Tenterden Terrier

The Kent Coalfield

The continuation of the coal seams of Northern France under the Channel and into Kent had long been suspected. Following trial borings in 1882 for a possible Channel Tunnel, coal was discovered at the foot of Shakespeare Cliff, Dover. In 1896, a colliery was commenced on the site by a company set up by a speculator, Arthur Burr, but it proved to be a bad location.

By the time workings were abandoned in 1914, 8 men had been drowned, £1 million had been lost and no coal ever produced.

kentco6Burr severed his connections with Dover in 1903 to set up a new company, known as Kent Coal Concessions, to acquire mineral areas between Dover and Canterbury and exploit the potential of the Coalfield by setting up collieries.

Burr personally monopolised Kent Coal Concessions and a network of satellite companies for 10 years, until he was ousted for incompetence and fraud in 1914. The Pluckley Brickworks was acquired to supply materials used in the construction of the mines and a finance company set up to build connecting railway lines.

In 1910, Kent Coal Concessions was boasting that within 10 years, there would be at least 20 collieries at work, each producing a minimum of 500,000 tons per annum, giving employment to 20,000 men.

Burr personally monopolised Kent Coal Concessions and a network of satellite companies for 10 years, until he was ousted for incompetence and fraud in 1914. The Pluckley Brickworks was acquired to supply materials used in the construction of the mines and a finance company set up to build connecting railway lines.

In 1910, Kent Coal Concessions was boasting that within 10 years, there would be at least 20 collieries at work, each producing a minimum of 500,000 tons per annum, giving employment to 20,000 men.

In the event, the Coalfield never reached the high expectations of its promoters. Kent Coal is friable (crumbly) and unsuitable for domestic use; extensive cementation had to be employed at the collieries to contain the water flows and World War 1 proved to be a fatal setback to industrial investment.

Collieries promoted by the Kent Coal Concessions which actually produced coal included Snowdown, which opened in 1912 and Tilmanstone in 1913. Other companies to set up collieries in Kent included Chislet (opened 1918, closed 1969), Stonehall, which started to produce until the blasting fractured the concrete area and flooded the workings in 194; finally Betteshanger, opened by Pearson Dorman Long in 1927.

Tilmanstone closed in 1985, and Betteshanger, the last of the collieries closed in 1989. The Kent Coalfield has now gone - it lasted less than a century.