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King Pit, Whitehaven

A short walk along the cliff top from Haig Colliery in Whitehaven, West Cumbria, a small stone cairn marks the site of King Pit. The mine was sunk in 1750 by Sir Carlisle Spedding, which by 1793 reached a depth of 296 metres – then the deepest coal mine in the world.

An interesting feature of Whitehaven and surrounding areas is that there is a large expanse of grass land along the top of the cliffs, with the houses being set well back. The main reason for this is that at one time all the mines, railways and inclines were along the cliff tops, these have now gone to leave the open space.

King Pit appears to have remained an important winding pit until around 1800. It is labelled as “Kingpit Yard” on the 1st-3rd Ordnance Survey editions; on the 1st edition it still had waggonway access, implying industrial use.

The site is marked by a beehive shaft capping and plaque; given the extensive landscaping of this area after the closure of Haig Colliery, the survival of below-ground deposits is uncertain. The opening of a rock-cut adit also survives, just above high-tide level in the base of the cliff to the west; this was probably a ‘pumpway’, for discharging water pumped up the King Pit shaft.

King Pit, Whitehaven
King Pit, Whitehaven


    • They are. They’ve been surveying the land and beneath the sea for a couple of years now. It seems that enthusiasm for an industry of the past is as strong as ever in this area. That’s bad news in my opinion. People should take more notice of the warnings associated with climate change.

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