From Colliery to Country Park
History beneath our feet
The Parish of Silverdale's roots lie firmly in an industrial past. Under the country park's lush grasses lies rich deposits of iron ore, coal and gas, valuable resources that were mined from the late 18th century till Christmas eve 1998 when the Colliery closed.
In 1792 Silverdale Ironworks began to mine iron ore, however, it wasn't until 19th century, as the demand for coal and iron increased, the village rapidly expanded to accommodate the industry's growing workforce. Silverdale's streets still bear the impact of this expansion with many Victorian houses and terraces populating the area.
An abundance of raw material and a strong local workforce wasn't enough to ensure the success of the village industry. In 1848, landowner Ralph Sneyd, of the Sneyd family, Keele, introduced railway links that connected the village to the rest of the country via a labyrinth of trains, canals and horse power, exporting essential cargo to the Potteries and beyond.
In 1862 the line opened up to passengers. Regular trains to Newcastle and Market Drayton meant that for the first time many could travel further for recreation and work, bringing prosperity into the village. Unfortunately the passenger line closed in 1964 but its tracks were used till the very end, Christmas Eve 1998; the day the last coal train passed through the village.
As you enter the village the strong connection to its mining past is evident in the statue on Mill Street. For many villagers it was a 'job for life' one which they entered at the age of 16, following in the footsteps of their fathers before them. A proud profession fraught with danger and hardship, the camaraderie was evident above and below the surface.
The footage on the right shows the colliery site as it was in 1970's. The first panning shot looks over what is now the Country Park. Once a landscape of pitheads, wagons and conveyor belts it is now the site for rare birds, insects, flora and fauna.
Video courtesy, Staffordshire Film Archive
The former colliery has been transferred from the Homes and Communities Agency to national charity, The Land Trust, who will manage the site as a public open space for people and wildlife. The Trust works with local organisations to ensure that spaces, such as Silverdale, can be used by the community. They have asked Groundwork West Midlands to manage the site on a day to day basis on their behalf.
Ranger, Andrew Hunt, was appointed in April 2011. Andrew comments,"I live in Mow Cop with my wife and 2 daughters and have a close affinity to the coalfields as my Grandfather worked down the pit at Wolstanton and Chatterley Whitfield. The opportunity for me to bring my countryside management experience to this regenerated coal pit, a place where people and nature can thrive is very exciting for me. I am keen to blend the industrial and mining heritage into the new Country Park where local people will be able to enjoy quiet recreation and wildlife".
The Ranger is responsible for maintaining the park and providing a site presence so that it is safe and welcoming for all visitors to Silverdale Country Park. The site has been laid out with many paths so please follow the way-marking and specific routes for house riders. Andrew adds, "I believe strongly in a sense of community and see myself as a custodian of the Park; caring for it, for you. I hope to see many of you around the park; sharing local history, wildlife and helping you enjoy your visit".