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On the 31st December 1852 William Worswick signed a 35 year coal mining lease with Wyggeston Hospital.  The Coleorton No 2 Colliery was then sunk. It became known as the Califat mine after the Russian siege of the town of Calafat (then part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, now in Romania) January to April 1854.

The Califat Coal Mine had two shafts.  The Califat shaft was used for winding and the engine and boiler house complex has been excavated by LIHS June 2006 to 2019.  The Alabama shaft was used for pumping and the engine and boiler house complex was excavated 1993-1999.  The miners cottages excavation began in March 2016.

Read more:

Califat Shaft – Engine House and Boiler House Consolidations

In May 2013 the Califat engine house was stabilised by Classic Builders of Ashby.  Original bricks from the excavation were used to partially rebuild the walls, so that the outline of the engine house could be more easily understood.  It is believed that there would have been an engine on each half of the central engine plinth.  Photos by Bill Pemberton.

To see more read the Engine house excavation and consolidation photo history

Engine plinth with holes for holding down bolts
Consolidating engine plinth by replacing bricks
Engine house viewed from boiler house side

In June 2014 the Califat boiler house was stabilised.  As with the engine house stabilisation, walls were rebuilt on the lines revealed by the excavation.  The position of the three boiler cradles and their stoke pits can be seen.  Photos by Bill Pemberton.

Flues taking gases from coal fired boilers to chimney
Position of three boiler cradles
Brick pier between two stoke holes filled with breeze blocks and faced with original bricks

By arrangement, Larry South brought his drone to the Califat in February 2019 to take aerial photos of the Califat engine house complex.

Engine house left, boiler house right, chimney below boiler house
An 18th century shaft to the right of the 19th century buildings
The bottom left pond was a rectangular water reservoir

Miners’ Cottages

When taking visitors on a tour of the Califat we used to point to a mass of brambles and hawthorn and tell them there were miners’ cottages there.  In March 2016 we started by clearing the scrub and as soon as digging began evidence of the cottages started to emerge.

Some dig sessions are in glorious sunshine
Some dig sessions require warm clothes
Excavating the cottages is slow careful work

Larry South’s drone photos show the entrance porch and the room to the right.  There were two cottages next to each other, about 75% of one cottage is on Trust land.

To see more read
Miners’ cottages excavation photo history
Summary of December 1958 Environmental Health Report leading to the demolition of the Califat Cottages

Drone view of the cottages on right and neighbouring area where they continue
Porch and main room to the right
The close up of the porch and stairs area with fireplace next door in main room

Partnership Excavation

The Swannington Heritage Trust partnership with Leicestershire Industrial History Society is very important.  LIHS lead the dig on the second Tuesday of the month, 9.30am-1pm. Visitors and new diggers are always welcome.  See diary for Califat Coal Mine tours during the ‘Festival of Archaeology’ in July and ‘Hello Heritage’ in September.

Recording the dig is essential, as is the social dimension of the dig.  The coffee break, Christmas barbecue and monthly post dig lunch at the Bull’s Head, Thringstone, involves discussion about all manner of subjects as well as the dig.

Califat Dig Photographic Reports

In addition to the formal recording of the dig a monthly photographic report is produced:

September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020

The reports for previous years are on the Califat Excavation Reports page