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Califat Miners

This page provides work and family history information for the miners named in the newspaper reports of the Califat coal mine incidents.  Their lives give a fascinating insight into coal mining conditions, roles and families:

  • Working in the Califat coal mine.
  • Some miners lived in the same area all of their lives.
  • Other miners made a frenzied tour of the coalfields of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire as they constantly sought work as coal mines opened and closed, prospered or went on short time.
  • When a wife died, her husband had to find a way to keep working to pay for food and the rent – turning to the eldest daughter, a sister or mother for immediate support, then remarriage (often to a coal mining widow who needed a bread winner for her children).


The miners:

Levi Baker – Stoker – Overwind Incident

Levi Baker 1829-1907 lived all of his life in Osgathorpe.  He grew up with his widowed framework knitter mother Elizabeth.  Levi outlived his two wives and one of his four children.  Levi was the stoker for the winding engine boiler house when the 29th May overwind incident occurred.  Life of Levi Baker and inquest evidence

Thomas Bird – deputy day shift (a corporal)

Thomas Bird – Nephew – Rescued – Flooding Incident

William Bird – Flooding Incident

Burns – Flooding Incident

William Clamp – Miner – Flooding Incident

William Clamp 1832-1915 was born at Moira. Although his father was a sawyer William and his four brothers all worked as coal miners.  William may have been working at the Califat mine when his daughter was born at Coleorton in 1860 and when he was living near the Anchor Inn at the 1861 census.  By 1864 he was living in Stanton (between Swadlincote and Burton), perhaps because the Califat employed less miners after the flooding incident.  He survived two wives and died in the Linton area.  William heroically twice risked his life descending the shaft to search for missing miners in the flooded mine.  Life of William Clamp and inquest evidence

William Clements – miner rescued

Frank Dolman – Rescued – Flooding Incident

Greasley – Flooding Incident

Harvey – Flooding Incident

Josiah Hibbert – Loader – Flooding Incident

Josiah Hibbert 1841-1916 was born into a Thringstone family of framework knitters.  Josiah married Catherine Stacey in 1860 and by the 1861 census they had a three month old daughter and were living with Catherine’s coal mining family in Station Row.  They remained in Swannington until the early 1880s before moving between Coalville, Whitwick Moor and Thringstone where Josiah retired after 50 or so years as a miner.  At the 1863 flooding incident, Josiah was a loader at No 2 stall (near No 8 stall where the water burst in).  Life of Josiah Hibbert and inquest evidence  Josiah was the cousin of John Hutchinson who died falling down the Califat shaft in May 1863.

Hodges – Flooding Incident

John Hutchinson – miner fell to his death – Overwind Incident

Lagar – Flooding Incident

John Lakin – Flooding Incident

Robert Lakin – Overman – Overwind Incident

William Misson – Flooding Incident

Newberry – Flooding Incident

William Parkinson – Flooding Incident

William Pickering – Father – Crown Bailiff – Flooding Incident

William Pickering 1817-1884 had six children with his wide Sarah Gooch.  A year after her death he became the third husband of widowed publican Charlotte Ward who had a four year old son, joining her at the Waggon and Horses in Whitwick while still working as a miner.   Shortly afterwards he rose to some form of management position at Whitwick Colliery (overman or deputy),

When Robert Lakin left the Coleorton Colliery Company after operating the winding engine and causing the death of John Hutchinson in May 1863, there was the need for a new overman or bailiff.   William Pickering was appointed bailiff of the Califat and California pits around July 1863.

William provided extensive evidence at the flooding incident inquest re the management and operation of the Califat mine.  Also evidence of how the ingress of water was dealt with leading up to the water breaking through and flooding the mine.  Life of bailiff William Pickering and inquest evidence

William Pickering – Coal Miner – Flooding Incident

W Platts – Banksman – Overwind Incident

William Platts 1827-1877 lived his whole life in Worthington parish.  He was born in Griffydam then lived in Gelsmoor, The Outwoods and Newbold.  William was an agricultural labourer in 1851 but a coal pit labourer in 1861 and 1871.  William died aged 50 years, he was the banksman at the pit top at the time of the overwind incident.  Life of William Platts and inquest evidence

John Springthorpe – Flooding Incident

John Stanley – Flooding Incident

Stewart – Flooding Incident

William Walker – Enginemen – Overwind Incident

The engineman operated the winding engine in what would have been a noisy boiler house.  The control lever and dials would probably have been at the north end so that the engineman could see the shaft area through large windows.

William Walker 1833-1917.  William Walker was born in Worthington the son of farmer and butcher Joseph Walker and his wife Hannah.  Research is continuing to establish whether the family is related to mine owner Benjamin Walker.  By 1851 William was an 18 year old wagoner.

William became an engineman in 1853, possibly being trained at the California colliery while the Califat mine was being sunk.  William became engineman at the Califat mine in 1855.  He operated the winding engine that pulled men and coal tubs up the shaft.  William was at the pumping engine when overman Robert Lakin brought up the two miners and did not stop the cage in time.

William was an enginewright in 1871, quite possibly at the Califat mine.  In 1881 William was an engine driver still living in Coleorton Moor.  As the Califat mine had closed he probably worked at William Checkland’s Coleorton No 3 colliery, the Bug and Wink.  By 1891 William had become a grocer near Coleorton fishponds, an occupation he continued until his death.  Life of William Walker and inquest evidence

John Walker

Ward – Flooding Incident

James Waring – Blacksmith – Overwind Incident

James Waring 1825-1886 moved around the coalfields seeking work.  His journey took him to Packington where he met his wife Maria Litherland, Walsall, Thringstone, Coalville, Swannington and Church Gresley.  As the colliery blacksmith James Waring would have repaired horse limmers and harnesses, coal tubs and the cages going up and down the shaft.  James would also have put new shoes on the pit ponies.  James heard the crash of the cage hitting the headstock outside his shop and saw John Hutchinson fall from the cage down the shaft. Life of James Waring and inquest evidence

William Wilton – Late Deputy – Flooding Incident

George Wright – Flooding Incident

Loader at No 2 stall (near No 8 stall).