeds was blown to pieces by the bursting of the boiler. [17]

In December 1825, another accident occurred at the Gosforth Pit:

ACCIDENT AT MIDDLETON COLLIERY. About 7 o'clock on Friday evening, a young man of the name Wright, 23 years of age, was killed in Gosforth-pit, Middleton colliery, near Leeds, by what is technically-termed burrowing. He and three others were the only persons at that time employed in that department of the pit, when the principal prop which supported a large stone in the roof was removed, and the other props which should have supported it having been previously broken, the stone, which was seven yards square, and three feet thick, fell upon him with a tremendous crash. They had to dig for him through the stone, which occupied them three hours before the unfortunate man could be released, when, of course, he was quite dead. The three other men were not much injured.
Leeds Intelligencer. [18]

John Blenkinsopp never recovered from the effects of the Gosforth Pit disaster. As George Hill was to report: ... he is much worse, and the medical men entertain faint hopes of his recovery. [19]

Hill then undertook practical arrangements for the mines in the event of his death adding Mr. Blenkinsop may recover his health, and for this I pray most earnestly, both for his sake and Mrs. Blenkinsop. [20]


Other Events Related to Middleton

In 1807, Charles John appointed a new gamekeeper:

GAME DUTY: West Riding of Yorkshire
A list of Gamekeepers Certificates.
Hancock, Ralph, appointed by Charles John Brandling, Esq. for the Manor of Middleton. [21]

From the time of the mediaeval Parliament of England until 1826 each county of England sent two Knights of the Shire as members of Parliament, to represent the interests of their county. In 1826, the number of knights from Yorkshire was increased to four. With the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832 different counties sent different numbers of knights to Parliament until the abolition of the seats in the Reform Act of 1884.

In 1807, there was only one person residing in Middleton registered to vote:

Morley Middleton
Candidates: William Wilberforce
            Henry Lascelles
            Lord Milton

Barstow William, esq. [voted for Lord Milton] [22]

On the 17th October 1810, Charles John leased his farm at Rothwell to Thomas Dixon of Middleton for a period of 9 years. The lease commenced from the 2nd February 1811 for the land and the 1st May 1811 for the farm buildings. The lease was signed by John Grace (on Charles' behalf) and Thomas Dixon and witnessed by John Blenkinsop. [23]

In 1816, land in Middleton was advertised for sale:

MIDDLETON, near LEEEDS. To be Peremptorily SOLD by ACTION.

On Friday, the 27th Day of September, 1816, precisely at Four o Clock in the Afternoon at the Hands of Mr. Wm. Ward, the Bull and Mouth Inn, in Leeds, in the County of York, subject to such Conditions of Sale as will be then and there produced, together or in the following Lots:

Lot I. All that Rich and Valuable FREEHOLD CLOSE of LAND, situate at Middleton, in the Parish of Rothwell, in the County of York, called or commonly known by the Name of the Ley Field, containing, by Estimation, Nine Acres, by the same more or less, in the Tenure of Thomas Walker.

Lot 2. All those THREE several CLOSES of LAND, lying together, situate at Middleton aforesaid, called the Horn Grounds, containing together by Estimation, Seventeen Acres, be the same more or less, and late in the Occupation of the said Thomas Walker.

Immediate Possession may be had of the above Premises; and for further Particulars apply at the Offices of Messrs. Lee & Rayner, Solicitors, Leeds. [24]

It is also clear, from complaints, that the Middleton estate was a target for poachers:

GAME. Whereas, the Game on the Middleton Estate, the Property of Charles John Brandling, Esq. has of late been much destroyed.
Gentlemen are particularly requested to refrain from Hunting, Shooting, or Coursing thereon; and unqualified Persons and Poachers trespassing upon the said Estate, will be prosecuted as the Law directs.
Middleton Lodge, 26th Aug. 1825. [25]

Charles John Brandling died on the 1st February 1826, aged 57 years and his estates passed to his brother, Ralph Henry Brandling.



[1] Leeds Intelligencer, 7th October 1793.

[2] Leeds Intelligencer, November 1800.

[3] The Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser, for Lancashire, Westmorland, &c. Saturday, July 26, 1806

[4] The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, 21st October 1807

[5] The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser Tuesday, 23rd February 23 1808

[5a] Mining Reports held at Northumberland Record Office

[6] The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, November 11, 1809

[7] Caledonian Mercury, Saturday 28th September 1811

[7a] History of the Steam Engine: From Its First Invention to the Present Time, by Elijah Galloway. 1826. pp157-158

[8] Leeds Mercury, Wednesday 27th June 1812

[8a] Leeds Mercury

[9] Leeds Mercury, 18th July 1812

[10] The York Herald, and General Advertiser [York], Saturday, 26th February 1814

[11] Liverpool Mercury, Friday 18th February 1820

[12] History of Rothwell. Batty

[13] Morning Chronicle. Monday 17th January 1825

[14] The Morning Post. Tuesday 25th January 1825

[15] The Leeds Mercury, Saturday 19th February 1825

[16] The Morning Post, Friday 28th Jan 1825

[17] The Morning Post, Monday 29th March 1825

[18] The Times, Saturday, 3rd December 1825.

[19] Northumberland Record Office

[20] Northumberland Record Office

[21] Leeds Mercury, Saturday, 7th February 1807

[22] The Poll for the Knight of the Shire 1807


[24] The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, September 21, 1816.

[25] The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, 3rd September, 1825

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