Author pens coal mining history of Morley

WHAT started out as a 12,000-word dissertation for a part-time university course has become the first book for its author.

After enrolling as a part-time student at Leeds University studying regional and local history at the age of 63, Jim Thorp's work on the history of coal mining in Morley has now been published.

Mr Thorp, now 75, used his university dissertation as the main source of the book, entitled Coal Mining in Morley, which details the history of mining in the old Morley Borough and includes neighbouring pit areas such as East Ardsley and Churwell.

It gives an in depth history of some of the more well-known of Morley's collieries such as Morley Main and lists 87 in all,

dating back to the early 19th century.

The book includes a detailed account of the Morley Main explosion on October 7, 1872, which claimed the lives of 34 men and boys.

Mr Thorp of Keren Grove, Wrenthorpe, said: "There was nothing on the shelves of the library that brings all the history of mining in Morley together, which this book does.

"Most of my research came from the National Coal Mining Museum and Morley Library, which all in all – dissertation and book – took eight years to complete."

Mr Thorp also used old copies of the Morley Observer.

"They are a mine of information," he said. "They give a snapshot of how the people of Morley saw themselves back then.

"On the Sunday following the Morley Main explosion, churches in the town resounded to sermons about the incident and collections were made for the relief fund. There were pages of these sermons printed in the Observer."

Brought up in Tingley and a former pupil of Blackgates School and Morley Grammar School, Mr Thorp says there is still a whole area of research to do beyond the 19th century.

"There is little known about a place called Hunger Hill Colliery that was just off Fountain Street. There are names of places that are mentioned, but there is no other information about them – that all needs to be researched."

He said that during the mining years, employers' and employees' roles could change all the time.

"Men could be miners one minute and mine owners the next," he said.

"A man called Andrew Jackson, who lived on Worrell Street, worked as a miner at the Victoria Colliery at Bruntcliffe. He went on to work at Howley Park Colliery, which he and his brother eventually bought.

"That just shows you how one week you could be a miner, the owner the next and vice versa."

Now that his first book is complete and on sale, a second one might not be that far behind.

"I still can't believe I've written it," he said. "I can't

remember what comes next!"

Before retiring at 60, Mr Thorp worked for 37 years as chief law clerk for the Crown Prosecution Service in West Yorkshire.

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Published by the Northern Mine Research Society, all profits will be used to support all mining history through

museums.

Anyone wanting a copy of Mr Thorp's book, priced at 12, can contact Barbara Sutcliffe, at Northern Mine Research Society Publications, The Old Manse, 93 Halifax Road, Nelson, Lancashire, BB9 OEQ, by calling 01282 614615 or contact Mr Thorp on 01924 387959.