Technical | Winders   >  Engine-house

Section under development



The engine-houses sit back-to-back between the two shafts with transverse wings linking them.  The original walls are 24in thick, rubble cored, with  external facings of random quarry-faced ashlar and internal facings of lime-washed uncoursed stone.  At some time after 1904 the interior walls of the North engine-house were smooth rendered although some of this came away when the engine-house was open to the elements in the 1990s.  The gable-ends were capped with sawn coping slabs, many of which remain in use as kneelers, still showing the original saw marks. 


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Original engine-house wall construction with later girder insertion

North engine-house inside wall with section of later rendering removed

The facing stone of the engine-houses is a pink-hued sandstone of unknown provenance much of which has weathered to a beige colour. When the South engine-house was enlarged in 1922, additional darker coloured gritstone blocks were incorporated in the upper sections.

Quarry 1874

The original mortar was lime based, the lime being obtained from the flaggy yellow limestone bed-rock quarried and burnt on site.  This gives it a distinctive creamy colour, quite different from the later, dark, cement based mortars and allows the sections of original masonry to be easily identified.

1875 1:2500 map detail

The original slated roofs were of traditional timber  construction, using a fabricated jointed-cruck arrangement.  Common-rafters were carried on purlins supported by  substantial principle-rafters braced by wall-posts elbowed at wall-plate level with collar-beams supporting king posts beneath the ridge. Cross beams were inserted although it is not clear whether these acted as tie-beams or were merely to provide support for lifting gear. The wall-posts rested on stone corbels adjacent to the window reveals. These were removed from the North engine-house, probably when the roof was altered in the 1960s although their location can still be made out together with the outline of the wall-post at one window.  The junction of the engine-house and transept ridges was surmounted by a louvered ventilator.

South EH roof timbers 1904

South engine-house and west-wing roof timber construction  circa 1904 (FoPP/JST)

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Engine-house roof construction  circa 1904

At some point after the mid 1880s, the end walls of both engine-houses had to be braced by cross-ties consisting of 2in square iron bars extending through both side-walls to outside anchor plates. These can still be seen on the North engine-house although the internal section of the tie-bar was removed when larger brakes were installed.

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South engine-house joists and iron tie-bar  circa 1904 (FoPP/JST)


North engine-house East wall  tie-bar anchor plate

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North engine-house West wall  tie-bar anchor plate

The windows were round arched with the internal reveals slightly flared. The reveal dentils, voussoirs and keystone were of dressed ashlar sandstone with the internal faces smooth sawn and the outside rock-faced with sawn arrisses.  The external arriss line was continued for an inch or so into the slope of the rock-faced sill.  The North engine-house still retains its original window reveals (and possibly the timber frames).

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South engine-house inside wall circa 1904 (FoPP/JST)

Engine-house side window reveal details

Below the window of the East wing there appears to have been two smaller rectangular windows. These can be seen in an etching from the mid-1880s and traces of the right-hand one can still be made out in the existing East wing.  The sill of these windows would have been at about floor level inside the engine-house and their purpose is unclear.

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Engine-house layout circa  1885   (JST)

For some reason, which has yet to be fully understood, the gable-ends of the North and South engine-houses were of different designs.  

The early engine-house roofs appears to have had  hipped gables, with a low dormer rope entry faced with an arched stone wall on the South.  The North engine-house roof, however, was surmounted by a raised section extending several feet back along the ridge from the gable.  This was probably a modification done to accommodate the overlap rope entering at a higher level owing to the positioning of the winding drum at the rear of the engine-house.


In 1901 the North engine-house had a corbie or crow-step gable end, with the parapet stonework taken up to the ridge in four steps, each capped with a horizontal coping slab.  The ridge parapet was arched and capped with curved coping stones.  The overlap rope still entered through the roof via the wooden hutch on the ridge further back, whilst the underlap rope entered at a high level in the end wall.    The window arrangement was quite asymmetric and the windows themselves were of different sizes.  There was also an opening near ground level,  positioned a few feet to the left of the centre line, the function of which is not yet understood.

North engine-house June 1901, the overcast rope passes over gable-end    (JST)

Sth eng-hse gable #1 -s02

The South engine-house, however, now had a half-hipped roof at the gable-end, with the ridge line extending full length. A low central wall just above eaves height supported a wooden dormer structure for the overlap rope entry. The slates on the two hipped sections are much smaller than those of the main roof, and it is probable that this was a modification resulting from the installation of the  larger winding drum in 1900.  Unlike at the North engine-house, the South end-wall window reveals were arranged symmetrically and there appears to be have been a glazed door fitted in the lower part of the east window.  It is quite possible that the original curved coping stones from the South gable end were re-used on the North engine-house. 

South engine-house end wall circa 1910 with half- hipped  gable-end (FoPP/JST)

1901 plan #1 -s

Another puzzling asymmetry in the original engine-house layout was in the width of the two projecting wings.  For some reason, the wing on the east side was narrower than that on the west. This can be seen on the 1:2500 maps and is confirmed in a plan drawn by the manager, G. A. Longden, in 1901.

