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Montreal Colliery

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Montreal Colliery was opened by John Stirling in 1862. The pit was unique in the country in that it was both a Coal and Iron Ore Mine, both being drawn through the same shaft. Coal was produced at Montreal until 1918.

1858 Stirling starting borings on Todholes, near Cleator, and had almost given up prospecting when haematite was discovered. In 1862 he started looking in the Montreal area where even more haematite was discovered.

Coal was produced at Montreal Pit until 1918. In 1852 Stirling, a local magistrate, and his wife Marian took up residence at Park House, Bigrigg and the couple had six children. Around 10 years later the family moved to Bridekirk, near Cockermouth where Marian, the daughter of John Hartley of Moresby House (later Howgate Hotel), was to give birth to four more children. John Stirling began visiting Scotland more and more, initially renting Castle Leod, Strathpeffer.

Deaths at this colliery:

  • Bell, Thomas, 13 Jan 1917, (accident: 15 Dec 1916), aged 57, Miner, death was accelerated by inhaling an excessive dose of gas. 
  • Bray, William John, 19 Aug 1879, aged 19, Stoneman, explosion of gunpowder. 
  • Byrne, James, 02 Feb 1916, suffocated by firedamp.
  • Downey, Robert, 20 May 1889, aged 35, Hewer, killed by a fall of coal.
  • Faller, William John, 19 Aug 1879, aged 23, Stoneman, explosion of gunpowder.
  • Irving, George, 02 Feb 1916, suffocated by firedamp.
  • Poland, Robert, 04 Apr 1883, aged 16, Trailer, fall down shaft from part way down. 
  • Thomas, Henry, 30 Aug 1880, aged 34, Sinker, fell from eye when attempting to enter cage.

Cleator Moor by Norman Nicholson

From one shaft at Cleator Moor
They mined for coal and iron ore.
This harvest below ground could show
Black and red currants on one tree.

In furnaces they burnt the coal,
The ore was smelted into steel,
And railway lines from end to end
Corseted the bulging land.

Pylons sprouted on the fells,
Stakes were driven in like nails,
And the ploughed fields of Devonshire
Were sliced with the steel of Cleator Moor.

The land waxed fat and greedy too,
It would not share the fruits it grew,
And coal and ore, as sloe and plum,
Lay black and red for jamming time.

The pylons rusted on the fells,
The gutters leaked beside the walls,
And women searched the ebb-tide tracks
For knobs of coal or broken sticks.

But now the pits are wick with men,
Digging like dogs dig for a bone:
For food and life we dig the earth –
In Cleator Moor they dig for death.

Every wagon of cold steel
Is fire to drive a turbine wheel;
Every knuckle of soft ore
A bullet in a soldier’s ear.

The miner at the rockface stands,
With his segged and bleeding hands
Heaps on his head the fiery coal,
And feels the iron in his soul.

Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson
8 Jan 1914 to 30th May 1987.

Montreal Colliery, Cleator Moor

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Montreal Colliery
Montreal Colliery
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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