At 2pm at the Bury New Road Festival on Friday 15th July at the Broughton Hub, former Agecroft Colliery worker, Paul Kelly, will be giving a talk about the big mining tunnels under Bury New Road.
“I travelled underneath Bury New Road all the time to my place of work” Paul recalls “We travelled on a little locomotive, called a Paddy Train because allegedly a lot of Irish people worked in the pits. It was a huge area with different tunnels and developments stretching from the top of Higher Broughton to Whitefield and Radcliffe in an arch. At the talk I’ll have maps so I can actually show where they were and where we got the coal from, plus a few anecdotes as well.”
To get to these mining tunnels, workers had to drop 2,200 feet down a shaft at Agecroft, get on one of the trains and then walk for twenty or thirty minutes to the coalface on paths with a gradient of around one in two. At the coalface there were miners who cut the coal and those who dug the tunnels.
“I was a tunneller, making sure the roof didn’t fall in as there was a lot of maintenance because the earth moved all the time” says Paul, who now runs the Irwell Valley Mining Project educating people about the former mines of the area.
And around this area there were about twenty five miles of walkable tunnels and lots more that weren’t ‘walkable’. There was a ‘Southern’ tunnel which went to the Worsley and Eccles areas and got closed in the early 1980s because of subsidence; and the Central Area Tunnels which went to the north under places like Prestwich, Simister and Besses o’ th Barn. There’s also a tunnel under the M60 roundabout near Tesco, where the local depots were, with tracks going to different coal faces.
It’s like a whole metropolis under Bury New Road that few people, other than miners, can imagine. So what can people expect from Paul’s talk? “Well, they can expect to know if their house is going to fall down” he laughs “Where potential subsidence may be and the damage it can cause in the area. And I’ll also be bringing a piece of coal because a lot of younger people don’t even know what it is or what it was used for…”
Paul Kelly will be talking about the Tunnels Under Bury New Road at around 2pm Friday 15th July as part of the Bury New Road Festival at the Broughton Hub. He will also be joining the Salford Local History Group collecting people’s oral histories and photos of the area.
The Broughton Hub is situated on Rigby Street, off Devonshire Street, which is just off Bury New Road M7 4BQ, behind the Greek Orthodox Church in Salford. (the Hub has a car park, entrance on Devonshire Street)
Meanwhile, the Bury New Road Festival runs noon-7pm at The Hub (for details click here) and will include the launch of the North Manchester Yiddish Dictionary at two shows, 1pm (approx) and 5:45pm (approx) – see here.
There will also be an exhibition of abstract paintings by the Mental Wellbeing Group at The Fed, based on their reactions to the Longfield Centre in Prestwich which is soon to be bulldozed. As part of this process, we developed a special ‘Prestwich Palette’ of colours based on buildings in the Precinct, so look out for Prestwich Library Yellow, Village Greens Green and Bollard Blue in the artwork…
The Manchester District Music Archive and Salford Local History Group will also be on hand to scan photos and interview people about the amazing events, people and places connected to the Road. Just turn up and add to our archive.
Local history collector, Craig Brisbane, will be bringing along his incredible collection of local artefacts, including ancient flint arrow heads found on Rainsough plus other vintage wonders of Salford and North Manchester.
The Strummalongs will be singing songs about Salford and Bury New Road, John Darwin will be performing verse with a Bury New Road twist (see here), and there will also be an exhibition of the latest Bury New Road portraits by Louise Garman and photos from the Bury New Road archive of Paul Jones (see here).
The Bury New Road Project…A heritage project that seeks to point out the amazing people and events that have links to this section of the A56 between Strangeways and Prestwich. We aim to point out the magic, and everyone’s welcome to help.
The Bury New Road Project is funded by the Heritage Fund, Granada Foundation and Mary Monson Solicitors, with added support from Salford City Council, Manchester City Council and Bury Council.
Interview with Paul Kelly and photo by Sonnie Barratt