North engine-house and boiler layout circa 1901 (JST)

When the North winder was renewed in 1904-5, the replacement was positioned such that both overlap and underlap ropes ran out through the end wall. The curved coping on the gable end was replaced with a pair of inclined slabs. Why the gable was altered is unknown- possibly the curved coping stones were damaged, although when the gable end of the South engine-house was rebuilt in 1922 this was terminated with arched coping - perhaps they were the same stones. 

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Front view of North engine-house gable-end  -  1901 - 1904 (FoPP/JST)

Rear view of North engine-house gable-end   post 1904 (FoPP/JST)

In 1922 the South engine-house was rebuilt to accommodate a larger winder. It was both heightened and widened - slightly on the east side and by several feet on the west. In order to accommodate the widening, the boilers on the SW and SE  sides of the engine-house were removed and new ones installed further away from the SE wall. When this had been done, the foundations and footings were laid and the lower sections of the side walls were built up to ground level.

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S e-h lower wall section

South engine-house west lower wall construction

South engine-house west lower wall internal brickwork and footings

Once the shaft deepening had been completed and a temporary winder installed, work on constructing the new engine-house could proceed. The original east and west walls were completely demolished, with the facing stone being reused for the new walls above ground level. The lower parts of the wings and the end wall were left in place but widened where necessary. A small sections of the original SW corner of the engine-house can be seen in the basement and in the exhaust tunnel above the outside cross-flue, whilst the original corbel stones for the raking legs of the pre-1900 wooden headstock are still in-situ.  A new internal dividing wall with a large doorway and metal framed windows was built between the two engine-houses as part of the enlargement.

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Original South engine-house RH-corner stonework with the headstock raking-leg foot girders

Original South engine-house RH-corner stonework in the basement

Both wings were heightened and the east wing was widened to match the west. The two middle crow-step parapets of the gable-ends of both wings were replaced with plain inclined coping slabs. Once again, the engine-house asymmetry  appeared, although rather more subtly.  The original date stones were added to, but by a different hand on each side.  In addition, difference in height of about two courses of bricks is seen on the gable ends of the two wings.

Engine-house east wing date stone

South engine-house east wing date-stone

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South engine-house east wing gable-end coping-stones

Engine-house - west wing date stone

South engine-house west wing date-stone

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South engine-house west wing gable-end coping-stones

The end-wall gable was finished in the same style as the wings but with the addition of a stone bearing the year and six sets of initials, four of which are known whilst the other two are yet to be identified.

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South engine-house gable-end coping-stones


South engine-house end wall name-stone

In the mid 1960s, the original slate roof of the North engine-house was replaced with an asbestos sheet covering which raised the ridge line a few inches and the eaves by several feet.   The end wall was also rebuilt at this time using brickwork. When the colliery closed the roof on the North engine house was completely removed leaving the interior and the winder exposed to the elements.  When the restoration began, a temporary cover was installed until the roof could be recovered using modern profiled steel sheeting to reproduce the 1960’s roof lines.

Nth EH 1980 from NNE -s

North engine-house post-1966 roof and end wall  (FoPP/JST)

As a result of the new roof, the transition from the 1922 brick internal dividing wall between the two  engine-houses, and its stone-faced external continuation above the roof of the North engine-house can clearly be seen. 

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North engine-house dividing wall - post 1966

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North engine-house dividing wall  1922 - 1966

The asymmetry appears once again in the dividing wall where the tall windows and the doorway are slightly off-centre although the round window at an higher level is on-centre.

Yet to do:

  • E wing early low-level hatchway traces
  • E wing original doorways - access to E boilers
  • Eng-hse side combined wall-plates / guttering & down-spouts
  • N eng-hse end wall window and doorway arrangement 1901, 1966
  • N eng-hse original floor level pre-1904
  • N eng-hse W side annexe ? 1911 turbine generator
  • N eng-hse rendering and glazed tiles:  
  • E & W wing doorway alterations 1921
  • E & W wing window alterations 1921
  • S eng-hse end wall E doorway replaced by window frame 1921
  • S eng-hse end wall W window replaced by doorway to pit top 1921
  • S eng-hse rope exit weather curtains & sunlight screen
  • S eng-hse W side doorway construction 1950s ? 1960s
  • S eng-hse end wall air-lock - post 1950s pit-top modernisation
  • S eng-hse toilet & washing facilities


  • Friends of Pleasley Pit photographic archive
  • Stanton and Stavely, A Business History,  S.D. Chapman
  • Longden, G.A.,  Trans. Fed. Inst. Min. Eng.  Vol XXIII, 1901-02
  • 25 inch Tithe Maps,  1875, 1899, 1916, 1938  (Derbyshire County Records Office)
  • Stanton Ironworks Co. Technical Reports, 1921, 1922 (Derbyshire County Records Office)


Copyright © 2005 - 2017      J.S. Thatcher

Page updated on:

08 Apr, 2018


02:15:14 PM

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The gable-end walls of both engine-houses were later reinforced with iron cross-ties just below eaves height secured to oval plates on the outside.  The side walls of the North engine-house still carry the original iron plates on the outside but the internal cross-tie was removed when larger brakes were fitted to the winder although the stubs of the cross-tie can be seen inside.