FURNESS had plenty of iron ore to fill its furnaces but lacked the coke and coal to turn it into the pig iron and steel wanted for shipbuilding and engineering.

The Barrow Hematite Steel Company went looking in Yorkshire for its own supplies and started digging what would become the Barrow Colliery, near Barnsley.

In 1872 the company bought a small colliery in Worsborough Park whch had become almost exhausted of coal after 40 years.

The Barrow firm leased another 900 acres - which had five seams of coal - from the Edmunds estate - whch was the local royalty owner and would get cash for evey ton of coal brought to the surface.

Digging for the new Barrow Colliery started in 1873, about half-a-mile from the existing pit.

The plan was to dig down 500 yards (1500ft) to what was called the Sikstone coal seam.

The first earth was truned on June 4 by Barnsley-based engineers J. G. and A. Kell.

There were threee shafts - two of 15ft diameter and one 17ft.

A brick-making machine turned out 11,000 bricks a day and Barrow firm Carruthers and Woodhouse made use of them to build an engine house and cottages for the workers.

Around 500,000 bricks were needed just for the engine house.

The cottages were built on fields along the Barnsley to Sheffield road at Warsborogh Bridge.

This area became known as New England.

By October 1875 the shaft sinkers were 240 yards down and on December 9 reached the coal seam at a depth of 466 yards.

The 18 months of digging was completed without an accident.

The event was celebrated on January 13 in 1876 with a banquet for 280 guests in the massive brick drying shed.

Josiah Timmis Smith, managing director of Barrow Hematite Steel, said the shaft digging had been a speculation but the firm was the first to have reached this deep seam of coal.

The vicar of Worsborough said the beauty of the village would be affected by smoke from the colliery but was told tt employment oppotunitnwould put a smile on the face of families.

Withihin a few years the Barrow Colliery was employing more than 1,000 people.

To turn the coal into coke there was a group of 60 furnace ovens and copper ovens.

Two saddle tank locomotives built by Sharp Stewart of Manchester in the 1860s were transferred from Barrow Steelworks to provide rail transort at the colliery.

The worst loss of life at the Barrow Colliery was on November 15 in 1907 when seven men were killed as they were thrown out of a pit cage.

In 1932 the pit was amalgamated with Barnsley Main and Monk Bretton to form Barrow Barnsley Main Collieries.

The National Coal Board took control in 1947 at a tme when the colliery was turning out 440,116 tons of coal a year.

By 1972 output had been doubled and the colliery closed in May 1985.

An article in the Barrow Times on Saturday, January 15 in 1876 noted: "The colliery will be one of the largest in the district and will raise from 1,200 to 1,400 tons of coal daily, the greatest part of which will be converted into coke for the use of the works at Barrow.

"A branch line will be made from the colliery to the Midland line."

The paper's Barnsley correspondent said: "On Monday there were great rejoicings at Worsborough, near Bradford, in connection with the discovery of the Silkstone seam by the Barrow Hematite Company.

"A splendid banquet was provided and served up in a large shed, 146ft long and 30ft wide.

"It was profusely decorated for the occasion with the arms and crest of the Duke of Devonshire, chairman of the company."

All that coal was badly needed as since 1874 the Barrow company had the largest number of furnaces in blast in the United Kingdom.